Policy-based evidence making

Policy-based evidence making

The term Policy based evidence making is a pejorative term which refers to the commissioning of research in order to support a policy which has already been decided upon. The name has been suggested as a corollary to evidence based policy making.

As the name suggests, policy based evidence making means working back from a predefined policy to produce underpinning evidence. Working from a conclusion to provide only supporting evidence is an approach which contradicts most interpretations of the scientific method; however, it should be distinguished from research into the effects of a policy where such research may provide either supporting or opposing evidence.

The term "policy based evidence making" was referred to in a report of the United Kingdom House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology into Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making issued in October 2006. The committee stated:

quotation| [Ministers] should certainly not seek selectively to pick pieces of evidence which support an already agreed policy, or even commission research in order to produce a justification for policy: so-called "policy-based evidence making" (see paragraphs 95–6). Where there is an absence of evidence, or even when the Government is knowingly contradicting the evidence—maybe for very good reason—this should be openly acknowledged.
Paragraph 89, "House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making" [ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmsctech/900/900-i.pdf House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence Based Policy Making] ]

The term has also been applied outside the strictly scientific arena, for example in a position paper for the Arts and Humanities Research Council [ [http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/images/position_paper_oliver_bennett.pdf Position paper for AHRC by Oliver Bennett] ]


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