Evidence into policy

Getting started on ‘evidence-informed’ policy

By 17/01/2013

The word on the street is that ‘evidence informed’ policy is going to be big in 2013.  Debates about the use of evidence in policy stirs up a lot of discussion and debate among researchers, policy makers and practitioners; and we have already seen a shift in the language used to refer to the use of evidence in policy making from ‘evidence-based’ to the more measured (and more reflective of political reality!) evidence-informed policy making.

Research to Action spoke to Antonio Capillo, part of the evidence informed policy making team at INASP, and asked him to recommend some resources on the subject for those new to some of the debates underpinning the use of evidence in policy. Antonio kindly provided us with a selection of blogs and articles from INASP, Kirsty Evidence and SciDev.Net. If you are new to the concept of ‘evidence-informed’ policy, want to explore more, or get involved in the discussion these posts should help. Thanks Antonio!

Approximately once a year, I get into an argument with my father about the reliability of scientific evidence. My dad likes to tell me that scientists are always getting it wrong and, therefore, scientific knowledge should not be put on a pedestal above other forms of knowledge. It can certainly seem that scientists are constantly backtracking but I would argue that this is more to do with the imperfect humans (whose values and beliefs influence how they do research and how they interpret scientific findings) rather flaw in the scientific method per se [more…]

2. Is well communicated research-evidence the panacea to evidence-informed policy making? By Antonio Capillo

“How do I make my research relevant to policy?” I believe this should be an imperative question for any empirical (perhaps, also theoretical) researcher. Some researchers/scientists won’t probably agree with me, fearing that my statement implies some sort of pollution brought by the cynic political logic into the pure and linear research process. However, as a professional interested in evidence informed policy making (EIPM) and a social scientist, I believe that research and politics can find a common ground in their higher conceptions – respectively intended as a social mission and art of mediation between different interests resulting in the best possible solution for the society [more…]

3. The role of the researcher in policy making – thoughts from the recent PLAAS conferenc? By Alex Ademokun

I attended the Politics of poverty research symposium organised by PLAAS.  It was a great space to discuss some of the tensions inherent in the use of evidence in policy making and explore how those tensions affect researchers (particularly social science researchers) and policy makers.  Reflecting on some of the discussions from the conference a few points struck me about the role of the researcher in the policy making process which I thought would be worth sharing [more…]

4. Creating a ‘safe’ space to advance evidence-based policy By Scott Drimie.

The process of developing evidence-based policy is complex, and it is rare for policymakers to pick up research recommendations automatically. Many decisions are poorly informed by research-based evidence. Policymakers tend to be influenced by their own values, experience and judgement, lobbyists and pressure groups, as well as pragmatism [More…]

5. Support local governance to get research into policy By Justin O. Parkhurst

Researchers who work in developing countries are increasingly being asked by funders to demonstrate that their findings are being taken up in policy and practice. It is certainly reasonable that donor agencies want to see the impact of research they fund — they too face demands from their backers, including taxpayers and philanthropists [more…]

6. Policy influence versus evidence-informed policy By Kirsty Newman

Many donors who fund development research seek to measure the policy influence that a given research project (or a group of projects) have had. This is important and valid and the approach has yielded some interesting lessons. However, it is important to realise that this is not the same as measuring evidence-informed policy [more…]

For resources and guidance on evidence-informed policy making see the task on the task menu entitled ‘Evidence into Policy”