Using research evidence: a practice guide
NESTA’s guide to using research evidence to inform decisions in policy and practice.Key Concepts addressed:
- 1-2 Anecdotes are unreliable evidence
- 1-3 Association is not the same as causation
- 2-1 Comparisons are needed to identify treatment effects
- 2-2 Comparison groups should be similar
- 2-5 People should not know which treatment they get
- 2-8 Consider all of the relevant fair comparisons
- 2-9 Reviews of fair comparisons should be systematic
- 2-13 Relative measures of effects can be misleading
- 2-11 All fair comparisons and outcomes should be reported
Research evidence can help you understand what works, where, why and for whom. It can also tell you what doesn’t work, and you can avoid repeating the failures of others by learning from
evaluations of unsuccessful programmes.
Evidence also challenges what we might think is common sense. For instance, it may sound like a good idea to increase the amount of police on the streets to reduce crime or to reduce classroom sizes – but the evidence doesn’t necessarily support this. More uniformed police patrolling the streets might make the public feel safer, but it can actually take police away from solving crimes. Despite this, the majority of political leaflets and manifestos in the 2015 UK
General Election still claimed that increasing police numbers on the street would reduce crime. Politicians ignored the evidence.
This guide was written by Jonathan Breckon, edited by Isobel Roberts and produced by Nesta’s Innovation Skills team.