Call for Papers from Global Strategy Lab

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Posted on behalf of the University of Ottawa’s Global Strategy Lab (GSL)

Optimizing the Institutional Design of Scientific Advisory Committees for Quality, Salience, and Legitimacy

It is almost self-evident that scientific evidence is relevant and important for decisions about many of the most pressing policy challenges of the day. As a result, governments and other policy actors continuously seek scientific advice, and scientific advisory committees (SACs) now figure prominently. These often come with the promise of bringing scientific evidence to bear on identifying and assessing the options available to governments. New committees are constantly being created, and old ones reformed. Yet, there is only sparse and scattered knowledge about what features of these committees make them effective. This means that today’s SACs are probably not performing their function as effectively as possible and that attempts to reform existing SACs may not be as successful as might be hoped.

In response, the University of Ottawa’s Global Strategy Lab (GSL) has initiated a project that examines the relationship between the possible institutional designs of SACs and their effectiveness. Our overarching research question is what design features make SACs more effective in producing quality, relevant and legitimate advice? More information about how we think about SACs can be found in a concept note available here.

Our project will identify and assess the determinants of the effectiveness of SACs and, on this basis, develop a framework and decision-support tool to inform future design and reforms of such bodies. The overall goal is to ensure a robust ecosystem of scientific advice to help maximize the chances of high-quality scientific research informs the decisions of governments, organized interests and the general public.

As part of this project we are looking for papers that identify and assess the key determinants of the effectiveness of SACs, with emphasis on institutional, contextual and proximate determinants. In particular, we are soliciting papers addressing:

  • stakeholders’ priorities for SAC design, for example through an discrete choice experiment;
  • the implications of the contemporary backlash against science for SAC design, for example through the lens of Science and Technology Studies, sociology of science and anthropology;
  • decision-making procedures and the possible virtues of disagreement and conflict (and the potential downfall of consensus);
  • qualitative evaluations of the outputs and outcomes of previous SACs considered individually or comparatively;
  • how the nature of the problem or question should or does affect the design of the SAC;
  • rules governing the selection process of SAC members and strategies to minimize unfair discrimination; and,
  • public involvement in the work of SACs, possibly drawing citizen science.

A three-page summary of proposed papers must be submitted by November 25, 2016. Some authors of selected papers will be invited to participate in a workshop in early 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. Following this, a series of articles on SAC effectiveness will be published in Global Challenges, an international peer-reviewed open access journal.

Please submit draft papers to by November 25, 2016.