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Think tanks need integrity not independence

Melissa Conley Tyler wrote on the role of think tanks in an article The Drum (ABC 1.10.15).

‘As bridge institutions between academics and policy makers, the role of think tanks is to convert knowledge into practice. Where they provide input to policymakers, this requires a focus on the usability of their results. Think tanks that wish to make a difference have to connect with policymakers’ agenda and needs by providing input at the right time and in the right format; they have to have a communication plan for their ideas. A focus on policy influence necessarily detracts from pure independence; influence requires engagement and responsiveness to policymakers, to media and to civil society.’ …

‘The touchstone we should use to judge think tanks is a different “I”: integrity. Integrity in research design and analysis. Integrity in reporting and recommendations. And integrity in being transparent about their relationships with policy makers. Initiatives such as Transparify help think tanks show their integrity through embracing transparency about their funding sources.

‘In a world where perfect independence is impossible, think tanks should be judged on their transparency and integrity.’

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