Basing policy and practice on sound evidence
Current interest in systematic reviews and evidence-informed education and health promotion is part of a general move in the UK and elsewhere towards basing policy and professional practice on sound evidence. Systems, such as the Cochrane Collaboration and the Campbell Collaboration, have been set up to help professionals, policy makers and users base their decisions on up-to-date and reliable evidence by making the results of systematic reviews accessible. The two collaborations develop systems and methods in health care interventions (Cochrane Collaboration) and education and social care, employment and crime and justice (Campbell Collaboration). For more information see our page History of Systematic Reviews.
Types of evidence that inform policy and practice
Many types of evidence can inform policy and practice, including statistical, narrative and conceptual data. Studies can take the form of evaluations that determine the effectiveness of interventions or policies; studies collecting the views of people about the acceptability of a policy or intervention; people’s views on their needs or requirements; and descriptions of how or whether current policies are being implemented.
Producing reports about evidence that are usable and reliable
Well designed and well conducted research can provide reliable information about a wide range of issues important to all those with an interest in public policy. For example, teachers, students, parents and those who formulate education policy may all be interested in research on education. However, studies may be too numerous or hard to locate and their results can be difficult to interpret. In addition, studies often fail to address the questions that are particularly pertinent, overlook practical problems or are poorly done. In light of this, reviews of research that carefully pull together and clearly present the findings of the best research are extremely helpful for users with limited time or research experience. More about approaches to reviews of research can be found here.