Evidence-based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better

Evidence-based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing It Better

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By (author) Nancy Cartwright, By (author) Jeremy Hardie

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 228mm x 16mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 7 December 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199841624
  • ISBN 13: 9780199841622
  • Illustrations note: figures
  • Sales rank: 159,327

Product description

Over the last twenty or so years, it has become standard to require policy makers to base their recommendations on evidence. That is now uncontroversial to the point of triviality-of course, policy should be based on the facts. But are the methods that policy makers rely on to gather and analyze evidence the right ones? In Evidence-Based Policy, Nancy Cartwright, an eminent scholar, and Jeremy Hardie, who has had a long and successful career in both business and the economy, explain that the dominant methods which are in use now-broadly speaking, methods that imitate standard practices in medicine like randomized control trials-do not work. They fail, Cartwright and Hardie contend, because they do not enhance our ability to predict if policies will be effective. The prevailing methods fall short not just because social science, which operates within the domain of real-world politics and deals with people, differs so much from the natural science milieu of the lab. Rather, there are principled reasons why the advice for crafting and implementing policy now on offer will lead to bad results. Current guides in use tend to rank scientific methods according to the degree of trustworthiness of the evidence they produce. That is valuable in certain respects, but such approaches offer little advice about how to think about putting such evidence to use. Evidence-Based Policy focuses on showing policymakers how to effectively use evidence. It also explains what types of information are most necessary for making reliable policy, and offers lessons on how to organize that information.

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Author information

Nancy Cartwright is Professor of Philosophy at UC-San Diego and London School of Economics. Jeremy Hardie is an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford and a Fellow of King's College London; he is also Vice President of the Royal Economic Society, and was Chairman of the WH Smith Group from 1992 to 2010.

Review quote

Cartwright and Hardie make a well-meaning and serious attempt to speak to a nonacademic audience, share their expertise, and help solve real and practical policy problems Health Affairs Refreshing and insightful, this book should be read by all those who inhabit the boundaries between policy, evidence and uncertainty. James Wilsdon, Times Higher Education Cartwright and Hardie have produced an admirably clear and immensely practical guide on the use of evidence in policy making. Ray Pawson, Journal of Social Policy Using evidence to inform public policy seems like the natural, smart, and effective thing to do. But acting on this intuition can be fraught with complexity and can lead to decisions that are neither smart nor effective. Evidence-Based Policy is the primer we have been waiting for, and with its marvelous blend of theory and examples provides compelling evidence that improved decision making is possible. Michael Feuer, Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University, and author of Moderating the Debate: Rationality and the Promise of American Education Evidence-based policy is an enormously serious step in the long, steady improvement of bringing scientific knowledge to bear on public policy. But EBP is not as simple as it is often presented. This is a guide-unprecedented in its rigor and accessibility-to why it is easy to get EBP wrong and why it matters to get it right. Kenneth Prewitt, Former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Chair of the National Research Council Committee on The Use of Social Science Knowledge in Public Policy This books sparkles with intelligence. It develops a subtle argument lucidly and accessibly about the role of evidence in policy. It is a powerful antidote to the simplistic idea that policy simply needs to listen to the 'facts' about' what works.' It explains what is really involved in injecting evidence effectively into the formation of social policy. Essential reading for anyone who aspires to rational policy-making. Mike Hough, Professor of Criminal Policy, Birkbeck, University of London Chock full of accessible examples, this book explains clearly and cogently what's involved in making intelligent use of evidence in developing social policy. It should be essential reading for all wanting to contribute to effective evidence-based policy. Nick Tilley, author of Crime Prevention and co-author of Realistic Evaluation This well-written book reflects many of the central ideas that underlie my Reports on Child Protection in England. It combines rigorous theory with a valuable profusion of tips and case studies to give practical advice on how to think about what evidence you really need. Eileen Munro, author of the U.K. Government commissioned 2011 independent review of child protection in England the reader will discover an exacting and mathematically precise critique of the explanatory credentials of randomised controlled trials combined with a mass of worldly wise illustrations of the evidence actually needed to support practical policy decisions. Ray Pawson, Journal of Social Policy

Table of contents

Acknowledgments ; Preface: Do You Want to Read this Book? Putting our Conclusions First ; Part I: Getting Started: From 'It Worked There' to 'It Will Work Here'. ; Chapter I.A: What's in This Book and Why ; Chapter I.B: The Theory that Backs up What We Say ; Part II: Paving the Road from 'There' to 'Here' ; Chapter II.A: Support Factors: Causal Cakes and their Ingredients ; Chapter II.B: Causal Roles: Shared and Unshared ; Part III: Strategies for Finding What You Need to Know ; Chapter III.A: Where We are and Where We are Going ; Chapter III.B: Four Strategies ; Part IV: RCTs, Evidence-Ranking Schemes, and Fidelity ; Chapter IV.A: Where We are and Where We are Going ; Chapter IV.B: What are RCTs Good For? ; Chapter IV.C: Evidence-Ranking Schemes, Advice Guides, and Choosing Effective Policies ; Chapter IV.D: Fidelity ; Part V: Deliberation is not Second Best ; Chapter V.A: Where We are and Where We are Going ; Chapter V.B: Centralization and Discretion ; Part VI: Conclusion ; Appendix I: Representing Causal Processes ; Appendix II: The Munro Review ; Appendix III: CCTV and Car Theft ; Notes ; References ; Index