Evidence & Policy A Journal of Research Debate and Practice

Published by Policy Press
Online ISSN: 1744-2656
Publications
Article
Transferring health care research into policy and practice is a messy and complex process which both policymakers and researchers can struggle with. A potential solution is to use individuals or organisations as knowledge brokers. Using a range of literature, this paper explains the theory behind knowledge brokering, identifies three models of brokering and explores the challenges of brokering. We suggest that clarifying these factors is a significant step towards planning well designed and rigorously evaluated brokering interventions. We also suggest that a clearly defined theoretical framework could help us to find out more about how brokering works and its effectiveness.
 
Article
Cognitive framing theories explain how individuals understand and apply information in relation to existing experiences and beliefs. Yet these theories have rarely been applied to explore the interpretation and application of evidence in policy development. This paper undertakes a critical discourse analysis of interviews and texts surrounding a highly contested United States policy for international HIV prevention. Analysis illustrates that, rather than speaking for itself, evidence is defined by framing processes, with competing interpretations found to reflect internal consistency with core beliefs about sexual behaviour. This illustrates the importance of making explicit the roles that belief systems play in shaping how evidence is used in policy development.
 
A conceptual framework of the absorption of research knowledge by civil servants  
The tested components  
Regression results  
Article
The aim of this study is to revisit the major theoretical perspectives on research utilisation by public civil servants, to propose a new conceptual framework of the absorption of research knowledge by these civil servants and to provide a first empirical testing of the proposed conceptual framework. Some of the empirical findings are particularly interesting as they seem to converge with the well-known 'bounded' aspect of rational action. For example, they show a significant association between civil servants' educational level, on the one hand, and, on the other, their propensity to communicate with academic researchers and to acquire research evidence.
 
Article
Children's Services Departments (CSDs) that are willing to host research projects are invaluable to the ongoing development of a reliable and useable evidence bank within social care. However, little attention has been paid to the costs and benefits that CSDs experience as a result of their participation. Using a mixed methods design, this small-scale exploratory study sought to examine the experiences of CSDs when hosting research by exploring issues of research governance, the benefits of participation, the costs of participation and feedback from research. While the costs of engagement, in terms of staff hours and organisational planning, were recognised to be unavoidable, they were not regarded by interviewees as significant if they were offset by real benefits. Potential benefits identified include: assisting with service development; raising the profile of research and research mindedness; and staff development. Such benefits were reported to have been achieved by closer involvement with management in the planning of projects, greater interaction with staff during the research and increasing the effectiveness of feedback strategies.
 
Factors affecting dissemination and implementation in health systems  
Article
The way we think about how research, policy and practice inform and interact with each other shapes our efforts to improve health and social outcomes. In this paper we describe linear, relationship and systems models with regard to how they approach bridging evidence and policy/practice, or turning knowledge into action. We contribute to the knowledge to action (KTA) systems thinking discussion by highlighting four interconnected aspects of this model we believe merit exploration: evidence and knowledge, leadership, networks and communications. We conclude with the challenge of developing measurement methods for systems research to better understand the KTA process.
 
Article
Several changes have posed increasing challenges for the active dissemination of research within the policy world: the evidence-based policy-making movement has led to a demand for the implications of research to be spelt out; rapid technological changes have offered new electronic methods for bringing research to the attention of policy makers, but have also created information overload; while modernisation of the policy process has led to an emphasis on outcomes and demonstrable effectiveness. This article provides a critique of three models of research dissemination; it concludes with some innovative examples and identifies key resources for planning and developing an active dissemination strategy.
 
Different roles in R&D work
Three models for research utilisation
Article
This article presents various forms of activities performed by locally based social welfare research and development (R&D) units in Sweden. The authors argue that these units are vital actors in the field of encouraging and strengthening evidence-based social work practice. They are close to social services organisations and have the ability to use flexible methods in order to bridge the gap between research and practice in a local context. The theoretical framework for the article is the organisational excellence model - an archetype for how research can be used in practice.
 
Article
A comprehensive report has been prepared on the state of public health and healthcare in the Midden-Holland region of the Netherlands. This study describes the development of the report and the mechanisms behind public health knowledge utilisation by three groups of health policy actors: local authorities, public health professionals and regional care providers. The processes are studied in various qualitative ways. The mechanisms explaining the use of the report were found to be complex and different for each group of policy actors. Interaction between researchers and users is not the only factor that explains usage, but rather serves as an intermediate factor.
 
Article
Tackling health inequalities has become a key policy objective in the UK in recent years, with inequalities in early life accorded strategic importance. The Sure Start programme has been central to this strategy. Over time, however, the early recognition given to the evidence base and the interconnected nature of social problems has given way to a more targeted approach, arguably marginalising those aspects that have been key to success. The aim of this article is to explore and explain this shift in focus and to assess the implications for the health inequalities agenda. Spanish El enfrentarse con las desigualdades de salud se ha convertido en un objetivo político clave en el Reino Unido en los últimos años, con desigualdades en una vida temprana de acordada importancia estratégica. El programa un Seguro Comienzo (Sure Start) ha sido central a esta estrategia. Con el tiempo, sin embargo, el temprano reconocimiento que se le ha dado a la base de evidencia y a la naturaleza interconectada de problemas socials ha dado lugar a un acercamiento más enfocado, manteniendo marginados esos aspectos que han sido claves para el éxito. El objetivo de este ar tículo es explorar y explicar este cambio de foco y evaluar las implicaciones para la agenda de desigualdades de salud. French Ces dernières années, au Royaume Uni, les effor ts pour maîtriser les inégalités de santé sont devenus un objectif politique clé, les inégalités dans l'enfance prenant une importance stratégique. Le programme Sure Start a joué un rôle central dans cette stratégie. Cependant, au bout d'un cer tain temps, la reconnaissance initiale accordée à la base de preuves et à la nature interconnectée des problèmes sociaux a laissé la place à une approche plus ciblée, et a sans doute marginalisé les aspects clé de son succès. Le but de cet ar ticle est d'explorer et d'expliquer ce changement de focus et d'en évaluer les implications pour le programme des inégalités de santé.
 
