Evidence-based policy

Protocols or political decisions based on data collection and analysis / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Evidence-based policy is an idea in public policy proposing that policy decisions should be based on, or informed by, rigorously established objective evidence. The implied contrast is with policymaking based on ideology, 'common sense,' anecdotes, and intuitions. It is the government equivalent of the effective altruism movement. Evidence-based policy uses a thorough research method, such as randomized controlled trials (RCT).[1] Good data, analytical skills, and political support to the use of scientific information are typically seen as the crucial elements of an evidence-based approach.[2]

Some have promoted particular types of evidence as 'best' for policymakers to consider, including scientifically rigorous evaluation studies such as randomized controlled trials to identify programs and practices capable of improving policy-relevant outcomes. However, some areas of policy-relevant knowledge may not be well served by quantitative research. This has led to a debate about the type of evidence to use. For instance, policies concerned with human rights, public acceptability, or social justice may require proof other than randomized trials provide. Also, policy evaluation may require moral philosophical reasoning in addition to considerations of evidence of intervention effect (which randomized trials are principally designed to provide[3]). The purpose of evidence-based policy is to use scientific evidence rigorously and comprehensively to inform decisions rather than to allow political processes to use them in a piecemeal, manipulated, or cherry-picked manner.

Some policy scholars now avoid using the term evidence-based policy, using others such as evidence-informed. This language shift allows continued thinking about the underlying desire to improve evidence use in terms of its rigor or quality while avoiding some of the key limitations or reductionist ideas at times seen with the evidence-based language. Still, the language of evidence-based policy is widely used and, as such, can be interpreted to reflect a desire for evidence to be used well or appropriately in one way or another—such as by ensuring systematic consideration of rigorous and high-quality policy-relevant evidence, or by avoiding biased and erroneous applications of evidence for political ends.[4]

A related group is the rationalist community.[5]