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Established in 1992 as the first think tank of the country, SDPI is uniquely positioned in Pakistan’s policy research landscape. Ever since its inception, the institute has partnered with the federal and provincial governments and other key stakeholders by providing the evidence base required for decision making across a wide spectrum of development issues in Pakistan. The celebration of 20 years of SDPI’s research and advocacy contribution to policy making in 2012 triggered a stimulating debate at the institute about the overall landscape of policy research in the country, the key challenges faced by the research community, and the complex relationship between research and policy, at times involving a critical reflection upon SDPI’s own positioning in this broad context. The available analysis of the state of social sciences in Pakistan provided only partial explanation of the issues raised, since the knowledge systems for policy making are a scarcely studied area of research, globally. There was thus an obvious need to develop a systematic understanding of the field of policy research in the country. This realisation led to evolving a research programme in order to develop a body of literature on the dynamics of policy research for strengthening research institutions, and improving the policy-research interface with an ultimate goal to improve the process and quality of public policy making.
In line with the above mentioned vision, SDPI was commissioned by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to conduct a baseline study that landscapes the policy research institutions in Pakistan, and explores the political economy dynamics of research and its uptake in policies. This study has provided the basis for further inquiry around the issues that were encountered. Building on this baseline understanding, SDPI is currently in the process of designing projects in collaboration with other partners and aspires to enrich the debates on the knowledge systems for public policy making in Pakistan as well as in South Asia.
Policy Research Gateway is the web-portal aimed at the dissemination of the analysis generated under SDPI’s research projects on policy research. It is designed to serve as an interface between the institutions of policy research, policy makers, donors of policy research, individual researchers and analysts, including all other key stakeholders. This portal will host SDPI’s (and its partners’) key publications on policy research, case studies, video reports, documentaries and blogs. We also aim to make the extensive database of the institutions of policy research available on this portal in order to facilitate other researchers to generate a rigorous analysis of the key dynamics in the field of policy research.