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Vladimír Šucha and Marta Sienkiewicz on why science advice needs to change

Vladimír Šucha and Marta Sienkiewicz on why science advice needs to change

Science for Policy podcast episode

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5 October 2020


Show notes

How can science advice — and science in general — keep up with dramatic changes in the world? How do you build an organisation that can translate scientific results into policy solutions? What responsibilities do politicians have when they choose to ignore or override scientific advice?

Vladimír Šucha and Marta Sienkiewicz discuss these questions with Toby Wardman of SAPEA. We also discuss the nature of trust, how intimately linked scientists and politicians can safely become, and whether scientists do in fact know everything.


The transcript below was generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies.

Toby: Hello, welcome to the Science for Policy podcast. I'm Toby and today I'm joined by two people who each have many interesting things to recommend them but who are here to talk with me today because they're jointly the creators and editors of a new handbook on science for policy called, if you can believe it, the Science for Policy handbook. So Dr Vladimír Šucha was until 2019 the head of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, that's an in-house service whose scientists provide scientific support and input to the Commission's work at all levels. He now works as a special advisor on education and culture to the European Commission. In parallel with a distinguished career in policy and politics at both European level and in his native Slovakia, Vladimír has an academic track record in the field of earth and environmental sciences. I'm also joined by Marta Sienkiewicz who has a background in sociology and now works as a project officer at the Joint Research Centre or JRC as we better get used to calling it I suppose today. She works specifically on ways to strengthen the impact of scientific research on policy making. No doubt the fact that she's co-editor of the Science for Policy handbook along with Vladimír is all part of that. So Marta and Vladimír thank you both very much for joining me.

Vladimír: Yeah thank you Toby, it's a pleasure to be with you.

Marta: Thank you for having us.

Toby: Sure so let's not waste time, we have lots to talk about. Vladimír perhaps I could come to you first. Could you give us a brief overview of this Science for Policy handbook that you've worked on? How did it come about and what did it do?

Vladimír: Yeah well the history goes back to my start as a director general or even earlier as a deputy director general in the JRC back in 2012 when I had the luxury of being deputy not having the burden of all responsibility on my shoulders immediately. I could observe that the JRC is an excellent research organisation but it is left a little bit at the margin of the interest and political interest and political decisions of the European Commission. I was just wondering why it is and then I came to the conclusion that probably we are not in the centre of the political and policy decisions because we are unable to provide the knowledge and the evidence in a form and in a timing which is needed for the policymakers. So then we started back in 2014 with quite significant restructuring of the JRC, of the work, what we do and this is how we did this quite a significant probably the biggest reform of the JRC in the past two straight decades. And it was actually met with quite a lot of positive feedback from the colleagues from the policy making and in the past two years, two, three years we have been called to the really top meetings and we have been able to provide the evidence for the most important decisions of the European Commission in the past two, three years. And coming back to your question is that at the end we thought that okay so this was successful it's probably a good idea to share our knowledge, share our experience with the others and this is how we come up with the idea of the book.

Toby: Great, yeah okay so that's an interesting bit of internal background to the JRC which I definitely want to come back to. But in the handbook you don't just talk about how you fixed the JRC as it were, you talk more generally about how the same challenge that the JRC faces or was facing... you think the whole world of science for policy is also facing right now because of dramatic fundamental changes in the world at large and your idea is that these changes demand not more, not just more science advice but specifically a new kind of science advice and a new way of delivering it. Which I think you call in a very zeitgeisty way science for policy 2.0. So let's take it one step at a time. What was science for policy 1.0 and what was wrong with it?

Vladimír: Yeah the 1.0 is our traditional approach of science being closed in the universities, institutes, in ivory towers of science and then when they finished some research they send the results to the policymakers without really understanding properly how policy works. And that was sometimes met with the success, sometimes it was not really very successful and led to frustration of scientists but also to the frustration of policymakers because they would love to have some scientific evidence, some scientific advice but very often science was unable to provide this advice. And the changes which you mentioned, which we are describing at the beginning of the handbook are really dramatic. We are changing dramatically our life, it's probably the biggest revolution, technological revolution which we are facing right now in the history of humanity. We have enormous deluge of knowledge, data, information and subsequently the knowledge. And obviously all relations and settings in the society are changing. So this requires completely new approach to science policy interaction and creation of the evidence. And this is what we call science for policy 2.0 and probably later on we can discuss what are the main features of this.

