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23 de July de 2018Three sources to find strong evidence for public policies

Rigorous evidence refers to studies that perform an objective and standardized measurement of their variables of interest, demonstrating that the results obtained are based on relevant intervention and not external factors. 

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There are organizations specialized in processing and publishing rigorous evidence, to make it available to all stakeholders as a useful input to improve decision making in the public sector.

As a contribution in this regard, we offer three sources that can be accessed to obtain this type of data:

  • What Works Network: promoted by the British government, it is the first government-backed initiative that aims to facilitate the availability of rigorous evidence. This network is composed of seven What Works Centers, each one specialized in one subject: education, health, public safety, early childhood interventions, local economic growth, interventions in the elderly, and wellbeing.

    Every center is in charge of the production, collection, synthesis, translation and dissemination of specialized evidence on the relevant subject. Therefore, they all offer different products, some of common knowledge such as systematic reviews, their own academic papers and translations of third-party research. They also offer other specific content such as “comparison tools,” to make didactic comparisons of objective, cost and effectiveness of different interventions on a specific subject, and to determine how rigorous and strong the evidence found on that subject is. They also offer “guides and advice” on different subjects, which contain practical recommendations, context information on the subject and the impact of interventions. 
  • Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP): a network of academics and public servants committed to the generation and promotion of rigorous experimental evidence in the areas of governance, politics and institutional strengthening. This organization offers summaries of evidence that consist of the summary of academic research, including context information, research design, results and the policy implications. They have published 51 briefs to date. This institution is also part of the “Metaketa Initiative,” a collaborative effort that aims to improve the accumulation of experimental evidence on topics of particular interest to scholars and decision makers in the public sector, in order to counter external validity issues. 
  • The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL): a network with physical presence in 5 continents composed of 168 affiliated professors from 54 universities around the world. Just like EGAP, this institution provides summaries of academic research conducted by its affiliated scholars, and contains a sizeable database: 912 experimental studies carried out in 80 countries and covering sectors such as education, agriculture, crime and violence, governance, health, finance, gender equality, among others. They also offer policy publications with the findings in different interventions that tackle a specific policy issue, such as school attendance or corruption. In this regard, they have 88 publications to date.

    There is a wide variety of sources that can be accessed to obtain rigorous evidence that helps people make better decisions. Queries, especially those made during the design of any initiative that seeks to tackle a public issue, will help users to know if there is any policies applied in similar contexts from which valuable lessons can be drawn.
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