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.
John Anderson is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He received an M.A. in political science from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in political science from Washington State University. He has publications in several academic journals including Policy Studies Journal, Administrative Theory and Praxis, and The Social Science Journal, among others. Professor Anderson has been engaged in practical policy research in a number of settings. He has done analysis for the federal district court in Eastern Washington, a public power agency, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the cities of Kearney and Norfolk, the Mid-Nebraska Community Action Program, the Kearney Area Homeless Coalition, and local neighborhood associations.