Marta: I think an important point to add as well is that I would say in the 1.0 model the science advice, the use of evidence was very much focused around this idea of a deficit model. So essentially if only we could provide more knowledge that would solve all the problems and that would mean it would be automatically picked up. But I think that right now science actually has a lot of competition for attention and we have such a media landscape and quite a polarised political landscape in many places as well that creates a situation where essentially everyone can find some sort of evidence or knowledge, even if you call them quotation marks due to the robustness, that can support their position and their way of thinking. So in that sense if we think about those of the cognitive processes when it comes to what knowledge is picked up, how citizens and policy makers filter knowledge and what even gets on their radar, I think in that sense science also has to adapt in order to remain relevant in this competition. I mean of course it's a complex ecosystem and it's not to say that it's only the responsibility of scientists to completely change their ways, but there is a role that they have to play in that process.

Toby: And the sense I'm getting I guess as well, because you describe it as going from 1.0 to 2.0 and not say to 1.1 or something, the sense I'm getting is that this is not just the normal gradual evolution of society and development of how to do things, it's a really dramatic change which we're seeing just now for the first time. Is that fair?

Vladimír: Yes, I think this is a fair description. I think that we are actually going through some revolutionary changes and I think that all parts of society, including science and including policy making, must get ready for it and must adapt to these new circumstances. So then the way how the policy was created before or how the science was performing before is not valid anymore. And if both would like to survive and play an important role in the society as they used to play in the past, they have to adapt. So it's not just science advice that needs to change science itself? Absolutely, science is facing several challenges. One is the integrity of science. I think that we have the explosion of the problems which are related to the integrity of science and I think that in this respect science must find the completely new way how to improve the integrity and trust in the society. But also we have many non-scientific actors now entering the field of science or entering the field of data information and knowledge. And in this respect we have to somehow adapt to this phenomena that it's not, I would say, only the field for the scientists. Anybody is entering and anybody is able to provide fake news but anybody is actually able to provide very relevant, very relevant, important and interesting knowledge right now because of these changes in technologies in the society. So I think that from that point of view this is a fundamental change. And the biggest challenge in front of the science is complexity of the world because everything is becoming faster, everything is becoming closer and science is still embedded in the silos of the fields and it's very rare to see the science being able to become really interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and to tackle the complex issues. And all policy questions are complex so then if science is unable to do it so then we have a problem.

Toby: That's interesting. So I do want to get into the practical question of what exactly is your prescription, what does quote-unquote science need to do to adapt to these challenges but I also have a more general question about that particular target audience because it's all very well to say the JRC faced such and such a challenge and it adapted and now it fits better with the political landscape that it works in. But that's a very specific institutional setting in your handbook. I take it aims to speak much more broadly than that. So in which case to whom? When you say science needs to change, well there isn't one monolithic institution called science. So who exactly is your advice for?

Vladimír: So the handbook can be actually used by anybody, any scientist, any scientific organisation which is willing to enter the field of science and policy interaction. To anybody who is willing or aiming at using his or her knowledge for the better society. So actually this is it can be university, it can be academia, it can be individual scientists who would like to be in one or another way involved in policy making.

Toby: There is one interpretation of what you're saying which could be seen as threatening to what many people think science is fundamentally about. Do you see any space in the world at all for the model of the scientist who just sits in the ivory tower and does his or her own research for the sake of intellectual curiosity and progress in the field? Or is that idea of a purely academic scientist disconnected from society? Is that all part of 1.0 and needs to be swept away?

Vladimír: No, no I don't think that this must be totally abandoned. I think that we need to adapt the combination because in the process of science and scientific discoveries we need to have a tranquility, we need to have sometimes a separation. But we cannot have an institution or we cannot have all significant part of our scientific career which is isolated from the society. I don't think that this is possible right now. So we need to separate, we need to have a little bit of the space for reflection. But at the same time we need to be in a sort of social interaction with the society because otherwise we are unable to understand the complexity of the society if we really want that the science is contributing to the development of the society.

