Researcher Trainings

Our trainings are designed to engage attendees in learning new skills. As such, trainings are intended to involve highly interactive sessions. Trainings are also adapted to different disciplines and policymaking contexts (e.g., states). Recordings and materials from prior live trainings are provided below.

Many groups find it beneficial to schedule a live training with their particular group, organization, or association. To inquire about arranging a live training, please contact Taylor Scott.


I. Introduction to the Research-to-Policy Collaboration

Description: This training will introduce viewers to the RPC model. On the surface, it seems simple to create more evidence-based policy. Research can show us what is likely to be (in)effective, what’s so hard about getting that into formal legislation? As it turns out, there are a lot of barriers. In this video, we cover the barriers to successful researcher-policymaker relationships and the RPC’s model for overcoming these barriers. Specifically, the RPC forms trusting relationships between legislative offices and researchers as well as maintains structures to support those relationships. Watch this training to become familiar with the problem and our solution.

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II. Building Rapport with Policymakers and Navigating our “Parallel Universes”

Just as any new relationship is difficult at first, forming and maintaining relationships with policymakers is no easy feat. Luckily, learning about the realities of policymaking and reflecting on one’s own experiences can support these relationships. This training provides a brief content overview, details the differences in cultures between researchers and policymakers, and describes interpersonal strategies that help build connections between the communities. Instructions for an introspective exercise to improve collaborations with policymakers are also provided.

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III. Policy Process

Knowing the policy process and terminology can help individuals feel more confident in meetings with legislative offices. This training introduces viewers to the language of policymaking, including steps in the legislative process, important vocabulary words, the main types of policies that exist, and how researchers can get involved.

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IV. Avoiding the “Slippery Slope” Of Lobbying 

The RPC trains researchers on how to act as “honest brokers”, or neutral arbiters of scientific information. We discuss myriad implications of research and provide menus of “options” on how to use research evidence without lobbying for a specific policy agenda or solution. This is key to remaining nonpartisan and maintaining trusting relationships with offices. This training describes the difference between educational advocacy and lobbying, when and why each are allowed, and how it can affect relationships with policymakers. We provide several examples to help guide you through the process of learning these differences. 

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V. Science Communication

At this point, viewers know some of the basics about interacting with policymakers – why these relationships are needed, the realities of policymaking, and the capacity in which researchers engage –  but not how to communicate their research so it is best received. The RPC provides support in reviewing our network’s products and preparing them for policymaker consumption. This training details key science communication strategies including using simple language, focusing on solutions, telling stories, and displaying data. This training also covers what formats science communications can take, ranging from op-eds to congressional hearings.

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 VI. Legislative Meetings and Role-Play Exercise

Given the variety of responsibilities legislative office staff have and myriad stakeholders hoping for a minute of their time, it is no surprise that legislative offices have packed schedules. Offices are interested in meeting with researchers in our network, but finding a time to meet can be difficult. Once the meeting is scheduled, the meeting itself is less daunting and, at times, formal than one might expect. This training describes the nuts and bolts of legislative meetings, including scheduling, meeting preparation, what to expect during the meeting, and guidance for following-up. Practice makes perfect, so role playing is encouraged. Though the participants’ responses to the role-play exercise are not recorded, the instructions are included so viewers can try it too.

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