Our evaluations have led to many insights about supporting evidence-informed decision-making. Here are our ‘top ten’ lessons learned:
- be clear about the goal;
- learn and use a systematic approach to analyzing priority issues;
- look for the right types of research evidence;
- look in the right places for research evidence;
- package the best available evidence in the right format and on the right timeline;
- use research evidence as the jumping-off point for citizen deliberations;
- use research evidence and citizen values as the jumping-off point for stakeholder deliberations;
- use the resulting story – evidence, values and insights – to drive change;
- make it the norm to use these types of inputs to drive change; and
- evaluate innovations in points 5-9 and make adjustments as needed.
In regards to lesson 1, here’s our preferred definition: evidence-informed decision-making means using the best available (data and) research evidence – systematically and transparently and in the time available – in each of: 1) prioritizing problems and understanding their causes (agenda setting); 2) deciding which option to pursue (policy or program development); 3) ensuring that the chosen option makes an optimal impact at acceptable cost (policy or program implementation); and 4) monitoring implementation and evaluating impact – alongside the institutional constraints, interest-group pressure, citizen values and other sources of ideas that influence the decision-making process. It’s long, but it covers all the bases.
For lessons 2-5, we’ve provided many key points on this summary sheet. For lesson 5, read more about our rapid syntheses, evidence briefs and citizen briefs. For lessons 6 and 7, read more about our citizen panels and stakeholder dialogues. And for lesson 9, read more about institutionalizing evidence-informed decision-making.