Creating Demand for Use of Evidence
Adopting effective practices involves far more than knowing what works - rational policy decisions depend on both credible information and the demand to use it. In most policy debates, research evidence is only part (and sometimes a rather small part as it is presently) of what gets considered. Values, ownership, leadership and resources are also part of the equation, but well-produced, well-explained and disseminated systematic reviews are likely to increase the part played by research evidence. Our efforts to produce and help in effective dissemination of evidence is all about increasing demand for use of evidence in inclusive green growth to improve lives.
Steps for Evidence Based Practice (EBP)
There is a growing understanding within evaluation profession that we should not only produce high quality data, but also support its use – through better communication of evaluation results and building capacity of decision-makers to utilize them. Effective dissemination involves considering who might want to use your work, producing good products and ‘‘developing intimacy" with those who might be in a position to use the findings. GIDE's strategy on the onset is to engage all stakeholders involved: the researchers to better disseminate their findings; increase the demand for relevant evidence by policymakers, practitioners, donor and development agencies; and incorporate beneficiary perspectives. GIDE Management works very closely with the Board of Directors in developing and implementing this strategy.
GIDE has adopted three major steps in promoting adoption of EBP:
1. Production of Evidence and Distillation: Involves conducting systematic reviews (SRs) and then packaging relevant findings into products that can be put into action—such as specific practice recommendations—thereby increasing the likelihood that research evidence will find its way into practice. It is essential that the knowledge distillation process be informed and guided by end users for research findings to be implemented in service delivery. The criteria used in knowledge distillation include perspectives of the end users (e.g. transportability to the real-world development setting, feasibility, volume of evidence needed by implementing agencies), as well as considerations of traditional knowledge generation (e.g. strength of the evidence, generalizability).
2. Diffusion and Dissemination: Involves partnering with professional opinion leaders and development agencies in Africa and Asia to disseminate evidence that can form the basis of action to potential users. Dissemination partnerships link researchers with intermediaries that can function as knowledge brokers and connectors to the practitioners and development agencies. Intermediaries can be professional organizations such as national extension services in agriculture or multidisciplinary knowledge transfer teams such as those that are effective in disseminating research-based programs. In this approach, dissemination partnerships provide an authoritative seal of approval for new knowledge and help identify influential groups and communities that can create a demand for application of the evidence in practice. Both mass communication and targeted dissemination are used to reach audiences with the anticipation that early users will influence the latter adopters of the new usable, evidence-based research findings. Targeted dissemination efforts must use multifaceted dissemination strategies, with an emphasis on channels, media, conferences, seminars and consensus building meetings that are most effective for particular user segments (e.g. policy makers, researchers, extension agents, subject matter specialists, suppliers of inputs, development agencies etc).
3. End User Adoption, Implementation, and Institutionalization:: This is the final stage of the evidence transfer process. This stage focuses on getting national agencies, organizations and teams to adopt and consistently use evidence-based research findings and innovations in everyday practice. Implementing and sustaining EBPs in development settings involves complex interrelationships among the EBP players (e.g. minimizing adverse impacts of interventions), the organizational social system characteristics (such as operational structures and values, and the individual expertise). GIDE's variety of strategies for implementation include using change champions in national agencies able to address potential implementation challenges, piloting/trying the change in a particular setting, and using multidisciplinary implementation teams to assist in the practical aspects of embedding innovations into ongoing organizational processes.
GIDE is aware that changing practice takes considerable effort at both the community or organizational level to apply evidence-based information and products in a particular context. Once the EBP change is incorporated into the structure of the organization, the change is no longer considered an innovation but a standard practice.
GIDE's strategy is to help a broad range of stakeholders who set policy, make decisions and deliver aid on the ground, so that they can access the available evidence and make more informed decisions. In addition to aforementioned partners, GIDE has also formed and continues to form strategic partnership with impact evaluation institutions and individuals around the world to provide a more convincing conceptual and empirical basis to enhance the quality and impact of socioeconomic science research on policy and practice for inclusive green growth.
Foundations, bilateral and international agencies like below support and believe that systematic evidence-based review is an invaluable tool that can transform development policies like never before:
• AusAID, Australia
• Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA
• Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – UK
• Eval Partners
• International Development Research Center (IDRC) – Canada
• International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) - India/UK/USA
• MacArthur Foundation, USA
• The Campbell Collaboration (C2) – Norway
• The Cochrane Collaboration – UK
• The Department for International Development (DFID) – UK
• The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) - The Netherlands
• United Nations
• United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – USA
• World Bank
• World Health Organization