How can the University help improve public policy through better use of research evidence and expertise?



The University’s long-standing commitment to changing the world for the better through research has for many years been reflected, in part, in the different ways researchers engage with policy professionals, in local, national and international contexts. From informal enquiries to formal inquiries, in consultation or sustained collaboration, this policy engagement enables researchers and policy professionals to improve public policy through making the most of their evidence, expertise and experience. 

IJuly 2020, to complement the support for policy engagement provided in departments and faculties, the University launched the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN), in pursuit of a vision of public policy powered by the world’s best available research evidence and expertise, and a mission to equip OPEN members to share knowledge and expertise with policy professionals, to inform public policy that protectwhat is valuable and changes the world for the better.  

Refreshing our strategy

The Policy Engagement Team has led implementation of OPEN’s first strategy, which has shaped OPEN’s development and growth: the network now connects more than 1,000 researchers and professional services staff in more than 50 departments across Oxford. The strategy has focused on  

  • Alerting researchers to opportunities to share their evidence and expertise with policy professionals, and creating new opportunities for them to do so – through, for example, the OPEN Seed FundOPEN Fellowships, and the Public Policy Challenge Fund 

  • Learning more about the ways in which research can inform policymaking, and developing relevant skills, through training and peer mentoring, as well as engagement itself 

  • Broadening and deepening our policy networks, including through participation in the Universities Policy Engagement Network, and support for brief visits by policy professionals to Oxford; and 

  • Strengthening leadership for policy engagementappointing our first Academic Champion and launching our OPEN Leaders Scheme, and promoting greater reward and recognition of excellence in policy engagement, including via video case studies. 

Guided by our current Academic Champion and other members of the OPEN Steering Group, we’re taking stock of what we have learned in the last three yearsand on what has changed in the research and policy landscapesin and outside the UK, with a view to refreshing our strategy.  

How you can contribute 

If you share OPEN’s vision, we would welcome your views. What should we continue to do, or do differently? What new possibilities should we consider? To let us know, you can simply drop us an e-mail. Alternatively, you can complete a short survey:

  • A policy professional (e.g., in local, regional, or central government, national or devolved assembly, or international organisation) anywhere in the world, please complete this survey.

  • A researcher or member of professional services staff at the University, please complete this survey. 

We’ll be considering all input provided before 1 June 2024.