Friday, September 14, 2018

Watch the Member Forum On Demand: At the Intersection of Data Science and Social Science

The proliferation of new digital data sources and the development of new programming languages that can quickly make sense of these data are changing the nature of how public policy makers and the general public understand how government works – and when it doesn’t. This discussion focused on the road ahead for data and social science, how to communicate better when the lanes merge, and what this all means for getting to better-informed policies and programs that improve public well-being.


Session Summary: The Two-Way Street: A Conversation Among Policymakers and Researchers about Strategies for Successful Researcher-policymaker Interaction

Paige Pierce is a master's student at George Washington University.


  • Leigh Bordley, Durham Public Schools
  • Tom Brock, National Center for Education Research
  • Jenni Owen, Duke University
  • Matt Stagner – Mathematica Policy Research

This session was moderated by Matt Stagner of Mathematica Policy Research, who led off this conversation with the comment that this panel evaluates how the relationship between policymakers and researchers have been operating more as a one-way street, but that the need is for this to be a two-way street dialogue.

The panelist were: Jenni Owen at the Duke University, Leigh Bordley at Durham Public Schools, and Tom Brock at the National Center for Education Research.

Leigh Bordley, stated that she was so surprised about how passionate the researchers were about getting their data and reports to policymakers, and said that the way she now viewed the relationship should be more about how policymakers could contribute and adjust to make the collaboration between researchers and policymakers more effective.

She noted that most policymakers like most people, consider themselves experts on what they do and what they have experienced, leading to the view that the addition of research is not useful and sometime unnecessary. This thinking she said, has become dangerous and detrimental to making effective policy changes. 

Both Jenni Owen and Tom Brock, identified that there needs to be adjustments made to the type of research being disseminated and targeting the research to the appropriate audiences. The common theme and agreement amongst all of the panelists is that the transactions between these two communities needs to be more about partnerships than anything else.


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