On the first Monday of every month, we’ll be posting a small selection from our favorite readings, each with a quote and short summary. We’ve noticed a growing body of work on the use of evidence in policy and practice, and hope you will find this compilation a useful way to follow the research, discussions, and insights.
What to Read this Month
“One of the key lessons is that we need to better understand politics and incentive structures in government organisations when promoting evidence uptake.”
A recent DFID program distinguishes three types of evidence use by policymakers: Transparent Use, Embedded Use, and Instrumental Use. See the table for definitions and examples.
These 3 Barriers Make it Hard for Policymakers to Use the Evidence that Development Researchers Produce | Michael Cahan, Asim I. Khwaja, Asad Liaqat & Emily Myers, Washington Post
“When we asked survey respondents what barriers they faced in relying on evidence to make decisions, they answered that the most serious barriers were a lack of training in both data analysis and in how to evaluate and apply research findings.”
Civil servants in Pakistan and India also reported that they did not have enough time or incentives to consult evidence before making decisions.
Evidence Complacency Hampers Conservation | William J. Sutherland & Claire F. R. Wordley, Nature Ecology & Evolution
“As well as the time, money and conservation opportunities wasted on ineffective projects, we must consider the possibility that conservation as a whole will be seen as unjustifiable if money is regularly spent poorly because of a lack of evidence use.”
Factors contributing to evidence complacency include a lack of time or training needed to consult scientific evidence, a feeling that relying on evidence reduces professional autonomy to make decisions, and a view that people are more accessible sources of information compared to scientific resources.
“At the same time, because the issues of adolescents are multiple – including education, economic, health and security, to name a few – a cross-sector approach is needed in conducting research and gathering data.”
India is home to 253 million adolescents, or 21% of the global adolescent population. Addressing the needs of such a huge population requires a huge amount of, and commitment to, data and evidence across a variety of social sectors.
Reframing Evidence Synthesis as Rhetorical Action in the Policy Making Drama| Trisha Greenhalgh & Jill Russell, Healthcare Policy
“Policy making is not a series of decision nodes into which evidence, however robust, can be ‘fed,’ but the messy unfolding of collective action, achieved mostly through dialogue, argument, influence, conflict and retrospectively made sense of through the telling of stories…”
A good reminder of the complexity, messiness and unpredictability that characterizes the policymaking process.
Creating a Policy Index for the Arts | Roland J. Kushner & Randy Cohen, Stanford Social Innovation Review
“The data that a policy index reveals are always in the past, but the impact of a policy index is in the conversations that it informs and the issues that it helps to advance in the future.”
The National Arts Index (NAI) developed by the nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts was the first of its kind and an inspiration for other index projects in the arts internationally. Lessons learned highlight the need for a targeted communications strategy to build awareness about the value of a policy index and the large amounts of time and resources required to build and maintain one.
Looking for even more? See Results for America’s 2017 #WhatWorks Reading List, featuring numerous articles on what US cities, states, and federal agencies are doing to use more evidence to get better results.
What We’re Working On
Results for All is currently working with government policymakers and partners to explore the role that a global evidence network or platform could play in helping government policymakers to address the challenges they face in advancing evidence use across policies and sectors. Reply to this email if you would like to talk to us about your ideas or how to get involved.
For the latest updates, you can follow us on Twitter here. And don’t miss Results for America’s recently released 2017 Federal Invest in What Works Index, which highlights the extent to which 8 US federal departments and agencies have built the infrastructure necessary to use evidence when making budget, policy, and management decisions.
We’ve noticed a growing body of work on the use of evidence in policy and practice. To help you follow the research, discussions, and insights, we’ll send you a small selection of our favorite readings on the first Monday of every month. The reading list will also include our own new blog posts, and highlight what we’re working on. In addition to following us on Twitter, signing up for the reading list is the best way to follow what we’re doing.
Sign up for our Monthly Reading List today here!