Data and research are fundamental to advocacy. Data-driven advocacy is what we do best at ndp | analytics. Below is an interview featuring our managing partner, Dr. Nam Pham, with CQ Roll Call's Connectivity, in partnership with Goddard Gunster, to discuss the importance of economic research to advocacy and public affairs.
CQ: Why are impact studies important for advocacy?
NP: Well-managed advocacy efforts are evidenced-based and driven by credible data and simple facts. If one cannot explain why a policy issue matters with supporting data, it is difficult to convince the audiences why the issue matters. In public policy, any decision produces economic benefits as well as costs in the short- and long-term. Data and statistics help proving the position.
CQ: How do impact studies for advocacy differ from academic studies?
NP: Advocacy studies differ in that they typically combine user-friendly text, graphs, and tables to communicate the position effectively to broader audiences including policymakers, business leaders, the media, and the public. In advocacy studies, the writing should be written in plain language and free of economic and academic jargon and mathematical equations. Our typical economic report states the issue, provides facts to support the position, and explains the meaning of the numbers that lead the conclusions in a one-minute summary, a 3-minute summary, a 15- to 20-page report, and an infographic to catch the eye of general audiences.
CQ: Where does the information come from?
NP: Our impact reports use official data, third-party commercial databases, and industry publications that are available for everyone. It is important to document the data sources so that anyone can replicate the analyses to derive the same conclusions. In some cases when data are not available, we create original datasets by interviewing, interpolating, and estimating. In those cases, we carefully describe our methodology and steps to derive the data.
CQ: What are some of the pitfalls to watch for when undertaking a research study on behalf of your customer?
NP: It’s important to ensure that the argument is supported by the existing data. Our methodologies and analytical framework are straightforward. We don’t create convoluted “black-box” economic models. If the arguments cannot be supported by the official data, the credibility of the analysis is nonexistent. Furthermore, our reports are written to be readily accessible to policymakers and their staff, the media, and the general audiences.