Theory and methods in comparative drug and alcohol policy research: Response to a review of the literature

Scott Burris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Comparative drug and alcohol policy analysis (CPA) is alive and well, and the emergence of robust alternatives to strict prohibition provides exciting research opportunities. As a multidisciplinary practice, however, CPA faces several methodological challenges. This commentary builds on a recent review of CPA by Ritter et al. (2016) to argue that the practice is hampered by a hazy definition of policy that leads to confusion in the specification and measurement of the phenomena being studied. This problem is aided and abetted by the all-too-common omission of theory from the conceptualization and presentation of research. Drawing on experience from the field of public health law research, this commentary suggests a distinction between empirical and non-empirical CPA, a simple taxonomic model of CPA policy-making, mapping, implementation and evaluation studies, a narrower definition of and rationale for policy research, a clear standard for measuring policy, and an expedient approach (and renewed commitment) to using theory explicitly in a multi-disciplinary practice. Strengthening CPA is crucial for the practice to have the impact on policy that good research can.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 22 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Alcohols
Research
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Policy Making
Public Health

Keywords

  • Methodology
  • Policy research
  • Policy surveillance
  • Public health law research
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

Cite this

@article{8503cfba6bea486d8292d17a0a7f319f,
title = "Theory and methods in comparative drug and alcohol policy research: Response to a review of the literature",
abstract = "Comparative drug and alcohol policy analysis (CPA) is alive and well, and the emergence of robust alternatives to strict prohibition provides exciting research opportunities. As a multidisciplinary practice, however, CPA faces several methodological challenges. This commentary builds on a recent review of CPA by Ritter et al. (2016) to argue that the practice is hampered by a hazy definition of policy that leads to confusion in the specification and measurement of the phenomena being studied. This problem is aided and abetted by the all-too-common omission of theory from the conceptualization and presentation of research. Drawing on experience from the field of public health law research, this commentary suggests a distinction between empirical and non-empirical CPA, a simple taxonomic model of CPA policy-making, mapping, implementation and evaluation studies, a narrower definition of and rationale for policy research, a clear standard for measuring policy, and an expedient approach (and renewed commitment) to using theory explicitly in a multi-disciplinary practice. Strengthening CPA is crucial for the practice to have the impact on policy that good research can.",
keywords = "Methodology, Policy research, Policy surveillance, Public health law research, Theory",
author = "Scott Burris",
year = "2016",
month = "8",
day = "22",
doi = "10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.11.011",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "International Journal of Drug Policy",
issn = "0955-3959",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Theory and methods in comparative drug and alcohol policy research

T2 - Response to a review of the literature

AU - Burris, Scott

PY - 2016/8/22

Y1 - 2016/8/22

N2 - Comparative drug and alcohol policy analysis (CPA) is alive and well, and the emergence of robust alternatives to strict prohibition provides exciting research opportunities. As a multidisciplinary practice, however, CPA faces several methodological challenges. This commentary builds on a recent review of CPA by Ritter et al. (2016) to argue that the practice is hampered by a hazy definition of policy that leads to confusion in the specification and measurement of the phenomena being studied. This problem is aided and abetted by the all-too-common omission of theory from the conceptualization and presentation of research. Drawing on experience from the field of public health law research, this commentary suggests a distinction between empirical and non-empirical CPA, a simple taxonomic model of CPA policy-making, mapping, implementation and evaluation studies, a narrower definition of and rationale for policy research, a clear standard for measuring policy, and an expedient approach (and renewed commitment) to using theory explicitly in a multi-disciplinary practice. Strengthening CPA is crucial for the practice to have the impact on policy that good research can.

AB - Comparative drug and alcohol policy analysis (CPA) is alive and well, and the emergence of robust alternatives to strict prohibition provides exciting research opportunities. As a multidisciplinary practice, however, CPA faces several methodological challenges. This commentary builds on a recent review of CPA by Ritter et al. (2016) to argue that the practice is hampered by a hazy definition of policy that leads to confusion in the specification and measurement of the phenomena being studied. This problem is aided and abetted by the all-too-common omission of theory from the conceptualization and presentation of research. Drawing on experience from the field of public health law research, this commentary suggests a distinction between empirical and non-empirical CPA, a simple taxonomic model of CPA policy-making, mapping, implementation and evaluation studies, a narrower definition of and rationale for policy research, a clear standard for measuring policy, and an expedient approach (and renewed commitment) to using theory explicitly in a multi-disciplinary practice. Strengthening CPA is crucial for the practice to have the impact on policy that good research can.

KW - Methodology

KW - Policy research

KW - Policy surveillance

KW - Public health law research

KW - Theory

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85009399993&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85009399993&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.11.011

DO - 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.11.011

M3 - Article

C2 - 28041769

AN - SCOPUS:85009399993

JO - International Journal of Drug Policy

JF - International Journal of Drug Policy

SN - 0955-3959

ER -