Article
For health policies to be effective in practice, they need to be communicated and translated at strategic and operational levels and to be integrated into clinical practice. There is little empirical evidence to understand whether this happens and, if it does, whether it does so effectively. In the present study the views of professional healthcare staff from one service field (child mental health) are explored in order to ascertain their views on the translation of policy into practice through thematic analysis. Key themes of limited awareness, lack of strategic policies and problems in linking evidence carry implications for the development and strategies of policies. The interviews demonstrate that there is limited evidence that policies are being communicated as effectively as they could be, and we make recommendations on how these could be translated and implemented more effectively in the future.
 
Assessing knowledge-related facilitators of adoption
Article
The rate of adoption of new technologies into healthcare systems is considered to be slower than in other settings. A range of knowledge-based facilitators of adoption exist, including: technology specification and assessment; dissemination tools (including electronic decision support tools); networks and facilitated interaction; and skills and leadership development. A review of the evidence relating to each of these is reported in this paper. The authors identify the absence of a single knowledge-related 'magic bullet' before proposing an analytical framework for the future assessment of knowledge-based interventions and their impact on technology adoption.
 
Frequency of documents by source
Pie chart of the relative proportion of each document source 
Analysis of E-learning impacts by source of evidence
Article
In this article we explore issues in developing an Argument Catalogue as a tool to compile evidence systematically on a topic of interest. A recent review is used to illustrate the steps in undertaking the development of an Argument Catalogue from multiple sources. An Argument Catalogue codebook. which provides categories and values that can be applied in order to classify conjectures, opinions, concerns and expert judgements, is also developed. Arguments are then compared and contrasted in two different ways: by quantifying the predictor and outcome variables described and by summarising qualitatively the major messages in each document.
 
Article
The value of research to society depends not only on its intrinsic quality but also on topic selection. Because it is difficult to assess objectively the value of topic selection, research funders develop transparent processes for research needs assessment and prioritisation. In this paper, these processes are analysed for one publicly funded research commissioner in England, paying attention to the positioning of the programme within national institutions and with discussion of some historical antecedents. The dynamics between interest groups with a stake in the programme are identified. Different strategies for balancing stakeholder interests are described and their relative merits discussed. The conclusion is that no one strategy can be effective in isolation and a mixed approach is needed.
 
Article
Policy-oriented research (POR) represents an increasing share of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR's) portfolio. A literature inventory finds 24 studies of the diffusion, influence or impact of this research, of which only three assess impact. There are many influences behind policy formulation, through which research insights permeate, if influential. Hence, attribution and counterfactual difficulties have led many assessments to focus only on analysis of the processes of creating policy influence, rather than also assessing impacts from resulting policy changes. To satisfy CGIAR investor expectations for documented impacts, approaches are proposed for 'demand-led' and 'supply-led' POR case studies.
 
Article
In recent years, a diversity of critical paradigms of evaluation research have been proposed, developed and implemented by both academic and professional evaluators. At the heart of this 'Kuhnian revolution' lies a questioning of the ontological, epistemological and methodological premises of quasi-experimental designs, and a commitment to insert 'theory' into evaluative research of the kind which underpins and informs evidence-based practice. This article adds to the growing number of case studies which not only challenge the hegemony of positivistic perspectives, but which demonstrate the merits of a sociologically informed approach to evaluation research. Two possible routes to evaluating the Prosecution and Diversion Policy of a southern police force area in the UK are outlined and discussed - one informed by positivistic evaluation; the other by structurationist principles. In the light of the evidence of policy ineffectiveness, the positivistic model has little to offer by way of explanation. By contrast, the theory-driven, structurationist approach provides rich insights into the socio-cultural, legal and organisational relations of 'policy-failure', and furnishes a radically different interpretation of discretionary decision-making processes. Spanish En años recientes se han propuesto, desarrollado e implementado una diversidad de paradigmas críticos de investigación de evaluación por par te de evaluadores académicos y profesionales. En el corazón de esta revolución Kuhniana se encuentran preguntas acerca de las premisas ontológicas, epistemológicas y metodológicas de diseños experimentales cuasi, y una obligación para insertar la teoría en una investigación de evaluación de la que sustenta e informa la práctica basada en la evidencia. Este ar tículo se une al número creciente de casos de estudios que no sólo desafían la hegemonía de perspectivas positivas, sino que demuestran los méritos de un acercamiento informado a nivel social de la investigación de evaluación. Se resume y discuten dos posibles rutas para evaluar la Prosecución y Política de Diversión de un área en el cuerpo de policía del sur en el Reino Unido - una ruta informada por la evaluación positiva, la otra por los principios estructuralistas. A luz de la evidencia de la ineficacia de la política, el modelo positivista no tiene mucho que ofrecer a través de la explicación. Por el contrario, el acercamiento estructuralista conducido por la teoría ofrece una mejor comprensión de las relaciones organizativas, legales y socio-culturales del fracaso político, y proporciona una radical interpretación diferente de los procesos discrecionales de la elaboración de la política a seguir. French Lors des dernières années, une diversité de paradigmes critiques en matière de recherche d'évaluation a été proposée, développée et mise en œuvre par des évaluateurs académiques et professionnels. Cette «révolution kuhnienne» questionne principalement les principes ontologiques, épistémologiques et méthodologiques des conceptions quasi expérimentales et souhaite insérer la «théorie» dans la recherche d'évaluation de ce type, qui étaye et informe la pratique basée sur les preuves. Cet article s'ajoute au nombre grandissant d'études de cas, qui non seulement conteste l'hégémonie des perspectives positivistes, mais qui démontre les mérites d'une approche sociologique de la recherche d'évaluation. Deux voies possibles d'évaluation des Politiques de répression et de diversion d'une zone de police dans le sud du Royaume-Uni sont définies et examinées - une fondée sur l'évaluation positiviste, l'autre sur les principes structurationnistes. À la lumière des preuves d'inefficacité de la politique, le modèle positiviste n'offre qu'une explication minime. Au contraire, l'approche structurationniste, basée sur la théorie, donne des aperçus importants des relations socio-culturelles, légales et organisationnelles de l'«échec de la politique» et propose une interprétation radicalement différente des processus de prise de décision discrétionnaire.
 
