Skip to main content Skip to footer

Reports and toolkits

CAPE Policy Fellowships Contracts Guidance Note

Policy Fellowships – placing university research and research services staff into policy organisations – is a fast-growing area of academic policy engagement activity. Our experience at CAPE has shown that establishing a process for Policy Fellows and finalising contracts can be time and resource intensive. This is because they have tended to require bespoke contracts that reflect the circumstances of each fellowship as well as the requirements of the university, host policy organisation and any third-party funder in relation to the fellowship.

Our Contracts Guidance Note is designed to be used as a reference tool for university staff seeking to create fellowships. It includes common contract negotiation points, clarification of terminology, and a suggested process timeline.

Engaging with Evidence toolkit

This is a toolkit on how to utilise, synthesise, scrutinise, and engage with evidence and expertise for policy development. It was created by Nesta in partnership with the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement (CAPE) programme and the Chief Scientific Adviser’s (CSA) Office at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). 

It’s been designed to help translate the ambition of evidence-informed decision-making into actionable learning content that can be adapted to different contexts, time frames and work plans.

It offers a range of interactive activities that you can use to determine what evidence and expertise is needed for what purposes – and the principles, processes, methodologies, and tools that can support this work.

Hosting Policy Fellows:
a guide for Higher Education Institutions 

Policy Fellowships, where academics and policy professionals spend time in each other’s organisations to exchange knowledge, are becoming a far more visible and common method of supporting academic-policy engagement. From 2020-22 CAPE adapted the model pioneered by the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) to run a pilot collaborative Policy Fellowship programme, whereby policy professionals spent time in CAPE universities meeting academics and research services staff.

Based upon our experience, our new guide Hosting Policy Fellows: a guide for Higher Education Institutions shares knowledge, processes, and procedures of setting up and delivering a Policy Fellowship programme alongside indications of resourcing and timelines. It also provides templates that universities can use.

Our aim is to support HEIs who wish to run, formalise, or get involved in existing Policy Fellowship programmes as part of their wider academic-policy engagement strategies. If you’re planning on using the guide, we’d love your feedback so get in touch!

Report: Perceptions and Experiences of Academic Policy Engagement in UK Higher Education Institutions 

Following a CAPE survey, we are pleased to publish our report Perceptions and Experiences of Academic Policy Engagement in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In the report we explore what academic policy engagement means, what the experience of engaging is like on the ground, and what a ‘good outcome’ looks like to both academics and professional services staff.

Our key findings highlighted that:

  • Academics and professional services across UK HEIs are committed to trying to effect change through academic policy engagement.
  • Relationships matter both in the act of engaging with policy and also the outcome of that engagement.
  • Engaging with policy can be rewarding for academics but it is also hard work and time intensive.
  • Better systems and structures are needed to support engagement: more time, funding, and reward should be given especially earlier in academic careers. Professional services need improved career trajectories.

Lessons from literature and practice: how to support successful academic-policy engagement

With increasing scholarly investigation of academic-policy engagement in recent years, we explore what common insights are emerging from this literature and what this tells us about how to have successful engagement in practice.

Journal article: What works to promote research-policy engagement?

Paper from Transforming Evidence, CAPE’s evaluation team, reviewing current research policy engagement activities from organisations world-wide. Their research finds that most initiatives do not draw on existing evidence and theory and are unevaluated.  Future initiatives need to be based upon evidence of what works.