Trials and tribulations: the 'use' (and 'misuse') of evidence in public policy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are increasingly playing a central role in shaping policy for development. By comparison, social experimentation has not driven the great transformation of welfare within the developed world. This introduces a range of issues for those interested in the nature of research evidence for making policy. In this article we will seek a greater understanding of why the RCT is increasingly seen as the ‘gold standard’ for policy experiments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but not in the more advanced liberal democracies, and we will explore the implications of this. One objection to the use of RCTs, however can be cost, but implementing policies and programmes without good evidence or a good understanding of their effectiveness is unlikely to be a good use of resources either. Other issues arise. Trials are often complex to run and ethical concerns often arise in social ‘experiments’ with human subjects. However, rolling out untested policies may also be morally objectionable. This article sheds new light on the relationship between evidence and evaluation in public policy in both the global north and developing south. It also tackles emerging issues concerning the ‘use’ and ‘misuse’ of evidence and evaluation within public policy.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages359-381
    Number of pages23
    JournalSocial Policy and Administration
    Volume47
    Issue number4
    Early online date7 Jun 2013
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013

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    public policy
    evidence
    gold standard
    experiment
    evaluation
    welfare
    democracy
    income
    policy
    trial
    public
    costs
    resources
    gold
    resource
    cost

    Keywords

    • social research
    • evidence-based policy
    • international comparisons
    • impact evaluation

    Cite this

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    abstract = "Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are increasingly playing a central role in shaping policy for development. By comparison, social experimentation has not driven the great transformation of welfare within the developed world. This introduces a range of issues for those interested in the nature of research evidence for making policy. In this article we will seek a greater understanding of why the RCT is increasingly seen as the ‘gold standard’ for policy experiments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), but not in the more advanced liberal democracies, and we will explore the implications of this. One objection to the use of RCTs, however can be cost, but implementing policies and programmes without good evidence or a good understanding of their effectiveness is unlikely to be a good use of resources either. Other issues arise. Trials are often complex to run and ethical concerns often arise in social ‘experiments’ with human subjects. However, rolling out untested policies may also be morally objectionable. This article sheds new light on the relationship between evidence and evaluation in public policy in both the global north and developing south. It also tackles emerging issues concerning the ‘use’ and ‘misuse’ of evidence and evaluation within public policy.",
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    Trials and tribulations : the 'use' (and 'misuse') of evidence in public policy. / Deeming, Chris.

    In: Social Policy and Administration, Vol. 47, No. 4, 01.08.2013, p. 359-381.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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