Marta: It is a bit of a spectrum in terms of different roles within the field of science. So I would say that there are some scientists who perhaps won't have to dramatically change their practices because they just have to do their research as they used to do it. But they have to understand that perhaps they are part of a broader mechanism of bringing the science and translating the science further towards policy making. I don't think that all scientists have to become necessarily extremely applied and work super closely with policy makers. But at the same time even if they provide something that some of their colleagues who are working closely with policy makers are discussing with them, they still need to have an awareness that their knowledge is landing somewhere further on. And for that I think it is best when there are institutional processes or mechanisms through which then we can make connections between this work which is slightly more isolated, done a little bit more in the tranquility of one's office or lab, but then having ways through which it can be channeled or it can be part of this two-way communication with policy makers so that we can make sense of it in the context of what it could mean for society or for policy.

Toby: All right, so this is good. We're getting onto the practical side of things. So what kind of institutional setups are you talking about? Is this the role you see for boundary organisations working between science and policy?

Marta: I would say it doesn't necessarily have to be boundary organisations per se, but these should be then some sort of boundary setups. So I leave to Vladimír perhaps to discuss the details, but within the JRC we have set up in the recent use the knowledge centres and the competence centres for instance, or the communities of practice which work around specific, not necessarily academic disciplines, but rather policy topics and bring knowledge from different corners and try to build those interactions with external stakeholders as well. So these are ways through which more systematically policy makers and scientists can come together or at least can have some productive interactions even if we have teams behind that do the science still in more details and who are working not necessarily in direct contact with policy makers.

Vladimír: Yeah, we can talk about boundary organisations. Indeed, JRC is, I would say, a typical boundary organisation between science and policy making, but it's not necessarily only, we should not be talking only about the organisations, we can be talking about the part, some parts of the organisation. I can perfectly imagine Academy of Sciences developing one department or one part of the body of Academy to interact on a more regular basis with the policy making, understanding policy making and making links towards different parts of the Academy, towards different members of the Academy depending on the setting and being able to in a way translate the science into scientific evidence for policy making because this is actually the role of the boundary organisation is to translate the needs of the policy makers into scientific questions. In a way, we have to understand that policy problem is not automatically research question and vice versa research outcome or scientific outcome is not automatically the answer to the policy need. So then we need to have this boundary filtering or translation, however we want to call it, and this can be done, this can be created at the university or it can be a consortium of different universities, it can be Academy of Sciences, it can be many different settings. Obviously, Commission is lucky to have a Joint Research Centre but it's unlucky not to have any European university or any European Academy which is not rooted in one member state and Commission needs to have an independent scientific body in this respect, so that's why the Joint Research Centre was created many years ago. So then there are different ways, it doesn't need to be only the organisations like a Joint Research Centre but it can be different institutional settings. Only what we need to bear in mind is this translation function, that if we take the scientist directly from the lab and we place him or her to the policy department of the ministry or commission department it is very likely to be a failure. So then we need to have, we need to understand that these are two completely different worlds with two completely different settings of rules, settings of workflows, approaches, mindsets, and this needs to be respected and in a way somehow took care of.

Toby: Yeah okay, I mean that makes perfect sense, there's nothing to argue with there but now I worry that I've pushed you too far in the other direction because what you just described sounds to me like the traditional model where you have the scientist doing the work and then you have your neutral brokers, the science communicators, the boundary organisations, however you describe them, translating their scientific results and packaging it so it's useful to policymakers. I don't think that can be the essence of 2.0 because it sounds to me like what's already happening certainly in academies that I know about and universities that have aspirations for their research to impact on policy making.

Vladimír: No indeed, indeed this is we are talking about... your question was about institutional settings. It's I would say necessary frame for science for policy 2.0. What is in the essence is exactly co-creation, is this creation of the trust, is intimate collaboration between policymakers and scientists because very often and when we are talking about this deficit model or 1.0 these are sets of recommendations which are provided by the science. These are reports at the end of each report they are 20 to 100 recommendations which policymakers are supposed to adopt which when I was on the side of the policymakers it made me totally frustrated because you know whatever I do I am unable to adopt 90 or 50 recommendations and this is not the role of science. Science is not supposed to recommend this is really in a way the decision of the policymakers and the politicians. So we may work together but we need to respect our own role in this process and the role of science is to provide the evidence, to provide the scenarios, provide the options but the decision is with the policymakers and with the politicians. So then this is first and the most important feature is this co-creation to create the spaces for the meeting, for informal settings, for informal exchange of information. We know that very often informal advice, informal evidence is much more powerful than the formal reports. So that's the first element. The second element is indeed the complexity, embracing complexity and this is for which you need to enter this interdisciplinarity, this cooperation on the side of the scientists, the cooperation between disciplines, natural sciences, engineering, technical sciences with humanities and social sciences and that's not obvious. How many organisations you have on this planet able to provide this kind of complex answer? So not that very many. So this is one or the second very important element. A third important element is actually dealing with this data information and knowledge deluge, is to work as a lighthouse, as somebody who is able to filter, package, process and package the knowledge in a way that it is digestible by the policymakers and this is another very important issue. How many research organisations, universities we have with a clear policy on knowledge management? Not that many. And the fourth element is forward-looking skills, the build or abandon the old-fashioned extrapolation of the past into the future. So it's not working like this because in this exponential time we are most likely to make the mistakes whenever we try to extrapolate the past into the future. So then this is the fourth important dimension which is in a way in the foundation of science for policy 2.0.

