Ebbs and flows of knowledge and influence across the science-policy interface

Studying the influence of scientific research on science policy, and the influence of science policy on scientific research, in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The need and impact

How do we quantitatively identify the relationship between money, research, and influence at the science-policy interface?

This project draws on the recent digitisation of policy records and developments in natural language processing to study policy influence networks. It aims to measure the influence of scientific research on science policy on the one hand, and the influence of science policy on subsequent scientific research on the other.

Focusing initially on environmental science policy, this project plans to impact how policymakers in Aotearoa New Zealand use science for forming public policy and research agendas.

The approach

This project has three broad research goals:

  • To simplify interactions that exist at the science-policy interface by examining the flows of ideas and money that cross it.
  • To characterise the geography and dynamics of policy influence in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • To quantify the translation of inequities that exist within research career paths into potential inequities of policy influence.

Research aims

  • Develop a simplified model of influence flows across the science-policy interface to guide subsequent empirical work.
  • Construct a dataset linking funding information, bibliometric information, and science citations from policy.
  • Characterise the geographical and temporal dimensions of science-policy influence, from scientific sources internal and external to Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Develop natural-language-based measures of changes in science policy and research directions.
  • Measure where inequities present at the individual-researcher level translate into inequities in policy influence and identify mitigation strategies.


  • Dr Kyle Higham (Project Lead)
  • Dr Mubashir Qasim
  • Professor Troy Baisden
  • Dr Bernardo Buarque