Role of Evidence in Policy Design

By |January 23rd, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Alliance for Useful Evidence1 is an open–access network that was launched in October 2011 with the aim of enhancing both the “demand for and supply of evidence for social policy and practice”. The Alliance comprises of 1,600 individuals from government agencies, universities, charities, business and local authorities in the UK and globally. What really though is the role of evidence in policy design? The key questions for policy designers include what constitutes evidence, who generates evidence, who uses it, how they use it, and how easy is it for users to understand evidence provided to them? Also, how does one ensure that users do not ‘cherry pick’ evidence to their advantage or to support policies or actions that were to be taken anyway (sometimes alluded to as ‘policy-based evidence’ when research findings are used to support premeditated policies). The Alliance organized a seminar in 2012 inviting experts to provide their insights on “What is ‘good’ evidence” (see video link here2)
Efforts towards enhancing the quality and size of the evidence base is based on the expectation that better evidence equates to ‘better policies’ and policy solutions. However in the real-world policymakers are limited by many factors including multi-stakeholder perspectives that challenge the design and adoption of policies solely based on evidence (Head, 2010)3. Evidence notwithstanding, has some limitations of its own. A recent editorial in Nature by Sutherland et al (2013)4 present “Twenty [...]