Whether driven by funding institutions, research organisations or the need to inject an evidence base into a growing body of migration policy worldwide, migration researchers are increasingly trying to be more policy relevant. In my work as a researcher, and, now, overseeing research on migration funded under the EU’s Horizon research framework programmes, I have seen and experienced the difficulties attached to this. Being policy relevant is a pre-requisite for researchers funded under various streams of the EU’s Horizon budge. It entails at least having a clear idea about how research work can be useful and usable to officials working in policy circles.
If the aim is to be policy relevant, a researcher needs to understand the decision-making context with which they want to relate. Researchers cannot simply ‘direct’ a grand idea toward the policy world and hope that the message arrives. Rather, it is important to understand the stakeholders; the environments in which they operate; the frames that define and give meaning to such environments; and, the trade-offs involved. I discuss each in turn before concluding with a reflection on how this impacts the practical task of writing a policy brief.