Balancing credibility, relevance and legitimacy: a critical assessment of trade-offs in science-policy interfaces

Sarkki, Simo; Niemelä, Jari; Tinch, Rob; van den Hove, Sybille; Watt, Allan; Young, Juliette. 2014 Balancing credibility, relevance and legitimacy: a critical assessment of trade-offs in science-policy interfaces. Science and Public Policy, 41 (2). 194-206.

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To foster strong connections between knowledge and policy action, science–policy interfaces, and the information they produce and exchange, need to be credible, relevant and legitimate. Though this is widely accepted, there has been less emphasis on the problem of trade-offs between these attributes, and how the trade-offs manifest themselves in practice. Based on empirical material on biodiversity-related science–policy interfaces, we identify four major potential trade-offs: first, personal time trade-off: interfacing versus doing other activities; secondly, a clarity–complexity trade-off: simple messages versus communicating uncertainty; thirdly, a speed–quality trade-off: timely outputs versus in-depth quality assessment; and finally, push–pull trade-off: supply-driven versus demand-driven research. Trade-offs are dynamic, vary through policy cycles, and evolve with changing contexts or internal dynamics between actors at the science–policy interface. We outline ways of easing the tensions inherent in trade-offs, but stress that appropriate solutions must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0302-3427
Additional Keywords: science–policy interface, trade-off, biodiversity, credibility, relevance, legitimacy
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 27 Mar 2014 11:19 +0 (UTC)

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