Overton Blog

Sneak peek: Overton Engage’s policy engagement training programme

Our brand new tool Overton Engage is here to support universities with policy engagement. The platform is designed to quickly notify researchers of relevant engagement opportunities but also ensures that they are ready to respond effectively, through a programme of learning designed to bridge the gap between research and policymaking.

Here we give you exclusive access to the training programme outlining what you will learn. The full suite of learning materials are available with an institutional subscription (get in touch to find out more here).

Whether you're a seasoned researcher or just starting out, Overton Engage provides you with the tools and knowledge to effectively influence policy and make a tangible impact with your work. Let's dive into the key topics our training covers and how it can benefit you.

What will you learn?

The self-guided course serves as an introduction to policy engagement. The modules will take you through what the policymaking process looks like, who and what is involved and how to share your findings and expertise with decision makers.

We show you different routes to engagement - and how you might influence in different ways at different stages of the policymaking process - and explain how to follow through successfully, for example practical tips for communicating with decision makers.

There’s a lot to cover, and we’ve tried to keep the balance between providing more general information on how the policy sphere operates with detailed information and hands on strategies for translating your findings. 

There’s no magic formula to policy success. A lot of it is down to luck and relationships, and it’s hard to teach that (though we do explore how you can cultivate a network to both kick-start and maintain relevant policy contacts in one of the modules). But here are some of our most useful tips and insights that we think will make a real difference to your engagement efforts.

1. “In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards people-centred policy design which is changing the way in which policies are developed”

Since policymakers want to include real-life experiences in their decisions, researchers should think about how they can adjust their studies - or their write ups of findings - to include these perspectives. Explore the ‘What are policymakers looking for?’ module to learn more, and to get some examples of how to do this.

2. “Policymakers are busy people working under pressure and often interacting with a wide range of policy actors and stakeholders with diverse and potentially conflicting views and objectives. If you can be helpful to a policymaker – for example, by providing a succinct summary of key information in a timely manner – they are likely to remember this and come back to you for assistance in the future.”

Influencing policymakers doesn’t just mean sharing a specific paper or publication. It can involve providing general guidance and expertise. While you may feel that a particular set of findings is valuable and will ultimately be useful and necessary, you may have to build up to that by generating trust and legitimacy first. Helping policymakers to understand your ‘space’ in a broad way would stand you in good stead.

3. “Focus on the problem, potential solutions, and your key findings. Be clear about why your research matters and explain how it can be used to develop new policies or improve existing ones. Share specific recommendations for specific groups or organisations.”

When communicating your findings, in documents like a policy brief, you need to ensure that you speak in the language of the policymaker not the language of academia. Be direct, clear and relevant and don’t be afraid to make suggestions!

Our hopes for you

As a researcher - especially if you’re just starting out - you juggle a lot of different priorities. We know that policy engagement might be something you want to do. But it can be tough to find the time when your career is full of uncertainties, short-term contracts, moving, teaching, conferences, and the constant pressure to publish. 

What we hope to do with this course is to save you time - to help you take a more focused and strategic approach to policy engagement, so that you can make the most of your knowledge and maximise the time and effort that you are putting in!


You can explore Overton Engage's policy engagement opportunities now for free. To get access to the training, as well as other premium features like researcher matching, you will need a subscription. Institutions, or organisations wanting to get strategic about policy engagement, should enquire now to get a free trial of the platform.

What is Overton

Overton connects research with public policy. Our suite of products helps you find, evidence and grow the real-world impact of your work.

Our flagship product Overton Index is the world’s largest policy and grey literature database. You can discover over 13 million policy documents, linked to all the evidence it references - use as a grey literature searching tool or a way to track and evidence the reach and influence of research.

Our new tool Overton Engage contains policy engagement opportunities from all over the world, brought together in a single searchable interface - it offers a direct way to access policymakers and affect real world change.

Get a global view of the policy with the tools to study it in depth.