Toby: All right great thanks. I'm sorry for taking you around the houses to get there but I think it's clear. So we have co-creation, we have interdisciplinary work which we need to tackle the big increase in complexity, we have knowledge management so working as a lighthouse for non-scientists as you put it very vividly, and then we have a new kind of foresight which doesn't assume things will continue as they are.

Marta: I think also an important distinction compared to what you said, Toby, about the sort of traditional way of translating certain results and sort of picking up what could be relevant for policy. I think what's fundamental in our vision is that scientists if they want to have impact and if they want to be relevant should actually from the very beginning think in terms of what research questions will be relevant in a particular moment and it doesn't always have to be research questions for new research it might also be questions that are much more for knowledge management and for just assembling different pieces of evidence and essentially as opposed to figuring out at the end what could be of interest to policymakers from all this work starting from the point of how do we want to help the current policy process. That's I think an important part of the shift.

Toby: Yeah so setting the research agenda with an eye on what policymakers might need. You mentioned this in passing a while ago I think Marta, your handbook is obviously aimed at the science side but do you think there's a responsibility also for policymakers to change how they do things?

Marta: That is actually what we tend to think and part of our work is also directed to policymakers. We are actually thinking of what are the competencies, key competencies that resilient policymakers need to have and a big part of that is indeed the capacity to work with evidence to properly understand it and to know how to manage the relationships with scientists. I tend to say that it's not just a burden on the side of scientists and they may change all they want but if there is not going to be any willingness to also open up and to want to listen I think this is sort of a two-way street. I mean I would say that it's not to blame either side because I think these are simply often words which are structured in slightly different ways and it's difficult for them to immediately understand each other but I think policymakers are hungry for that knowledge and I think there is some willingness on their side. There is work to be done as well on their side.

Vladimír: Yeah the important part is the creation of trust and mutual understanding. And trust, well you can trust somebody on the human level but you need to trust each other also at I would say this professional level. That means to understand each other and I can tell you two examples of what we introduce in JRC. We introduce the placement of scientists into policy departments and at the beginning it was quite difficult to overcome the barrier because the people on the side of the policymakers they were a bit hesitant saying oh we are extremely busy we don't have space and maybe we can do it later etc. But first when we did it when we convinced few departments of the commission to take scientists for a few weeks and that was you know like the avalanche. It was complete change on both sides. Other scientists in spite of working for years in JRC were completely shocked and surprised by the way the policy making is working and the colleagues from the policy departments they were absolutely excited. Oh we have somebody we can always come to talk and to ask the question we do not understand and they know everything or if they don't know they know where to find it. This is fantastic let's do it more frequently let's do it more. So when that opened the avalanche in a way and then we also introduced in this period of co-creation and cooperation and interaction the series of summer schools or it was then winter schools and spring schools etc. Putting together the scientists and policymakers together to talk about one particular topic policy related topic and this was also extremely successful extremely useful and just showed very clearly that there is in a way hidden hunger on both sides and they didn't know they would need this but actually they were surprised how useful this kind of interaction was and I think that these two examples simply they were convincing us that this is the right way.

