Wednesday, March 18, 2020

APPAM Launches COVID-19 Member Resources, Data and Research Collaboration Hub

As many professional organizations around the globe explore ways that they can contribute to addressing the current public health crisis, APPAM would like to provide members with a platform for interacting and sharing ideas focused around the COVID-19 topic. To that end, we are launching a Resources, Data, and Research Collaboration Hub.


Session Summary: Opening Plenary and Breakfast

Henry Smart III is a PhD student and graduate assistant at Virginia Tech.

Bridging the Gap Between Research, Policy and Practice
Moderator: Angela Evans, University of Texas, Austin and Past APPAM President

  • Jon Baron, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (present)/Laura and John Arnold Foundation (as of April 15th)
  • Melissa Kearney, The Hamilton Project
  • Brendan Kelly, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families
  • Jim Sullivan, The Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), University of Notre Dame
  • Don Wolfensberger, The Woodrow Wilson Center/The Bipartisan Policy Center

The Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame works to bridge the gap between researchers and service providers. Jim Sullivan of LEO encouraged collaboration between the researchers and service providers, and he stated that such collaboration tends to yield better chances of policy diffusion (paraphrased).

Don Wolfensberger encouraged researchers to keep members of Congress abreast of their current projects.   

The majority of the panelists are proponents of randomized control trials (RTCs). However, an audience member (Larry Mead, NYU) encouraged the panelists to think more broadly about other forms of evidence-based research.  

Jon Baron of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy provided an example of how strong evidence can help to move the dial for large-scale issues.He stated that the field of social policy could be more strategic in their approach to evidence-based research. Jon’s organization is considering an investment in low-cost programs that reduce risk and improve outcomes.

Melissa Kearney of The Hamilton Project attempts to give scholars a voice. The Hamilton Project solicits input/papers from scholars on a myriad of topics.

Brendan Kelly of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) explained that most of the organization’s work is executed via contracts. OPRE focuses mostly on randomized trials. He stressed the importance of two factors in research, transparency and meaning.  

Jim Sullivan of LEO invites leading scholars to participate in research projects. Jim states that when researchers partners with a network of providers, there is the opportunity for faster policy diffusion. LEO is filling in the gap between researchers and service providers. LEO is also an advocate for RCTs.

Don Wolfensberger at The Woodrow Wilson Center/The Bipartisan Policy Center provided an example of the gap between research and Congress, Original Jurisdiction. Don’s recommendation, “Visit your member’s office when your member is in the district.” “Pay a visit and let them know what you are working on.

A member of the audience suggested that the RCTs shouldn’t be the only mechanism used to answer the big questions.

Jim Sullivan an advocate for natural studies stated that there are some organizations that are collecting useful information that researchers may be unaware of.


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