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From perception to objectivity: How think tanks' search for credibility may lead to a more rigorous assessment of research quality

Mendizabal, Enrique

The diversity of think tank formation and development has created fertile ground for innovation with respect to how they communicate evidence and advice. Their emphasis on non-academic impact demands that they pay attention to how multiple audiences perceive them and their work: what the worry about most is the relevance and usefulness of their work. Therefore, while objectively verifiable assessments of the quality of their research are important, subjective factors play make a greater contribution to the credibility of think tanks and their research. In their search for credibility think tanks have adopted rather successful approaches to communicating evidence that are compatible with research centres which, by their nature, would place greater emphasis on objectively verifiable indicators of research quality. These approaches make it possible to develop new relationships that facilitate a closer, deeper and longer engagement with multiple publics; which has the unintended effect of refocusing the assessment of their credibility from subjective to objective criteria. To establish and maintain these relationships, however, research centres will have to usher in important changes to the way they are managed, funded, the way they undertake research, and the strategies they use to communicate. 

Published by African Minds.
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