Governments have a great need for policy-relevant research. The Dutch government obtains part of this research from the so-called state knowledge institutions: public research organizations that support ministries in the preparation and implementation of policy. To be able to provide reliable research, state knowledge institutions must be able to act independently and with integrity. But to be policy-relevant, they must maintain in close contact with ministries. Proper handling of this tension does not only requires ‘hard’ formal rules, procedures and codes of conduct, but also ‘soft’ informal institutions, such as awareness, dialogue, education, and culture. Implementing this is a shared responsibility of both the research organizations and the ministries.