Toby: Let's talk a bit about co-creation then which is one of the key elements you mentioned and yeah and it's certainly a buzzword at the moment. So I want to try and put to you two slightly mischievous objections to the whole idea and then you can pick up on either or both of them whichever you think has the most merit. So the first objection is the more traditional one and it goes something like this. If you start intertwining policymakers and scientists don't you start to lose something important which is the clear demarcation between the two which has the value of preserving the independence of science reducing the risk of bias reducing the risk actually of what Marta was endorsing a few minutes ago which is when scientists plan their research they try to consciously punt it in the direction which they think policymakers will find relevant. I mean in itself that's kind of okay but then there's a fine line between working on society's priorities and working on what you think the politician to the day will find interesting which is not necessarily compatible with the traditional model of the scholarly life as like pure and independent and self-directed and often keeping a clear separation between science and policy is supposed to be the antidote to that risk and also the antidote to things like group think and so on where you don't want to have all the work done in one room with closed doors because that can limit creativity. So that's one kind of objection possibly. And the second one is more about perception so thinking about what you said, Vladimír, about trust, you're right. I'm sure to suggest that intertwining science and policy strengthens that mutual trust between scientists and policymakers. Sure, but there's another important kind of trust which is the trust that the public needs to have in the decisions that are being made. And one feature of the old linear model or 1.0 if you like is that it has a very clear distinction where the input of scientists at some point stops, and the decision path is to the political sphere. And things don't cross that boundary all the time, and that distinction is publicly visible, and its visibility is part of what maintains public trust in the whole model, maybe. So is there a risk that a system built on co-creation, which might well be much more effective as you say getting evidence into policy, nonetheless risks making that demarcation hard to see from the outside so it undermines public trust in the system, which could make it harder, I suppose then for scientists to give unbiased advice just because of the unclarity. I mean, okay, so that's a lot, I apologise, but like I say, feel free to pick up either of you and whatever you think is interesting.

Vladimír: Actually, I think that they're both very similar, and I think that it can be boiled down to integrity and transparency. Two distinct keywords, and for me, this is absolutely fundamental. So it doesn't mean that you are losing integrity and independence if you are interacting with somebody. So this would be very strange if we accept this. It is at the end of each policy process you provide the evidence, and it means that you have to keep your integrity in providing this evidence and publishing this evidence. And I think that John Research Centre is an excellent example of the organisation which is inside the huge administrative institutional, you may say bureaucratic setting, and still, the organisation over decades was able to maintain its own integrity and in a way independence. It's not, you know, it depends on how we look at this, but definitely, the integrity has been kept for decades. And that means that if there was a scientific evidence, this evidence was not adapted to the policy preferences. So then this is absolutely fundamental in this respect. So if this is kept, you may have as many interactions as you wish. Just, you need to be very rigorous in your evidence making. And well vis-à-vis democracy, science is not democratic, the policy-making is democratic. So it's not that this kind of interaction would somehow undermine any democratic principle because what would not be democratic if automatically every scientific result is taken and becoming the law or directive or whatever that would be completely undemocratic because scientific organisations are not democratic. The policy organisations are democratic; politicians are, in a way, produced by representative democracy. So then this is an important element to keep in mind. And the transparency is, in a way, important that even if there is a scientific evidence provided by the scientists, it can be refused by the policymakers, and you have very many examples when the scientific evidence has been, in a way, refused. But if this is transparently communicated to the public, so that's fine. And you may mention whatever field of nuclear energy, genetically modified organisms, many issues dealing with food safety or shale gas, whatever. You can take all those very controversial issues where the policy is deciding eventually against the evidence.

