Back in March this year, we attended a Sciencewise (the UK’s national centre for public dialogue in policy making involving science and technology issues) workshop. The session was for research practioners and covered its new framework for assessing the quality of public dialogue in public policy making. The debate was driven partly by the findings from evaluations of public dialogue projects supported by Sciencewise. These have identified specific questions about the rigour and quality of dialogue processes, and the implications of those questions for the extent to which dialogue results can be used with confidence to inform public policy decisions.
Following extensive consultation, Sciencewise has recently published its framework which provides a set of questions on public dialogue practice, designed to stimulate thinking and open up design options. It is intended to act as a practical check list for policy makers, research practitioners and evaluators; as well as a contribution to the wider thinking about public dialogue.
The framework draws extensively on existing guidance, particularly from HM Treasury’s Quality in Qualitative Evaluation framework and the Sciencewise Guiding Principles. It follows the same structure of the Guiding Principles in covering context, scope, delivery, impact and evaluation.
The new framework aims to address a number of tricky questions, including:
In our view, there are many challenges in getting public dialogue right and, whilst we have extensive experience in this area, we feel that any additional resources for policy makers and practitioners are very welcome. Click here to download the framework.