The European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) defined a set of essential skills for researchers and policymakers active in the science-policy interface, many of which apply to the provision of science advice to foreign policy or to a multilateral organisation, and we have adapted them here for science diplomacy:
- Understanding Domestic and International Policy, Geopolitics and Global Governance. Scientists need to understand the key drivers of the policy process – domestic and international – and adapt their evidence presentation strategies to the policy context and geopolitical landscape, taking into account social, economic, trade and other factors affecting diplomatic relationships.
- Interpersonal and Cross-Cultural Skills. Being able to interact well with others – using verbal and non-verbal communication skills – across political, disciplinary, cultural and other divides is essential to building trust and solving problems and addressing conflicts.
- Synthesising Research. Effective knowledge management will provide policymakers with access to more robust and fit-for-purpose evidence. Effective researchers employ methods and tools to make better sense of the wealth of knowledge (‘secondary research’) available on a given topic.
- Managing Collaborative Expert Communities. ‘Communities’ of experts, sharing a common language or understanding, are fundamental to creating and applying knowledge to complex problems. Effective researchers develop networking and facilitation skills, through digital and physical interactions, to reduce disciplinary, geographical and policy divides.
- Communicating Scientific Knowledge. The communication of research to a non-scientific audience requires effective communication skills, using content-related tools like infographic design, succinct writing, public speaking and data visualisation tailored to the audience.
- Advising Policymakers. Effective science policy advisers go beyond simply communicating research evidence towards identifying options, helping to understand the impact of policy choices during and after implementation, and understanding that science informs but does not dictate policy.
- Engaging with Citizens & Stakeholders: Engagement with the public (individual citizens) and stakeholders (organisations) can provide a platform for citizens and social actors’ views to be combined with scientific expertise in policy contexts increasing the relevance and impact of the evidence provided.
- Monitoring & Evaluation Framework. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of research evidence on policymaking is a specific skill needed to continuously improve the impact of evidence on policymaking.