Marta: And thank you, Toby, for raising these issues because I think they definitely come as inevitably as part of the vision as we describe. And of course, there are risks of undue influence or certain pressures and expectations, but I think our clear line is that scientists need to be critical friends. So essentially, they need to be close because that helps with that helps to nuance and contextualise the knowledge that they have, and they can help policymakers make sense of it. But they also have to speak up in situations where that could be misused. I also understand where people are coming from because we hear this from our colleagues as well that they think they cannot talk to policymakers because it may compromise their research or even, you know, they might not want to create a slightly non-standard graph which could highlight some of the main points because that might be already influencing and not just objectively informing. But I think what we desperately need as a scientific community is having a more nuanced concept of objectivity and really understanding that there is no such thing as a view from nowhere, and no communication is neutral in that sense. We always choose what we decide to include in our briefs or include in our presentations, and if we take this extreme view that any contact or any strategic decision of how you communicate is already a breach of integrity, then we really run the risk of a lot of precious knowledge being lost, so I would say that transparency indeed is an important point. But also perhaps scientists who engage closely with policymakers need to find ways of recognising those pressures which are undue, and ways of fighting them off, of being brave and not simply following whatever might be sometimes expected of them in this mysterious sense. And if scientists think that they can be abused, and their trust can be abused, they don't necessarily have to engage in those circumstances, I think. And on the point of democracy versus technocracy in that sense, I think we quite often advocate for reframing the whole evidence-based discussion, a discussion about evidence-based policy making, into one which is about evidence-informed policy making -- really knowing that evidence is just one part of the decision process. And I think we're not really -- even in this integrated model of close collaboration and co-creation -- I don't think we really are at risk of that. I think, on the one hand, politicians and policymakers would still want to retain their boundary of saying no, I hear your advice, but I have the liberty to do whatever I want. But then I think what's important is the communication of the background of their decisions, and really clear communication to the public in terms of what the basis of the decision was. I don't know if we get that enough. Maybe not always. And just one I guess additional point is that, well, depending on how we think about democratic values, especially when you think about social science, a lot of social scientific insights can really bring in some interesting insights about human behaviour or certain inequities that actually help understand better the side of the population and of the citizens and and help actually improve democratic outcomes, potentially.

Toby: Yeah, that's a very interesting point and that's something I think we've seen in the scientific advice mechanism too, that the inclusion of social sciences, and humanities and philosophy and so on, can really take the edge off the so-called hard science and shore up the citizen perspective. As for the rest, hmm. Well, I mean, one thing I take away from what you're saying is that the more integrated the model, the more of the responsibility for maintaining integrity and keeping everything above board rests on the shoulders of the actors, the scientists, and the politicians, rather than relying on a systemic separation to protect you. I still have the perception worry though, and I think I may have thrown a spanner in by mentioning democratic values because I didn't intend to suggest... Well, the most skepticism I can muster for the purposes of the question uh is not that democratic values are really threatened by integrating expertise. I mean no doubt some people might argue that, but I think to me it's more about perception. Like you, I've never met a politician who will actually roll over and say oh okay, I mean that sounds stupid but I guess the scientists told me to do it so I'll just do it. You know, it doesn't happen. The risk I was raising was that the old model has a visible demarcation whereas the new model, with the new model, outsiders looking in will not see that clear demarcation so they might feel that something fishy is going on.

Marta: Yeah.

Toby: The democratic element is somehow polluted regardless of whether it actually is.

Marta: Yeah, no because I just wanted to add to that, that when it comes to those perceptions it's true that you may still hear politicians either, you know, blaming scientists for something or saying you know, this was all the the decision of the scientists or the advice of the scientists, or they use uncertainty in some way to maybe not take some decision. But I will say that that can happen whether or not you have this genuinely close relation between scientists and and policymakers. In a sense, if you have science present, or scientists present, in any case within the political debate whether as part of strong institutions or just as part of the debate overall, I think that that argument can still be made.

Toby: Well, I'm sure that's true. Also I suppose, when you've got the intertwined model, or at least where you have scientists and politicians working together and understanding each other's worlds a bit better, it's also a bit easier then to avoid some of the problems or deal with some of the problems that you mentioned about subjectivity and so on. Like for instance you mentioned a scientist who might worry that in by choosing the axes of their graph, or choosing to plot one thing against another, they're already making subjective choices and that endangers their objectivity. I mean I think we all agree that is indeed what they're doing, but that's unavoidable, that like you said there's no such thing as the view from nowhere and if you have a co-creation model the scientists can at least enter a dialogue about that graph with the policymakers and explain why they chose what they did and what they think it means and so on, and diagnose any potential misunderstandings and hopefully address them rather than I guess just dumping the report on the politician's desk and walking away.

Vladimír: Exactly. What is important is just also for the scientists to understand that they are not value-free and they are not 100 percent objective in their judgments. And actually they are not discovering the truth, they are discovering the latest best possible knowledge. Actually we need to understand that science is not ideal and the science does not have always the answer to whatever question is there.

Toby: Quite so. Okay so, I'm a research scientist, I've just finished reading your handbook and I'm all enthused and looking forward to my new life contributing meaningfully to policymaking. What's the single most important message that you hope is ringing in my ears as I close the book?

