This ongoing collaboration with Matthew Weber and Itzhak Yanovitzky (Rutgers) uses discourse analysis and network analysis to follow how policymakers exchange evidence in congressional hearings.policy research networks qualitative
Despite considerable interest in strategies for promoting evidence-informed policymaking, research that tracks and analyzes use of research evidence in public policymaking is scarce. We use social network analysis to trace the flow of research evidence in the context of childhood obesity legislation from 2000-2014. Network analysis is used to examine how political homophily, or policymakers’ shared group affiliations, and various structural characteristics of the policy network influence evidence exchange over this period. Our study finds that the combined effects of homophily as well as structural connectedness increase the probability that policymakers share evidence in this domain. More specifically, we show that being connected to a specific range of actors in a policy network may create a space where individuals are more likely to share research evidence. Together, these findings help explain key aspects of evidence use to develop legislation and builds theory regarding how evidence is exchanged across policy domains.