Percentage distribution for the correlates considered in the study  
Percentage distribution for the three outcome variables across policy sectors (monthly and weekly consultation combined)  
Article
This large cross-sectional survey of policy analysts working in Quebec ministries (Canada) shows that direct interactions with academic researchers are among the most significant correlates of the consultation of scientific articles, academic research reports and academic books/chapters, but by very little compared to other correlates such as reported access to electronic bibliographic databases, training type, continuing professional development and perceived relevance of research evidence. Many correlates were found to have similar predictive power and, taken individually, all correlates have somewhat low predictive power. Interestingly, statistical simulations show that to achieve a larger predictive power, significant correlates must be manipulated simultaneously. Large variations were observed across policy sectors.
 
Article
This paper examines the role of guidance for practitioners in the evidence-policy-practice relationship through a critical reflection of the process of developing evidence-informed guidance for housing practitioners working in the area of antisocial behaviour in Scotland. The paper applies theoretical models for the use of evidence in policy and practice to the process of designing guidance; to assessing its impact; and to the potential for practice to (re-)influence the policy process. The analysis identifies challenges and lessons in terms of the blurring of professional boundaries; scope for increased rigour in practice guidance; the need for mechanisms to monitor the impact of guidance; and the need to incorporate the influence of practice more explicitly in analysis of the policy process. Adopting a more dynamic, systems approach to using evidence could enhance the effectiveness of the process.
 
Article
This article reports on a study that explored the views of 61 medical education stakeholders about the teaching and learning of cultural diversity in UK medical schools.While a majority of the respondents were familiar with Tomorrow's doctors, there is little evidence to suggest that it influenced the development of cultural diversity in medical schools or that the GMC's intentions have been implemented in any meaningful way. We conclude that there are gaps at each of three levels of policy that have led to a lack of coherence in the development and deli,very of cultural diversity teaching in the UK.
 
Article
This article examines the place of qualitative research within systematic reviews as evidence for policy, discusses the critical appraisal process as applied to qualitative research, and gives illustrative examples of sound qualitative studies from the health policy field. A checklist is a useful tool for the quality evaluation of qualitative research, facilitating comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of different studies, and should stimulate debate between reviewers as part of the broader critical appraisal process. Critical appraisal must be central to research syntheses, thus enabling reviewers to make only good-quality qualitative evidence accessible for policy makers and practitioners.
 
Article
This article explores evidence utilisation in a politicised policy area. Using recent debates in UK drug classification as a case study, it suggests that the relationship between evidence in policy in such areas is frequently conceived in linear terms, where policies are ultimately either evidence-based or evidence-free. Such perspectives, however, restrict the role of evidence to policy outcomes. Drawing on ideas from political science and elsewhere, a more nuanced role of evidence is advocated, which locates utilisation in the process of policy making. This moves beyond zero-sum conceptualisations hitherto highlighted that are, it is claimed, premised on a paradoxical logic.
 
Article
While many of the drivers for evidence-based policy and practice are UK wide, there are some distinctive features of the policy and practice contexts in Scotland that have shaped the way in which evidence-based implementation is being forged. Within the field of health improvement policy and practice in Scotland, this paper focuses on what Nutley (2003) refers to as one of the prerequisites of evidence based policy and practice - the development of collaborative mechanisms for bringing closer together those working across research, policy and practice. The first part of the article looks at research-policy-practice collaborations in the development and evaluation of two public health interventions: needle exchanges and teacher-delivered sex education in secondary schools. The second part of the article considers the development of professional roles that are intended to facilitate cross-boundary linkage and exchange between research, policy and practice. Spanish Mientras muchos de los conductores de la política basada en pruebas y práctica están extendidas en el Reino Unido, hay algunas características distintivas de los contextos de política y práctica en Escocia que han dado forma a la manera en la que la implementación basada en pruebas está siendo falsificada. Dentro del campo de la política de la mejora de la salud y práctica en Escocia, este documento se enfoca en lo que Nutley (2003) se refiere como a uno de los prerrequisitos de política basada en pruebas y práctica - el desarrollo de mecanismos de colaboración para reunir más a esos que trabajan a través de la investigación, política y práctica. La primera parte del documento mira el colaboracionismo de investigación-política-práctica en el desarrollo y evaluación de dos intervenciones de la salud pública: intercambio de jeringuillas y educación sexual dada por los profesores en escuelas de la secundaria. La segunda parte del documento considera el desarrollo de los papeles profesionales que tienen como intención el facilitar la conexión en el cruce de límites y el intercambio entre investigación, política y práctica. French Si la plupart des motivations pour la politique et la pratique basée sur les preuves existent dans tout le Royaume Uni, en Ecosse les contextes de politique et pratique ont des aspects particuliers qui ont modelé la mise en application basée sur les preuves. En ce qui concerne la politique et la pratique d'amélioration de la santé en Ecosse, cet article se concentre sur ce que Nutley (2003) appelle l'une des conditions de la politique et de la pratique basées sur les preuves, c'est à dire le développement de mécanismes de collaboration pour établir des liens plus étroits entre ceux qui travaillent à la fois pour la recherche, la politique et la pratique. La première partie de l'article étudie la collaboration entre la recherche, la politique et la pratique dans le développement et l'évaluation de deux interventions de la santé publique: l'échange de seringues usagées et l'éducation sexuelle dispensée par les professeurs dans l'enseignement secondaire. La deuxième partie de l'article étudie le développement des rôles professionnels qui ont pour mission de faciliter la liaison trans-frontières et l'échange entre la recherche, la politique et la pratique.
 
