Making Evidence Matter

A new perspective for evidence-informed policy making in education

Paperback / softback, 182 pages, 240 mm x 169 mm
15 Sep 2013
Institute of Education Press

Price: £24.99

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The arguments in favour of policy makers adopting an ‘evidence-informed' approach are well established. In practice, however, the routine use of evidence is yet to be incorporated into educational policy making, with research being used to inform decision making in ad hoc, sporadic, and inconsistent ways. Policy makers are also prone to carefully selecting the evidence they do use, with alternative arguments dismissed as unfashionable, un-robust, or ideologically unsound.

But, the work of government affects the lives of millions. If policies fail, therefore, they are likely to do so at huge cost to the taxpayer, while also resulting in inequitable, inefficient, or undesirable outcomes for large numbers of the population.

Grounded both in empirical and theoretical analysis, this book re-examines the arguments in favour of an evidence-informed approach to education policy; spotlights the factors that lead to a wide variety of evidence and perspectives being disregarded by policy makers; and sets out why a paradigm of partnership between researchers and policy makers is required in order to improve the future for policy development. It argues that policy will never be ‘evidence-informed’, nor will initiatives be truly successful in the long term, unless both researchers (as storytellers) and policy makers (as audiences) understand and play their part in the ‘evidence-informed’ process.

This book is aimed at both educational researchers and policy makers interested in enhancing the use of research outputs in policy making. While the book’s primary domain is education, the concept of evidence-informed policy making has salience across a number of sectors, notably health and social care.

  • Chris Brown

    Chris Brown is a John Adams Research Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London. With a longstanding interest in how evidence can aid decision making, Chris has worked with both UK and international governments to examine how research can better impact on policy making. Formerly a civil servant, he has held roles in government research and in policy development.

CONTENTS: Acknowledgements; Preface; About the author; Introduction; 1. An introduction to evidence-informed policy making; 2. Strategies to enable researchers to increase the impact of their work; 3. The policy development process; 4. A sociological account of knowledge adoption; 5. The post-modern social world, and changing trends in the production of knowledge; 6. The consequences of power; 7. Notions of expertise; 8. Resolving the 'evidence dilemma'; Summary; References; Index

It outlines how policy makers and researchers should interact as policy-learning communities to create deep, ongoing engagement with evidence to truly inform policy.

Professor Bette Chambers, Director, Institute for Effective Education, University of York

Through theoretical, empirical and practical perspectives, the book energetically sets a serious, timely challenge to researchers and policy makers to resolve the evidence dilemma. Its strengths include prioritising policy-ready research outcomes and challenging traditional definitions of expertise, both central to the debate around evidence informing policy.

Dr Mary Kathryn Sheard, Institute for Effective Education, University of York.