We understand very little about how research informs policy and how to improve that process, especially in highly politicised areas such as illicit drugs. One aim of DPMP is to significantly increase production of the highest quality evidence, which takes complexities and dynamic interactions into account. For this evidence to impact on Australian policy, we need to better understand how policy is made; the kinds of research that are most valued; and how research is best inserted into policy processes. Lack of appreciation of how policies are made is a major barrier to providing good decision support resources and processes.
While we do not subscribe to a naïve view that research should be the only, or even the most important, factor in policy making, we are keen to see research assume its proper role and, within that, to be maximally effective. Surprisingly, there has been relatively little examination of what ‘evidence-informed’ policy is, in drugs, public health, criminal justice or more broadly. There has also been very limited research to shine a light on the collective experience of policy making in an attempt to learn from that experience, so that we may pursue it more wisely in the future.