Vladimír: At least I'm a scientist as well, or I was a scientist. And I was always thinking in my scientific work how this knowledge which I have, or the things which I'm discovering, how they can help the society, how they can be useful. And I think that if we develop this kind of dimension in our work, if we always try as a scientist to look at the issue, at the result at the knowledge we have, from the angle of usefulness and impact on the society, I think that if we keep this in mind, I think that that would be the best contribution into slight change of the mindset.

Toby: Great. Marta, do you have a top tip?

Marta: It's a very tricky question, when you have to find one thing that is the first step to take. I think an important message that we're trying to pass with the book is that science-for-policy is is a sort of collective effort, a team sport, and there are already some processes that perhaps are in place into which individual scientists can plug themselves in. And if not, really to think, okay where I can find allies? Where I can find people or find platforms for which I could become more visible, you know, where could I speak? How could I make myself more known, so that I don't have to do it all by myself? And perhaps also think of: are there people around me who have those complementary skills? Are there communicators in my organisation? Are there people who understand policy a bit more? I mean, if you think about how diverse universities are, you may actually have colleagues in political science departments working on the institutional setups for science advice and you might not even know that they are also doing this as their as their research work. So it's really about thinking how to bring people together in this endeavour.

Toby: Okay, one more thing before we go. In the handbook, you talk a lot about the need to move towards science for policy 2.0. But at the same time, you also suggest here and there that this still might not be enough. I think, at one point, you make a rather enigmatic reference to science for policy 3.0 in the future. So, what's your thinking there? What more do you think needs to change?

Vladimír: What we started, but we scratched only the surface, is engagement. I think that this is understanding the values and engaging the people in the policy-making, in the science, in the evidence. I think that if we think a bit ahead, if you think about climate change and different measures which need to be taken in this respect, if you take the example of transport and huge changes which we need to introduce in the field of transport, you can go on the personal data, etc. So, they are very tough and difficult decisions to be made, and every politician or policymaker will postpone these decisions because they are very likely to create a negative reaction from the public, from the people, from the citizens. And I think that, and we see it, we see big changes in different social insurance retirement schemes, etc, which are popping up in individual countries across Europe but also beyond, and they are triggering, in a way, unhappiness of people. And the only way how to do it, how to be successful in this, is to involve and engage the citizens. And I think that this is extremely underdeveloped in Europe. There are some good examples, but I think that we need to understand much better this process, which is the question of science, but we need to have also courageous policymakers and politicians to engage in this kind of debate and to be able to use it as one of the instruments of policymaking. So then this is one part, and the other part, which is very much linked to it, is the values. It's understanding the values. And if we embrace this, which is extremely difficult, I think that we can move to this science for policy or policy 3.0.

Marta: Yeah, I think what is crucial for both, partly for the success of science for policy 2.0, but I would think is fundamental for any further evolution, is the question of incentives within science. And I mean professional incentives of how academic careers are structured and what counts as a meaningful output and as work that is worth investing in, because I think we have a fundamental problem of not enough credit given for the work that is done more for policy or for communities in any sort of engagement, co-creative sort of way. So, if you think about people who are outside organisations like the JRC, I mean, in the JRC, we have a slightly easier situation because we have a clear mandate that our work is done primarily for policy. But if you look at universities, people who are interested in having an impact are usually those who are simply driven by their own wish to contribute to something more than just academic community and who mostly do it in their own time as an extra activity. And I think if we really want to see more relevant knowledge be used in policymaking in meaningful ways, then we also need to understand that it has to be seen as part of the job description of an academic to some degree. Again, I'm not saying that all researchers or scientists should do that, but we should have as a community of researchers a really serious discussion on how this could evolve and how we could not waste precious knowledge because the skills that are needed to be involved in policymaking are quite different, and they're additional to the traditional skill set of scientists. And unless there are incentives, not that many people will want to take that on and really develop in those directions that could help them really have some impact.

Toby: Well, be that as it may, I'm sure that there are people listening to this, scientists and perhaps others, who found it as intriguing and as inspiring to listen to both of you talk about this topic as I have. So, of course, I will put a link to the handbook in the show notes for listeners, and I recommend it very highly. It's digestible, interesting, and well worth your time. Speaking of time, thank you very much indeed, both of you, for your time and, in general, for your efforts to improve science for policy. I'm looking forward to seeing them continue to bear fruit in the future.

Vladimír: Thank you so much.

Marta: Yeah, thank you. Thank you.

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