Article
This article discusses the theoretical context of the measurement of research impact within thinking on research dissemination and utilisation. Then, using their experience in a university-based research centre in Ireland, the authors discuss six propositions for successful research impact measurement and illustrate their application in a case study of research on services for people with learning disabilities. The article concludes by examining the implications for research centres in building partnerships with policy and practice communities.
 
Article
This article addresses the synthesis and use of research evidence to inform policy and practice. Reviews of the evidence base in many fields have formed a crucial bridge between research, policy making and practice. Systematic review, in conjunction with meta-analysis, has become an established methodology for locating, selecting, appraising and quantitatively synthesising research evidence according to an explicit and reproducible methodology. However, the 'standard' systematic review template associated with the Cochrane Collaboration is often criticised for its perceived inability to cope with variation in study design, nature of evidence and study context. We present five approaches to research synthesis, conducted in different fields, using contrasting methodologies. A number of methodological, practical and strategic implications of conducting research syntheses are explored. The article aims to stimulate debate about what counts as good-quality synthesis, and to demonstrate the growing diversity in its practice. In so doing, the article offers researchers and commissioners a range of approaches to producing reviews of the evidence base. Spanish Este artículo aborda la síntesis de evidencia de investigación para informar la política y práctica. El análisis sistemático se ha convertido en una metodología establecida para localizar, seleccionar, apreciar y sintetizar cuantitativamente evidencia de investigación según una metodología explícita y reproducible. Sin embargo, se critica con frecuencia la plantilla "estándar" de análisis sistemático asociado con la Colaboración Cochrane a causa de su percibida inhabilidad para afrontarse con variación en el diseño de estudio, la naturaleza de la evidencia y el contexto de estudio. Presentamos cinco enfoques en la síntesis de investigación, conducida en diferentes campos, usando metodologías opuestas para estimular el debate acerca de lo que cuenta como buena síntesis de buena calidad, y para demostrar la creciente diversidad en su práctica. Haciendo esto, el artículo ofrece a los investigadores y comisarios una variedad de enfoques para producir análisis de la evidencia base. French Cet article étudie la synthèse des preuves fournies par la recherche pour guider la politique et la pratique. Les revues systématiques sont devenues une méthodologie bien établie pour repérer, sélectionner, évaluer et faire une synthèse quantitative des preuves de la recherche selon une méthodologie explicite et reproductible. Cependant le modèle « standard » de revue systématique associé avec la Collaboration Cochrane est fréquemment critiqué car il est perçu comme étant incapable de faire face à des variations dans la conception de l'étude, la nature des preuves et le contexte de l'étude. Nous présentons cinq approches de la synthèse de recherche menée dans différents domaines en utilisant des méthodologies contrastantes pour stimuler le débat sur ce qui est considéré comme une bonne synthèse de qualité et pour démontrer la diversité croissante dans sa pratique.
 
Article
This paper evaluates current approaches to incorporating economic perspectives and evidence into systematic reviews, using 31 of the 33 reviews completed under the editorial control of The Campbell Collaboration. Of these, 74% incorporated economic perspectives, and 26% attempted to incorporate economic evidence by collecting and summarising data on resource use, costs and/or cost-effectiveness from primary studies. We conclude that while most Campbell reviews incorporate an economic dimension that is of potential utility to end users, the scope and quality of current approaches is limited.
 
Article
This article examines aspects of the debate in British education about the role that research evidence can play in policy making and practice, stressing the wide spectrum of views held by different stakeholders including researchers, policy makers, institutional leaders and practitioners. Responses to the evidence agenda have come from central government, the research community and professional bodies, and include the establishment of the National Educational Research Forum (NERF) to oversee the development of a coherent strategy for educational research. NERF's activities since its establishment in 1999 are reviewed, and continuing barriers to strategic reform are discussed. The article concludes with some personal reflections on the way forward. Spanish Este articulo examina los aspectos del debate de la educación británica acerca del papel que la evidencia de investigación puede jugar en la elaboración política y práctica, prestando atención al amplio espectro de opiniones sostenidas por los diferentes interesados incluyendo investigadores, diseñadores políticos, líderes institucionales y practicantes. Las respuestas de la agencia de evidencia vienen del gobierno central, de la investigación de la comunidad y de cuerpos profesionales, e incluyen la creación del Foro de Investigación de Educación Nacional (NERF) para supervisar el desarrollo de una estrategia coherente para la investigación educacional. Se revisan las actividades del NERF desde su creación en 1999, y se siguen discutiendo las barreras a la reforma estratégica. El artículo concluye con algunas reflexiones personales hacia el futuro. French Cet article examine certains aspects du débat au sein de l'enseignement britannique sur le rôle que peuvent jouer en recherche les preuves dans les décisions et la pratique, tout en mettant l'accent sur le large éventail d'opinions qu'ont différentes par ties prenantes, y compris les chercheurs, les décideurs, les leaders institutionnels et des praticiens. Les réponses à la question des preuves proviennent du gouvernement central, de la communauté des chercheurs et des organisations professionnelles, et comprennent la formation du National Educational Research Forum (NERF) (forum national sur la recherche sur l'enseignement) et supervisent le développement d'une stratégie cohérente pour la recherche dans l'enseignement. Les activités du NERF depuis sa formation en 1999 sont passées en revue et les obstacles constants à la réforme stratégique sont étudiés. L'article propose en conclusion quelques réflexions personnelles sur la façon de progresser.
 
