Evidence-Informed Policy Making reading list


This EIPM reading list was first featured on the Research to Action website. I will post a series of blogs with a summary of a key reading in the upcoming months, please, do get in touch with me if you have come across something interesting that I should include in this list. Special thanks so far for those who have pointed to useful reading material . 

The Evidence-informed Policy Making (EIPM)-team at INASP was asked several times in the last few months to point out  literature that refers to the knowledge-policy interface, some calling it evidence-based policy, others evidence-informed policy making or EIPM. In the past, the ebpdn platform – a community of development professionals interested in the intersection between evidence, policy and practice, had a library with resources related to this sector.  However, it is not very up to date so we thought of contributing to its refreshment by adding top 10 readings in this area, particularly focusing on the ‘demand’ side. It was difficult to select only 10, because EIPM can be analysed from different disciplines. The below are top-ten key resources that I have gathered and thought are useful, however, it is not an exhaustive list.  These resources link to the original source and can also be found in the ebpdn library along with many more.

  1. Mexico’s M&E system: Scaling up from sectoral to the national level
    A case study on how Mexico developed a system for monitoring and evaluating programmes, starting in the social sector and scaling up to other.
  2. Walking the Tightrope: Promoting demand for evaluation evidence in South Africa
    This is an article by Ian Goldman (DPME, South Africa) and it gives some insights in the effort of institutionalising an evaluation system across government. He particularly highlights the challenge of linking supply and demand of evidence.
  3. Transforming Whitehall
    This one has been written by The Institute of Government in the UK. It’s a good case of how the civil service had to go through a process of change after 2010. By the time this paper was written (2012) there was no roadmap for leaders to follow and not much relevant literature or documented examples of how to lead major change in central government departments.
  4. Escaping capability traps through problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA), Andrews and Pritchett
    There are lots of resources written by these two authors about ‘institutional reform’ in developing countries which I find extremely useful. Their premise is that only by working around locally identified problems reforms have a chance to succeed. I am recommending this first reading as an introduction but there is a lot more on this.
  5. Context Matters
    An output under VakaYiko, written by Politics and ideas with INASP’s support. This paper systematises knowledge about how the internal institutional systems affect the use of evidence. It comes up with an analytical framework which can be used as a diagnostic tool and as an assessment tool for organisational change.
  6. Stimulating the Demand for Research Evidence: What Role for Capacity Building?
    This looks specifically at how capacity building can stimulate the demand for evidence. It is a useful read for understanding the rationale of the DFID-funded programme Building the Capacities for the Use of Research Evidence.
  7. Sound Expectations: from Impact Evaluations to Policy Change
    This paper focuses specifically on what are the factors within the ‘supply’, the ‘demand’ and their interaction that affect how impact evaluations are (or are not) used.
  8. Show your workings
    This is a tool developed by the Institute of Government to analyse what evidence has been used in specific policies, the premise is that it might be difficult to make policymakers ‘use’ evidence but at least there’s a way to scrutinise if and how evidence was used.
  9. Kenyan roundtables support cross-sectoral climate-change work
    The short case study developed under our VakaYiko programme where a think tank in Kenya, the African Centre for technological Studies, worked jointly with MPs and policymakers to inform a bill on climate change.
  10. Using Evidence, What Works?
    A thorough study carried out by the Alliance of Useful Evidence in the UK about what works, when and under what circumstances.

It is worth mentioning that to better understand how change happens in public bodies; the research community could engage more with literature from the governance sector or public reform. Also, in our work in the EIPM team at INASP we have realised that besides providing a technical approach to using evidence, it is also important to support policymakers to navigate change in the complex environments they work in. Particularly, reading number three can shed light on this aspect.  A final comment, this list does not mean to tackle ‘international development’ literature only but capture efforts to improve the knowledge-policy interface globally, that’s why readings from the UK are included.

Clara Richards
Clara leads INASP's work on Evidence-Informed Policy Making. Clara’s role is to design and implement capacity building interventions to support research use and advocates for EIPM and to build strong relationship with EIPM’s partners..

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