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Publication Date
1 June 2023

A research agenda for the science of actionable knowledge: Drawing from a review of the most misguided to the most enlightened claims in the science-policy interface literature



Linking science with action affords a prime opportunity to leverage greater societal impact from research and increase the use of evidence in decision-making. Success in these areas depends critically upon processes of producing and mobilizing knowledge, as well as supporting and making decisions. For decades, scholars have idealized and described these social processes in different ways, resulting in numerous assumptions that now variously guide engagements at the interface of science and society. We systematically catalog these assumptions based on prior research on the science-policy interface, and further distill them into a set of 26 claims. We then elicit expert perspectives (n = 16) about these claims to assess the extent to which they are accurate or merit further examination. Out of this process, we construct a research agenda to motivate future scientific research on actionable knowledge, prioritizing areas that experts identified as critical gaps in understanding of the science-society interface. The resulting agenda focuses on how to define success, support intermediaries, build trust, and evaluate the importance of consensus and its alternatives – all in the diverse contexts of science-society-decision-making interactions. We further raise questions about the centrality of knowledge in these interactions, discussing how a governance lens might be generative of efforts to support more equitable processes and outcomes. We offer these suggestions with hopes of furthering the science of actionable knowledge as a transdisciplinary area of inquiry. 

Jagannathan, Kripa, Geniffer Emmanuel, James Arnott, Katharine J. Mach, Aparna Bamzai-Dodson, Kristen Goodrich, Ryan Meyer, et al. 2023. “A Research Agenda For The Science Of Actionable Knowledge: Drawing From A Review Of The Most Misguided To The Most Enlightened Claims In The Science-Policy Interface Literature”. Environmental Science &Amp; Policy 144. Elsevier BV: 174-186. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2023.03.004.
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