Evidence based policy making = policy initiatives are supported by research evidence and trial basis policies are evaluated rigorously (Plewis 2000) Evidence if useful for predicting the likely effectiveness of a policy before implementation. It is also useful for evaluating the effectiveness of a policy or pilot policy and advise on how best to alter policies for maximum effectiveness. Evaluation is key for continued improvement of policies. Dunsire, 1986, said that the need for up to date accurate information that is relevant and about the actual performance of the policy is crucial in building the capacity to improve policy in the light of information. Evaluation is usually structured around 2 questions: does it work? how can we make it work best?
The paper uses interviews and questionnaires to assess the effectiveness of scientist-policy maker communications, concluding that the two groups share similar ideas regarding the best methods of communication: email, telephone and face to face meetings.However they differ in what they think of as relevant information for the policy decision, notably scientists seemed to consider a wider range of research bodies including foreign ones, whereas policy makers seemed to mainly consider domestic sources.
Issues surrouding effective use of research: Strategic use of evidence: Generally the surveys revealed that many thought scientific evidence and research was not introduced early enough in the decision making process. Research should be a stimulus for debate rather that a retrospective tool. Framing of policy questions: policy makers tend to be too narrow with their research questions and not address the long term effectively. Stakeholder engagement: policy decisions should be made with consideration and representation from the stakeholder customers, other stakeholders with an interest in the issue and researchers. This should be the case from the question framing stage. The purpose of research: When research is constrained by a specific purpose, i.e. research is commissioned in order to ultimately assist decision making, then the research should be sufficiently focused so that the desired outcomes are achieved and the research is fit for purpose.
Holmes & Clark 2008