Article
This article summarises the results of a review of the impact of research funded by the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Research and Development (SDO) Programme. The review draws primarily on the HERG Payback model, and the outputs and outcomes of SDO research are summarised in each of the five Payback domains: service delivery, policy, practice, research and capacity building. The article also discusses conceptual and methodological problems in identifying and attributing research impact that have been raised by the SDO impact review.
 
Article
While a broad consensus has emerged around the need for a balanced approach to impact assessment, there is continuing debate on the appropriate methodology and tools. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the case for using economic valuation techniques in order to integrate the different dimensions of sustainable development and provide an improved methodology for assessing the sustainable development impacts of policy interventions. We explore this issue in the context of the approach used in the European Commission for assessing the potential contribution of the Commission's policy interventions to Europe's sustainable development strategy.
 
Article
Understanding the 'evidence' for policy is complicated. This article examines the relationship between evidence and policies on early childhood interventions in two states of Australia, revealing powerful insights into what constitutes the evidence for policy and the importance of 'killer facts' to decision makers. The nature of evidence in the policy environment is broad and complex, going well beyond research to incorporate policy context and processes. These findings reinforce an evidence-informed approach to health policy making and the need for researchers to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the policy context.
 
Research resources currently available
Research areas in which staff felt that they had little or no skill
Article
This article reports on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between a local authority and a university, the aim of which is to encourage a culture of evidence-informed practice and continual improvement across the local authority's Family Services Directorate as part of its performance management framework and to ensure that the Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care (DH, 2001) is fully implemented. The article describes the successful completion of some of the key stages of the project, including developing and implementing an improvement strategy aimed at increasing levels of engagement with research and evidence-informed approaches to practice.
 
Article
This article reflects on power in contract research relationships. Distinguishing between the overt forms of control and the more subtle aspects of control associated with the 'enculturing' of the researcher, it considers the ways in which power affects their ability to relate to professional practice. The discussion draws on the experience of one researcher working within a local schools service. It concludes that the 'theory-and-practice conundrum' in research is often the result, not of 'ivory tower' limitations of the researcher, but rather of reluctance on the part of senior service managers to allow critical reflection among service professionals.
 
Article
Communication is an integral part of policy research, yet the impact of the communications process is difficult to monitor and evaluate. This paper reflects on one possible approach to monitoring communications, taking as its starting point 'systems awareness', or the awareness that communication efforts are situated within organisational, informational, social and political systems. Possible elements of a monitoring mechanism that takes these systems into account are proposed, and a brief example from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is included.
 
Article
This article argues that the development of systematic review methods for social policy and practice in the UK has been inhibited in two ways. First, there has been insufficient engagement with the breadth of Donald Campbell's thought on research methods and knowledge cumulation. To this end, the article outlines the contribution that a fuller understanding of Donald Campbell's work could make to the development of such methods. Second, debates about the merits of systematic review methods have often shown only a partial understanding of other approaches. The article thus seeks to identify key areas of commonality and difference between approaches to systematic reviews with a view to stimulating methodological development through constructive debate.
 
Article
We investigated researchers' experiences of, and views on, interacting with policy makers, using children's mental health as an example. Qualitative methods were used to interview university researchers, policy researchers, and research funders. Participants spoke of contributions to policy that went beyond interaction with policy makers. We describe how participants became motivated, developed approaches, and created new environments to contribute to policy. Our findings suggest that university researchers should challenge their peers to better recognise and support policy interaction and public engagement. Both university and policy researchers must balance academic rigour and policy relevance to make meaningful contributions to policy.
 
Article
This article first applies the yardstick developed by Bruno Latour for studying the ontological approaches used in the social studies of science to three mainstream approaches to effectiveness research in the social sphere: positivism, social constructivism and realistic evaluation. An alternative to the dualistic ontology of effectiveness research is then developed. The relational approach sees the world as materially heterogeneous networks and relations (socio-material, socio-technical) that are continually performed and (re)constituted by human and non-human elements. A brief hypothetical illustration of how this ontological standpoint might be reflected in the practice of effectiveness research is then presented. Spanish Este artículo primero emplea el criterio desarrollado por Bruno Latour para estudiar los enfoques ontológicos usados en los estudios sociales de ciencia en tres enfoques dominantes de investigación eficaz en la esfera social: positivismo, construcción social y evaluación realista. Se desarrolla una alternativa a la ontología dualista de investigación eficaz. El enfoque relacional ve el mundo como redes materialmente heterogéneas y relaciones (socio-material, socio técnica) que están continuamente desempeñadas y (re)constituidas por elementos humanos y no humanos. Se presenta una ilustración hipotética de cómo este punto de vista ontológico se puede reflejar en la práctica de investigación eficaz. French Cet article applique d'abord le point de référence de Bruno Latour pour étudier les approches ontologiques utilisées dans les études sociales de la science à trois approches dominantes de la recherche sur l'efficacité dans la sphère sociale : le positivisme, le constructivisme social et l'évaluation réaliste. On développe ensuite une alternative à l'ontologie dualiste de la recherche de l'efficacité. L'approche relationnelle voit le monde comme des réseaux matériellement hétérogènes et des relations (socio-matérielles, socio-techniques) qui sont continuellement effectuées et (re)constituées par des éléments humains et non-humains. On présente ensuite une brève illustration hypothétique de la façon dont ce point de vue ontologique peut être reflété dans la pratique de l'efficacité.
 
The process of systematic mapping  
Article
Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) aims to improve the experience of service users and practitioners by developing and promoting good practice in the social care sector by commissioning and disseminating knowledge-based practice guidance. This article focuses on SCIE's development of the role of systematic mapping in social care in the UK. It describes the processes of mapping, with an introduction to the role of systematic mapping in delivering an evidence base for social care. Finally, it identifies some of the issues experienced and lessons learned from piloting systematic mapping in two separate social care topics at SCIE.
 
