IPL support for qualifying faculty members includes (a) mentorship and advice from IPL-affiliated faculty, (b) staff support, (c) logistical assistance, (d) formal communication training, and (e) modest grants to MIT researchers. In combination, this support helps MIT researchers to develop mutually beneficial, ongoing relationships with members of the policy community that complement and enhance, rather than distract from, scholarly research.
Step 1: Applying for Support
IPL accepts proposals from all researchers who have Principal Investigator status at the Institute (faculty members, Principal Research Scientists, and Senior Research Scientists), as well as other researchers whom IPL-supported PIs wish to involve in their outreach. The initial proposal need only identify the policy relevant aspect of the PI’s research and does not need to be a fully developed outreach plan.
Support decisions are based on:
- Internal peer review of the science on which policy recommendations would be based;
- Structured conversations between the applicant, IPL-affiliated faculty, and the IPL’s Senior Policy Advisor about the scope of the proposed outreach, how the IPL might assist in outreach efforts, and the commitment that will be involved for faculty members;
- Input from MIT’s Washington Office about proposals dealing with the U.S. federal government; and
- Final selection among suitable proposals by Core and Affiliated IPL Faculty.
Step 2: Develop an Impact Plan
Once a project is selected for IPL support, the PI meets with appropriate Core and Affiliated IPL Faculty and Staff to outline an impact plan for engaging with relevant policymakers and stakeholders. The impact plan identifies what activities the PI can engage in over the course of the following year to move in the direction of their desired policy engagement as well as how the IPL can support the outreach. The goals set during the impact plan are used to evaluate the success of the project at the end of the year.
Step 3: Fund the Impact Plan
Funding is available for additional resources (e.g., travel, research assistance, editorial support, faculty time, venue cost for conferences involving faculty and government officials, and publicity) needed to implement the impact plans. Each individual grant is capped at $10,000, but there is no single formula for support and no pre-set limit on the number of projects the IPL can support for a given faculty member.
Step 4: Implement the Impact Plan
The IPL provides services and support to carry out the impact plan with a goal of minimize the time commitment of the PI. Typical services include:
- Identifying appropriate policy audiences to engage.
- Assistance with developing policy briefs, opinion pieces, press releases, public comments on federal regulation, or other accessible materials.
- Assistance in preparing talks for policy audiences, Congressional testimony, expert witness testimony in policy forums, and similar public presentations.
- Arranging individual meetings with relevant policy makers, including legislators and their staffs, Executive branch officials, and regulators.
- Meeting with policy makers to identify outstanding policy questions, in order to better guide studies that have policy implications.
- Coordinating travel and logistics related to policy outreach.
- Identifying resources to help researchers better engage with the policy community (e.g., training for communicating with policy audiences).
Step 5: Review the Impact Plan
Participating faculty members and the IPL meet once to review the engagement and determine if any additional collaboration is desirable. IPL staff continues to monitor policy impacts from the engagement and inform the faculty member. Participating faculty members are invited to share their experiences with future proposers and, if they wish, assist in reviewing their proposals.