summer school writing
Updated 8.6.2023 | 23:06

Summer school of Writing Policy & Practice Relevant Research Papers: Why, What, When and How?

Thu 21.9.2023 | 09:00 - Fri 22.9.2023 | 16:00

University of Vaasa
Yliopistonranta 10
65200 Vaasa

The University of Vaasa organises a summer school for doctoral students and early career scholars about the Why, What, When and How of Policy and Practice Relevance in Research Papers. During the 2-day paper development workshop we discuss about policy and practice relevance in research papers both in theoretical and practical terms, and network with colleagues and peers at the beautiful university campus in Vaasa.

 "Writing Policy & Practice Relevant Research Papers: Why, What, When and How?"

Research environment – including journals, funders and employers – increasingly pushes researchers to think about the societal impact and relevance of their work, but it is not actually that easy to do in practice, especially if you are at an early phase of your research career. Societal relevance can mean very different things in theoretically, methodologically and empirically oriented research settings, and in some papers policy and practice relevance is easier to define than in others. Altogether, skills in framing societal relevance in one’s work become increasingly important in competitive research environment. Also, editors see this area in need of development in the future to improve the societal impact of journals and publications.

The Administrative Sciences research community at the University of Vaasa has strong expertise in societal impact of research and building societally relevant research settings and projects. Several scholars are working actively at the science-society interface, being engaged in diverse dialogues and mechanisms of policy advice at various levels of policy-making, nationally and internationally. Also, the University of Vaasa. research platform on Innovation and entrepreneurship InnoLab invests in dynamic cooperation with its external partners and in communication that is interesting and inviting to all types of audiences

  • When: September 21-22, 2023
  • Where: University of Vaasa & Wasa Innovation Center, Vaasa, Finland
  • Target group: Doctoral students and other early career scholars (e.g. postdocs). We welcome students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds as policy and practical relevance of research papers concern everyone. However, please note that the background of instructors is primarily in social sciences.
  • Instructors: Tenure track professors and other impact-oriented scholars at the University of Vaasa, and invited guests.
  • International guest speaker: Professor Brian Castellani (Sociology) from Durham University, focusing on policy evaluation for public health from a complexity perspective.
  • Costs?  Participation in the summer school is free of charge, but each participant is expected to cover his/her own travel costs.
  • How to apply: We invite interested applicants to submit a short abstract (max 250 words) to the contact person Paula Rossi ( by 4 August 2023. In your email, please also inform organizers about the phase of your doctoral studies and your discipline/subject. We notify all accepted applicants by 9 August.
  • Manuscript: Full manuscripts or, at minimum, 2000 words outlines of research papers should be submitted to the contact person by 8 September. As the event is essentially a paper development workshop, participation without a paper is not encouraged. Your paper should contain some tentative ideas about its policy and/or practical relevance (potential to inform policy decisions and/or practice), implications (useful conclusions without specifying precisely what should be done) and/or recommendations (specific proposals for action), which you can develop further based on discussions and feedback!
  • Certificate: At the end of the event, you will receive a certificate of participation in this doctoral level paper development workshop that you can use in your home institution for applying credits for your doctoral studies. Our recommendation of the workload equals 2 ECTS.


Day 1 (September 21) The “Why” of Policy & Practice Relevance

The first section of the summer school focuses on introducing today’s research environment that puts increasing emphasis on the societal impact and policy and practical relevance of scientific research. We discuss the topic from the perspective of funders, journals, universities, and individual researchers, and get to know each other and everyone’s research topics. The “What” of Policy & Practice Relevance The second section discusses about different ways to approach policy and practical relevance theoretically and methodologically in research papers, drawing from recent scientific research on the topic. The session includes a keynote presentation from our international guest instructor. The “When” of Policy & Practice Relevance The third section focuses on the different time frames to think about policy and practical relevance, which are increasingly thought about already at the problem framing phase, also due to funders’ requirements. In collaborative research processes, questions related to relevance are sparred together with policy-makers and practitioners. However, in more curiosity-driven research, relevance might also emerge from unexpected directions. There are thus different moments along research processes when relevance can be approached in different ways! In this session, we discuss about the topic also from the perspective of participants’ different research settings. Dinner & networking

Day 2 (September 22)  The “How” of Policy & Practice Relevance

The second day focuses on discussing about the framings of policy and practical relevance in each participant’s paper. Each participant presents his/her work and receives feedback from instructors and peers.


Dr. Helka Kalliomäki is an associate professor (tenure track) in regional studies at the University of Vaasa. She is an urban and regional studies scholar with broad expertise in collaborative research from multidisciplinary projects characterized by active stakeholder engagement. Her current research is related to the societal impact of research, changing science-society relations, and inclusive innovation policy. She got her PhD in human geography in 2012 from the University of Turku. After that, she developed strong expertise in societal impact activities through her research and collaborative research work in her projects in the fields of regional studies and science and innovation policy, and in her previous work roles at the Centre for Collaborative Research at the University of Turku, and at the Turku Urban Research Programme.

Brian Castellani is a Professor of Sociology, Director of the Research Methods Centre and Co-Director of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, UK. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry (Northeastern Ohio Medical University, USA), Editor of the Routledge Complexity in Social Science series, CO-I for the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus, and a Fellow of the UK National Academy of Social Sciences. Brian also runs InSPIRE, a UK policy and research consortium for mitigating the impact places have on air quality, dementia, and brain health across the life course. Brian is trained as a public health sociologist, clinical psychologist, and methodologist and takes a transdisciplinary approach to his work. His methodological focus is primarily on advancing the study of social complexity, computational modelling and mixed methods. He and his colleagues have spent the past ten years developing a new case-based, data mining approach to modelling complex social systems and social complexity, called COMPLEX-IT, which they have used to help researchers, policy evaluators, and public sector organisations address a variety of complex public health issues. For more, see Brian’s website page.

Dr. Jonathan Wistow is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Durham University, ECR Director in the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing and Co-Director in Durham Research Methods Centre. He has worked on policy-related research in the fields of health inequalities, climate change adaptation in health and social care systems, and air pollution and brain health all within the complexity frame of reference. He recently completed two books that are concerned with the interrelationship between policy, theory and practice: Social Policy, Political Economy and the Social Contract and with Luke Telford, Levelling Up the UK Economy: The need for transformative change.

Harri Jalonen is a Professor of Social and Health Management at the University of Vaasa. He has over 20 years of experience in the fields of systems and complexity sciences, knowledge management, public decision-making and service-dominant value creation. Currently, he is interested in ignorance in organizations and information resilience. He has been responsible for or involved in 20 national/international research projects (incl. Horizon2020, Academy of Finland). He has published around 100 scientific articles (incl. Public Management Review, Public Administration Review and International Journal of Public Service Management) and books or book sections (published e.g., by Routledge and Springer). In addition to communication in academic communities, he has devoted to popular science communication by publishing around 100 articles in newspapers, trade magazines and blog notes.

In addition, some other experienced researchers from the University of Vaasa and practitioner guests take part in discussion and paper development sessions.

Further information

Paula Rossi (