Article
The International Campbell Collaboration (C2) prepares, maintains and disseminates high-quality systematic reviews in the social, behavioural and educational sciences. As part of its effort to ensure that systematic reviews are based on a set of systematic, transparent and replicable procedures, C2 has produced a set of policy briefs. One of these, the , proposes policies for searching the literature for C2 reviews, addresses key issues and challenges faced by C2 reviewers, and recommends working with an information specialist (IS). This article illustrates how the information retrieval issues raised in the brief have been addressed by one C2 review team, through the inclusion of an IS as an integral member of its review team. This unique approach recognises that information retrieval is a continuous and important process, requiring the ongoing expertise of a professional. Cost implications for the provision of ongoing support by an IS are briefly addressed, along with various alternative approaches. Spanish La colaboración internacional Campbell (C2) prepara, mantiene y disemina evaluaciones sistemáticas de alta calidad en las ciencias sociales, de comportamiento y educación. Como parte del esfuerzo para asegurar que las evaluaciones sistemáticas están basadas en una serie de procedimientos sistemáticos, transparentes y replicables, C2 ha producido una serie de escritos políticos. Uno de estos escritos políticos, el Escrito Político de Recuperación de Información C2, propone políticas para investigar la información para los análisis C2, aborda asuntos claves y desafíos a los que los críticos de C2 se enfrentan, y recomienda el trabajar con un especialista de información (IS). Este artículo ilustra cómo los asuntos de recuperación de información surgidos en el escrito han sido dirigidos por un equipo de revisión de C2, a través de la inclusión de un IS como un miembro integral de su equipo de revisión. Este único acercamiento reconoce que la información de recuperación es un proceso continuo e importante, requiriendo la continua experiencia de un profesional. Se tratan brevemente las implicaciones del coste para la provisión del continuo apoyo por un IS, junto con varios acercamientos alternativos. French L 'International Campbell Collaboration' (C2) prépare, entretient et distribue des revues systématiques de haute qualité en sciences sociales, sciences du comportement et de l'éducation. Une partie des efforts que fait C2 pour s'assurer que les revues systématiques sont basées sur un ensemble de procédures systématiques, transparentes et répliquables, est constituée par une série de monographies de politiques. L'une d'elles, la "C2 Information Retrieval Policy Brief", propose des politiques pour compiler les publications afin de les passer en revue, aborde les problèmes clé et les défis qui se posent aux réviseurs C2, et recommande de travailler avec un 'information specialist' (IS). Cet article montre comment les problèmes de repérage de l'information soulevé dans la monographie ont été abordés par une des équipes de repérage C2, en incorporant un IS à leur équipe. Cette approche unique reconnaît que le repérage de l'information est un processus continu et important qui demande l'expertise d'un professionnel de façon permanente. L'article mentionne brièvement les coûts qu'entraînent le soutien continu d'un IS, ainsi que d'autres approches.
 
Article
Levels of breastfeeding in the UK remain low compared with other European countries. Qualitative research is a potential source of important data on women's infant feeding decisions and practices, but is currently omitted from systematic reviews in the area. We report a narrative review of qualitative studies of breastfeeding in the UK, and identify two main themes around which the literature can be organised: first, women's experiences of infant feeding and feeding decisions; second, healthcare practices and support for breastfeeding. We also reflect on the methodological issues in conducting a review of this type. Spanish Los niveles de amamantamiento en el Reino Unido permanecen bajo comparados con otros países europeos. La investigación cualitativa es una fuente potencial de datos importantes sobre las decisiones y prácticas de las mujeres en la alimentación del niño, pero actualmente está omitido de los análisis sistemáticos en la zona. Presentamos un análisis narrativo de estudios cualitativos de amamantamiento en el Reino Unido, e identificamos dos temas principales acerca del cual el estudio se puede organizar: primero, las experiencias de las mujeres en la alimentación del niño y las decisiones de alimentación; segundo, las prácticas de asistencia sanitaria y el apoyo para amamantar. También reflejamos en los temas metodológicos para conducir un análisis de este tipo. French Le niveau d'allaitement maternel au Royaume Uni reste faible par rapport aux autres pays européens. La recherche qualitative est une source potentielle de données importantes portant sur les décisions et la pratique de l'allaitement maternel, mais elle est actuellement omise dans les revues systématiques dans ce domaine. Nous rapportons une revue narrative d'études qualitatives de l'allaitement au Royaume Uni, et identifie deux thèmes principaux autour desquels les publications peuvent s'organiser: d'abord, les expériences de femmes dans l'allaitement et dans les décisions concernant l'allaitement ; deuxièmement, les pratiques et le soutien qu'offrent les soins médicaux dans l'allaitement. Nous étudions également les problèmes méthodologiques lorsqu'il s'agit de faire une revue de ce type.
 
Article
A deep philosophical divide exists between 'strictly objective' scientists, who believe that engaging in civic debates undermines objectivity, and 'citizen scientists', who believe scientists can - and at times should - help decision makers incorporate sound scientific knowledge. Here we suggest that the threat posed to scientific objectivity by the escalating politicisation of science provides a limited bridge between these competing philosophical views: a commitment to scientific objectivity requires a greater civic presence. Spanish Una profunda división filosófica existe entre los científicos de objetivo estricto, que creen que meterse en debate cívicos mina objetividad, y los científicos cívicos, que creen que los científicos pueden y, alguna que otra vez, deben ayudar a quienes toman decisiones a incorporar un conocimiento científico firme. Aquí sugerimos que la amenaza posada en la objetividad científica a través de la intensa politización de la ciencia ofrece un puente limitado entre estas opiniones filosóficas competitivas: una obligación hacia objetividad científica necesita una mayor presencia cívica. French Il existe un gouffre philosophique profond entre les scientifiques purement objectifs qui croient que, lorsqu'on s'engage dans des débats civiques, on ébranle l'objectivité, et les citoyens scientifiques qui croient que les scientifiques peuvent et parfois devraient aider les responsables à incorporer une bonne connaissance scientifique. Nous suggérons ici que la menace posée à l'objectivité scientifique par la politisation croissante de la science constitue une passerelle limitée entre ces opinions philosophiques rivales: un engagement à une objectivité scientifique exige une plus grande présence civique.
 
