chapter  3
22 Pages

Policy Research and the Policy Process

Previous chapters in this book have emphasized that policy research is

situational. It is different from research conducted in universities or in

the laboratory partly because the policy analyst must respond to his or

her environment in a variety of ways. As has been pointed out in previous

discussions, the questions a policy analyst must address emerge from the

concerns and problems of policy makers. The analyst must identify and

clarify these problems so they can be the basis for focused research. Simi­

larly, the methods of data collection available to the policy analyst are de­

termined to a great extent through the budget resources that the client is

willing to make available and by the availability of information in the en­

vironment. A program with good records, for example, presents a differ­

ent research context than does one with incomplete or inaccurate

records. Finally, the conclusions and findings that will be useful for a par­

ticular piece of policy research depend to a great extent on the ability and

willingness of policy makers and policy implementers to act upon recom­

mendations. Coming up with useful findings depends as much on in­

sightful assessment of the ability to use the findings as it does on skills in

analyzing the data themselves, without interpretation.