This workshop provided participants with the ability to critically consume policy research by learning how to question the assumptions and assess the research design. Participants considered, for example, how the definition of a policy issue or proposed goals of a program narrows the policy analysis in ways that may ignore other legitimate conceptualizations. In addition, the methods and models used in research carry certain assumptions and limitations that need to be understood in order to assess the validity of the research results. Understanding how policy research is designed and carried out allows participants to actively engage in informed discussions of policy research as well as provide better direction to analysts hired to conduct policy research.
Lyn Kathlene is an associate professor of Political Science and the director of the Public Policy Analysis Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received an M.A. in policy analysis and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She has published articles in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, and Political Research Quarterly, among other journals. She has conducted policy research for the United Way, the Center for State Courts, as well as various cities and local non-profit agencies. She also served as a research fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kathlene is noted for the creation and implementation of citizen surveys for long-range planning processes, such as county and city comprehensive plans. In 2000-2001, she will serve as a faculty associate in the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.