Article
While we know of a lot about research-policy links in rich countries, there has been very little systematic work on those in the rest of the world. This article reports on the process, findings and implications of an initiative to collect and analyse 50 summary case studies on research-policy links from developing and transition countries. The discussion is structured around a framework of three interlinked domains: context, evidence, links. The article also refers to other issues that emerge from the case studies, particularly the role of external influences and donors. Finally, it emphasises the importance of translating the findings into practical recommendations for policy makers, donors and researchers.
 
Article
A brief review of evidence is limited in time and/or scope compared to a comprehensive review. However, brief reviews are important not only in meeting the needs of policy makers and practitioners, but also in providing students and researchers with an overview of the evidence. In this paper we summarise and evaluate alternative methods for brief reviews, including: using strict inclusion criteria; reviewing only a sample of evidence and eliminating or reducing steps in the review process. We examine a sample of brief reviews and found that the majority did not meet the methodological standards of comprehensive reviews. We conclude by recommending some methodological standards for brief reviews.
 
Article
The use of evidence in health promotion has become the gold standard, and obliges rethinking how to increase the (often limited) use of evidence in public health policy. Recently calls have been made to reconceptualise science policy relations as dynamic, interactive and co-constructive practices. Building on a qualitative investigation of an information tool for the Dutch government, the authors show how the nature of evidence is closely linked to its usefulness for policy, and how a specific infrastructural organisation of science-policy interactions contributes to an effective participation and interaction between both scientists and policy makers and the translation of research findings.
 
Article
Evidence Check, a programme managed by the Sax Institute in Sydney, Australia, assists Australian policy makers to commission quality reviews of research to inform health policy decision making. The programme involves an iterative knowledge brokering process to formulate and refine the scope of and questions for the review. The knowledge brokering process is particularly important to overcome barriers that have traditionally impeded the use of evidence in policy decision making by facilitating the creation of linkages and exchange between policy and researchers. Feedback from policy makers and researchers indicates that the use of knowledge brokers has enhanced the value of reviews commissioned through Evidence Check.
 
Article
Through reflections on our own experiences, this paper explores one approach to knowledge exchange that appears to be being used increasingly in social sciences in Scottish universities: the employment of dedicated 'knowledge exchange professionals' or knowledge brokers. We argue that the ambiguity and hybridity of specialist knowledge exchange roles as they are emerging currently in university social science settings lead to challenges, although also opportunities, at different stages of knowledge exchange appointments. We discuss issues relating to recruitment; management and accountability; recognition and integration; professional support and development; and reward, promotion and career pathways.
 
Article
Much policy research is proposed, designed and funded to inform policy debates. Yet, given the value-laden nature of policy making and the limitations of social science in providing definitive answers devoid of caveats, some question the ability of research to affect policy making at all. Examining this question, this article compiles commentary from 14 individuals convened to discuss the research-to-policy connection as it actually occurs in US policy making. These 'research brokers' hold different professional roles (for example, congressional staffers, advocates), but all work at the intersection of research and policy on a daily basis, allowing them to provide first-hand accounts of research utilisation. Spanish Se propone, diseña y financia mucha investigación política para informar de los debates políticos. Aunque, dada la naturaleza de valor-cargado de la elaboración de la política a seguir y las limitaciones de la ciencia social en proveer respuestas definitivas desprovistas de adver tencias, algunos cuestionan la habilidad de investigación en afectar la elaboración de la política a seguir. Examinando esta cuestión, este artículo recopila los comentarios de 14 individuos convocados para discutir la conexión de investigación-a-política tal y como está ocurriendo actualmente en la elaboración política en los Estados Unidos. Estos agentes de investigación mantienen diferentes papeles profesionales (por ejemplo, personal del Congreso, partidarios, pero todos trabajan en la intersección de investigación y política diariamente, permitiéndoles que proporcionen informes directos de la utilización de la investigación. French De façon générale, la recherche en politique est proposée, conçue et financée pour informer les débats sur la politique. Et pourtant, étant donné que les décisions sont en elles-mêmes porteuses d'un jugement de valeur et étant donné les limitations des sciences sociales lorsqu'il s'agit de fournir des réponses définitives dépourvues de mises en garde, certains doutent que la recherche soit apte à influencer les décisions. En étudiant cette question, cet article constitue un dossier comprenant les commentaires de 14 personnes réunies pour discuter de la relation entre la recherche et la politique telle qu'elle s'effectue dans la réalité en ce qui concerne les décisions aux USA. Ces cour tiers en recherche ont différents rôles professionnels (par exemple, employés au Congrès, avocats), mais travaillent tous quotidiennement à l'intersection de la recherche et de la politique, ce qui leur permet de donner des impressions de première main sur l'utilisation de la recherche.
 
Article
This article provides an analysis of a cross-section of 31 evaluations in one policy field in one country during a period of two years. It offers a national profile of an evaluation effort in law enforcement and demonstrates that this cross-section diverges widely from the typical interventions evaluated under the auspices of the Campbell Collaboration. The article elaborates on an alternative methodology for assessing such evaluation studies: mapping interventions and theory-driven'browsing' for evidence. It shows that most interventions are not directly aimed at individuals or clients, who may be treated in different ways, but at institutional actors, organisations or the entire law enforcement chain. Three intervention strategies are described and assessed: developing and implementing 'new projects'; streamlining the law enforcement chain; and developing and implementing new (or amended) laws and regulations. Many working mechanisms underlying these strategies refer to behaviour inside bureaucracy, which goes beyond mere 'implementation'. The article demonstrates that the alternative methodology is quite 'practical' for synthesising evaluation research on such interventions.
 
