Invitation to Contribute to a New Blog Series

How Do We Make Research More Useful? Results for All is partnering with the Global Development Network on a new blog series that aims to capture the point of view and voice of evidence users. See here for more guidance. We welcome all contributions.

What to Read this Month

“Informing public policy will require both better research as well as better public sector incentives.”

An interesting study that highlights the important role organizational incentives play in building a culture of evidence use in government. The authors found that when public officials are given authority over decision making, they invest in more accurate beliefs about the constituents they serve, and when they work in an organization that rewards information gathering, they do more of it.

“Guidance based on best practice and success stories in particular, often reflect unequal access to policymakers, institutional support, and credibility attached to certain personal characteristics.”
The authors explain that the “how to” advice that is commonly offered to academics who seek to influence policy – ensure your research is relevant and of high quality; understand the policymaking process; build relationships with policymakers, etc. – does not address the different contexts and cultures in which policies are made. They argue that this advice helps so long as researchers also have an understanding of their wider role in society and the complexities of the policymaking process.

“We need to reframe how we think about risk in a world of abundant data.”
The author agrees that while robust regulations preventing misuse of data are critical, we also need regulations to ensure that when data can be used for the public good, it always is, and cites several compelling examples to help make this case.

In this interactive policy game, players must work out how to manage spiraling demand on health services in a fictional country.
A quick and fun game in which you, as a policymaker in the Ministry of Health, must choose between options like digitizing services, launching a communications campaign, or adopting an evidence-based policy from another country. Try it out!

 “The automatic production and refinement of data analyses allow for faster, smarter decision making – and better predictions of, and responsiveness to, events.”
In this short opinion piece, the authors explain why learning about data and programming is important for policymakers, and then offer a short, hands-on course where you can learn and try basic coding.

“Perversely then, evidence-based policy is actually preventing us from innovating and collecting any new evidence or insights about what might work.”
Making a parallel to the faulty sub-prime loans that triggered the 2008 financial crisis, the author uses what he sees as faulty and inconclusive evidence behind a U.S. prison visitation program to tell a cautionary tale about evidence-based decisions that discourage further experimentation.

What We’re Working On

In case you missed it, take a look at our recent blog post to read key insights we gleaned from our last year of work, and see what we’re up to next.