The Art of Translating Science for Policy-Making

As scientists, we want to see the science and data used to help create new programs and policies to better our society. But something, the data, graphs, and the significant numbers get “lost in translation.”

It’s not just about showcasing the science and then let the science speaks for itself; there is an “art” to the speaking the science that captures your audience attention.


Using the 5-stages of the Design Thinking Framework has helped me get my message across: 

  1. Empathy. Who are your stakeholders? Start with the ‘end user’s’ mind”. What are their pain points? What health issues are most important to “them” (and their loved one)?
  2. Observation. Without judgment, observe your users/consumers/communities/policymakers behavior. Are their words matching their action? What are the barriers? What are the facilitators?
  3. Iteration. By stepping into the shoes of your stakeholders and observing their behavior, how might you modify your beginning hypothesis?
  4. Experiment.  Try different interventions and get feedback from your stakeholders.
  5. Test. Test the different experiments with different stakeholders. Do you see similarities and differences in responses, call to action, or no change in behavior?

Use the science to justify your evidence. Use the art of design thinking to get your message across to make a greater impact.