Article
This article uses a case study approach based on documents provided by the Department for Transport's executive Highways Agency, information in the public domain and interviews of key players associated with a 'successful' project to examine the nature of evidence-based policy Few evaluations exist of whether public-private partnerships achieve their objectives and the study focuses on those objectives that specifically relate to the policy of using private finance: risk transfer; building to time and budget: and innovation. We conclude that 'success' is determined at a micro level on the basis of technical achievement but that broader social and financial objectives on which the policy is based have not been assessed.
 
Article
Universities seek to maximise the impact of their research by investing in technology commercialisation services but universities fail to support the various impacts of non-commercial research. This paper describes the experience of York University (Toronto, Canada) in developing the institutional capacity to support knowledge mobilisation to maximise the impacts of research from the social sciences and humanities. York works in partnership with local research users to provide enhanced access to research through dedicated support for research collaborations. Grounded in theories of knowledge transfer and exchange, and illustrated with examples, this paper demonstrates how investments in knowledge mobilisation create value for the institution, researchers, graduate students and research partners.
 
Range of initiatives used to tackle bullying  
Searching and screening for studies 
continued 
Article
The aim of the systematic review (SR) reported in this article was to compare how UK secondary school pupils and teachers define bullying, using the analytical framework proposed by Naylor et al (2006). Findings were drawn from five major studies - two quantitative, two qualitative and one using mixed methods - and suggest that teachers are much more likely than pupils to employ broader definitions and to include indirect forms of bullying. Possible additions to Naylor et al's framework are highlighted. The SR encompassed views from 3,283 pupils and 225 teachers, and a number of modest implications for policy and practice are identified.
 
Article
This paper explores the interesting phenomenon of unintended consequences in policy making: that benefits may accrue in one domain of policy making as the result of actions in another with very difrerent interests and priorities. For example, a key randomised controlled trial of a nurse home visiting programme for young mothers identified significant long term crime reduction benefits among their children. Policy makers, in Australia and elsewhere, are currently not well equipped to recognise or capitalise on these by-products of policy making and the author offers some suggestions for improving matters.
 
Article
Governments are becoming increasingly dependent on externally produced knowledge. Their demand for knowledge has been amplified by a relatively non-ideological political climate; by the influence of international organisations sharing practice and assessing policy effectiveness; and by public opinion. Supply has grown in tandem within academia, government bodies themselves and international organisations, all hugely helped by the Web. This knowledge takes many different forms, ranging from the classic knowledge of pilots to the tacit knowledge of practitioners. How it is handled varies according to the nature of the field - some are relatively stable, closer to the natural sciences; some are fields in flux, where there is argument over even basic concepts; a third set are inherently novel, particularly those involving technology. In all areas there are unavoidable limits to the relevance and usability of knowledge, including democracy; time; the social role of ambiguity; and reflexivity. However, the shift to greater dependence on knowledge is unlikely to reverse so long as all other areas of economic and social life are changing in tandem towards greater dependence on knowledge and greater awareness of the complexities involved in any production or use of knowledge. Spanish Los Estados cada vez dependen más del conocimiento producido exteriormente. Susreivindicaciones por conocimientos se han amplificado por un relativo clima político no ideológico; por la práctica compartida de la influencia de organizaciones internacionales y la evaluación de la efectividad de la política; y por la opinión pública. La provisión ha crecido conjuntamente con academia, los propios cuerpos de gobierno y organizaciones internacionales, todas ampliamente ayudadas por la Web. Este conocimiento toma muchas formas diferentes, variando desde el conocimiento clásico de los pilotos hasta el conocimiento tácito de los médicos. Según como se lleve varía según la naturaleza del campo-algunos campos son relativamente estables, más próximos a las ciencias naturales; algunos son campos inestables, donde se discute incluso de conceptos básicos; una tercera colección son novelas inherentes, en especial aquellas relacionadas con la tecnología. En todas las áreas hay límites inevitables sobre la relevancia y utilidad de conocimiento, incluyendo la democracia; el tiempo; el papel social de ambigüedad; y la reflexión. Sin embargo, el cambio a una mayor dependencia de conocimiento es poco probable mientras todas las demás áreas de economía y vida social estén cambiando conjuntamente hacia una mayor dependencia en conocimiento y una mayor conciencia de las complejidades involucradas en cualquier producción o uso de conocimiento. French Les gouvernements comptent de plus en plus sur une connaissance provenant de l'extérieur. Leurs exigences en matière de connaissance ont augmenté à cause d'un climat politique relativement non idéologique, de l'influence des organisations internationales qui partagent la pratique et qui évaluent l'efficacité des politiques, et à cause de l'opinion publique. L'offre a grandi en tandem avec l'université, les administrations publiques elles-mêmes et les organisations internationales, et toutes ont été grandement aidées par le Web. Cette connaissance prend beaucoup de formes différentes, allant de la connaissances classique des pilotes à la connaissances tacite des praticiens. La façon dont elle est gérée varie suivant le domaine. Certains sont relativement stables, plus proches des sciences naturelles. Certains domaines sont en flux et il y a alors des discussions même sur les concepts élémentaires. Un troisième domaine est nouveau par sa nature, surtout lorsqu'il s'agit de technologie. Dans tous les domaines il existe des limites inévitables à la pertinence et l'utilisabilité de la connaissance, qui comprennent la démocratie, le temps, le rôle social de l'ambiguïté, et la réflexivité. Cependant, il est peu probable que cette tendance vers une dépendance plus grande vis-à-vis de la connaissance opère un revirement tant que tous les autres secteurs de la vie économique et sociale changeront en tandem vers une plus grande dépendance vis-à-vis de la connaissance et une meilleure sensibilisation aux complexités inhérentes là où il y a production et utilisation du connaissances.
 
Top-cited authors
Vicky Ward
  • University of Leeds
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  • Åbo Akademi University
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Annette Boaz
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