Policy researchers and policy impact
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A large industry of research organisations produce evidence that public and policy makers can use to judge the legitimacy of policies and hold government to account for policy promises. This industry consists of organisations that describe themselves as independent and non-partisan, many of which define themselves as think-tanks. Estimates of when they originated vary, but the literature agrees on at least three phases of think-tanks. Many writers suggest that a large dose of ideology, rather than evidence, drives the recommendations of think-tanks. There are many ways in which to define think-tanks - including according to type and purpose - and non-partisanship may be a misnomer. The direct influence that think-tanks make on policy and its implementation is difficult to determine, and is often described as a function of relationships, research, and the context in which the research is produced. Six key tendencies of think-tanks in South Africa are noted. The article concludes with comments about research and its value.