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Author Archives: Alex Ademokun
I finally got around to reading the recent DFID evidence survey which I commend them for carrying out and for sharing so publicly. I read the review in two ways – the first, to get a sense of how a major development funder uses evidence. The second, to see how a well-resourced civil service department that values evidence (as demonstrated by the existence of the evidence to action team and the survey itself) deals with the challenges of research uptake. I am particularly interested in the second point because the VakaYiko consortium I manage works to strengthen evidence use in departments in more resource challenged environments and with other pressures that make research use difficult. I should also point out that VakaYiko is funded under DFID’s Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) programme. This is not a review of the report which was mainly for an internal audience but … Continue reading
Question – what exactly does an evidence-informed policy look like (and who should be able to recognise it as such)? The idea that policy should be informed by evidence and not based solely on it recognises that policy makers consider other factors beyond research when making decisions. In this model, policy makers may consider and choose to ignore research evidence in response to factors such as political expediency, timing and resource constraints. This makes it difficult to identify a policy that is actually informed by evidence when evidence is considered and rejected. In fact it is probably easier to spot one that blatantly ignores a body of knowledge rather than one that considers and chooses to respond selectively to research evidence. Two recent stories in the UK made me think about the concept of an enabling environment for evidence-informed policy making. The education secretary was recently shown to have used … Continue reading
I attended the Politics of poverty research symposium organised by PLAAS. It was a great space to discuss some of the tensions inherent in the use of evidence in policy making and explore how those tensions affect researchers (particularly social science researchers) and policy makers. Reflecting on some of the discussions from the conference a few points struck me about the role of the researcher in the policy making process which I thought would be worth sharing.
At INASP we provide small grants to support capacity building activities in many areas. In all areas including mine, the evidence informed policy making (EIPM) programme, we are very interested in if a capacity gap a) exists and b) if the proposed intervention goes some way to filling that gap. As such we provide small grants to conduct needs assessments and pilot activities.
We were recently reviewing the activities of the evidence-informed policy making team at INASP and trying to identify the success stories to see what could be learned and how our approaches could be improved. We identified four stories based around four different countries. Briefly: In Tanzania an INASP partner is developing a course in information literacy aimed at public servants studying at the Tanzania public service college. This is a comprehensive approach involving curriculum development, pedagogy training of trainers’ and content delivery. In Ghana, INASP supports the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) and Savana Signatures to deliver capacity building activities targeted at policy makers in response to local demand. The Zimbabwe Evidence-Informed Policy Network (ZEIPN) has just been formed which aims to promote interactions between multi-disciplinary researchers and policy makers to tackle challenges to evidence-informed policy making. In Uganda INASP is working with the Uganda National Council of Science … Continue reading
Since returning from a workshop on science communication for journalists I have been thinking a lot about science journalism both in the UK and abroad and wondering if science journalists need to understand the scientific process in order to write good science stories. A number of people will argue that no, you don’t need to understand science to write a good science story — after all you don’t have to be an economist to write on economics or an investment banker to write on finance. While I tend to sympathise with this position I actually disagree with it and here I will outline why.