To punctuate the end of the second day of the rescheduled #2021APPAM, the Presidential Address featured the presentation of the David N. Kershaw Award to Sanya Carley of Indiana University, and the speech given by APPAM Past President Sherry Glied, Dean of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University.
Glied’s speech titled “Connecting the Dots: Turning Research Evidence into Evidence for Policy Making” challenged participants online and in person to rethink their perspectives on what evidence-based means. To start, Glied laid out a research schema based on three parts: collection of observations, synthesis of observations, and policymaking and tradeoffs. With a sharp and timely example on masks and their usefulness, the first point of the presentation emerged, there is a need for better research certainly, but that is not enough, it’s important to also focus on the synthesis of observations, connecting the dots.
The focus on synthesis is not one without context, Glied argued. Better synthesis is important to move into quantitative estimates, so that policymakers can move towards the final part of the schema, thinking about tradeoffs. This should be complemented, according to Glied, by a renewed focus on external validity alongside the field’s clear understanding of internal validity. A good way to take this on would be to look at the way others do this effectively, such as those engaging in intelligence analysis.
Glied concluded by recapping that the future of evidence-based policy making is a mix of better or renewed focus on synthesis, external validity and control groups, being deliberate about weighting studies. Even more, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management is the right mix of scholars and practitioner members to take it on, by working together and expanding the boundaries of the field.