Evidence-Informed Policymaking Reading List | December 2017

What to Read this Month

“Estonia is the most advanced country with regard to seamless data exchange. Its State Information Agency has mapped all data owned by the national government and provides a standardized technical environment, called the X-Road platform, for secure information sharing with all users in the public and private sectors.”
Offering public services via digital platforms can help governments increase productivity and decrease spending; doing so requires a government-wide digital strategy, an IT platform shared across government departments, and rules governing the use of data accessible through the platform.

“While most purveyors are working to ensure their EBPs are effective and replicable, most are not working to expand their reach.”
This research is focused on purveyors – organizations that take on the job of spreading evidence-based programs. It identifies a lack of resources, expertise, and incentives as key barriers to the spread of evidence-based programs. Successful expansion of programs is often due to external forces such as foundation and government investments, public systems change, and field building, that help to create a demand for services.

“Despite several decades of work on evidence informed policy, the goals to improve evidence uptake and promote greater use of evidence within policy making are still elusive.”  
This paper identifies organizations, systems and infrastructure, access to and availability of evidence, and the interactions between researchers and policymakers as key determinants of evidence use. It recommends strengthening networks and relationships to more optimally inform health policy. 

“Policymakers showed great sensitivity to the approach of individuals who present research results. National or regional presenters were generally preferred over international presenters-several interviewees pointed to the importance of peer learning and the influence of regional ‘champions’ for certain issues.”
An INASP investigation found that policymakers in eastern and southern Africa prefer when HIV prevention evidence is presented in clear and brief memos or PowerPoint presentations, provided alongside a series of face-to-face interactions throughout the research process.

“So many important decisions and policies around the world are based on instinct, inertia, ideology or ignorance (four Is) rather than data or rigorous evidence.”
The second part of a three-part series describing the strong partnerships J-PAL has built with governments and policymakers in India, to advance the use of evidence in policymaking.

“The Lab’s mission is to embed the scientific method into the heart of city operations to provide decision-makers with high-quality evidence that they can use to achieve better outcomes for D.C. residents.”
A quick read on how policy labs embedded within government, like the Lab in Washington D.C., can conduct low-cost interventions that help empower policymakers to use data and evidence to improve outcomes for residents.

“We call this ‘zero-credit’ politics: a policy problem can persist because politicians are unable to claim credit from working to solve it.”
The public trusts doctors more than they do politicians, who as a result, don’t ask too many questions and focus instead on preserving their reputation. The partisan competition in the U.S. is another barrier to evidence-based medicine.
                                                                                                                        
“The obsession with the phrase: ‘bridging research and policy’ can be misleading and distracting. There are other relationships that should be strengthened if policy is ever going to be better informed.”
Lessons from the 2017 Latin American Evidence Week include: overly focusing on new innovations can disincentivize the evaluation and tweaking of older programs which may in fact work better; policymakers do not need large-scale impact evaluations on what interventions work as much as they need other forms of research on why interventions work or how to improve them; a broader definition of evidence that includes citizen input can empower vulnerable populations; and formal mechanisms and expectations for dialogue are key – between sectors, between evidence users and producers, and between program designers and implementers.

“But Oxfam’s experience shows that it’s wrong to think that emotion and evidence are opposing choices.”
Oxfam researchers are using facts that stir up emotions, combining personal stories with policy recommendations, and experimenting with other approaches that use evidence to influence attitudes and policies.

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.
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