I was a little confused as to how the Bern piece could be applied to the field of international relations. The findings seem pretty straightforward; it is in our human nature to get the worst things out of the way first so that we don’t have them hanging in the back of our mind. But how can this be applied to decision making in foreign policy? One thing I thought of was North Korea. Perhaps proponents of military action would say that it is better to act preemptively now, than it is to wait for them to attack first. Either way the outcome is painful, but the dread of military action could be even worse.
Maybe agenda setting?
It is easy to get discouraged with this week’s downer set of readings regarding the relevance of academics shaping any kind of foreign policy. It seems that the harder sciences enjoy much more relevance than do the social sciences, especially political science and international affairs.
The linkage between papers that come out of academia and the practitioners of policymaking seems almost mysterious. But I think that a lot of it has to do with how academia couches its product in the Latin-laden, jargon filled papers as was pointed out. Who wants to read that stuff?
The fact that Nye and Huntington transitioned from policymaking positions in various administrations to scholarly pursuits surely helps them understand what is needed “back over there” more than some doctorate seeking person who doesn’t really yet know how the real world works.
But, at the end of the day, the work being done by political scientists is needed, even if the transfer of the knowledge it advances is sometimes hard to see tangibly arrive in the hands of the political elite.
The Avey and Desch paper states, “we have long known that the primary constraint policymakers face in digesting scholarly, or any other writings, is lack of time. As one respondent put it, “any research papers that exceed 10–15 pages” are not useful to policymakers. Another noted that “I do not have the time to read much so cannot cite” many examples of useful social science scholarship.” How can academics make their work more accessible to policymakers without diminishing the integrity of their work? I personally do not think this is a possible feat. Is there another way to bridge the gap?
I think the main problem is academic work is written to an audience of other academics. Additionally, policymakers might find quantitive work unhelpful simply because they are not familiar with the models used. By creating a journal that caters to policymakers by using normal human language, explaining quantitative methods and findings in a more accessible way, and providing information in a clear and concise way, academics could do something on their own to bridge the gap. That said, it would probably require government funding because I doubt most researchers would want to 1) take the time to water down their work and 2) would not see an advantage to their own standing in the academic community by publishing to a policymaking journal.
My thoughts exactly. Maybe a “middle man” that can certify and simplify research to ensure its credible and easily accessible for policymakers would be a fix?
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