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Evidence-Based Policy
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Evidence-Based Policy
A Realist Perspective


Other Titles in:
Evaluation (General)

April 2006 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
In this important new book, Ray Pawson examines the recent spread of evidence-based policy making across the Western world. Few major public initiatives are mounted these days in the absence of a sustained attempt to evaluate them. Programmes are tried, tried and tried again and researched, researched and researched again. And yet it is often difficult to know which interventions, and which inquiries, will withstand the test of time. The evident solution, going by the name of evidence-based policy, is to take the longer view. Rather than relying on one-off studies, it is wiser to look to the 'weight of evidence'. Accordingly, it is now widely agreed the most useful data to support policy decisions will be culled from systematic reviews of all the existing research in particular policy domains.

This is the consensual starting point for Ray Pawson's latest foray into the world of evaluative research. But this is social science after all and harmony prevails only in the first chapter. Thereafter, Pawson presents a devastating critique of the dominant approach to systematic review - namely the 'meta-analytic' approach as sponsored by the Cochrane and Campbell collaborations. In its place is commended an approach that he terms 'realist synthesis'. On this vision, the real purpose of systematic review is better to understand programme theory, so that policies can be properly targeted and developed to counter an ever-changing landscape of social problems.

The book will be essential reading for all those who loved (or loathed) the arguments developed in Realistic Evaluation (Sage, 1997). It offers a complete blueprint for research synthesis, supported by detailed illustrations and worked examples from across the policy waterfront. It will be of especial interest to policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and students working in health, education, employment, social care, criminal justice, regeneration and welfare.

 
Evidence-Based Policy
The Promise of Systematic Review

 
 
Realist Methodology
The Building Blocks of Evidence

 
 
Systematic Obfuscation
A Critical Analysis of the Meta-Analytic Approach

 
 
Realist Synthesis
New Protocols For Systematic Review

 
 
Reviewing Implementation Processes
Megan's Law

 
 
Reviewing Inner Mechanisms
Youth Mentoring

 
 
Reviewing Outer Contexts
Naming and Shaming

 
 
Conclusion
Flying `The Tattered Flag of Enlightenment'

 

"This book is an excellent resource for evaluators who wish to inform policy decisions with collective insights gained from diverse threads of relevant literature...This book is timely in its emphasis on the complex, multifaceted nexus between evidence and policy."

Chris Milne
Fellow of AES

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