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The evidence revolution

6 December 2018

The Research School of Management (RSM) recently welcomed Professor Howard White and Professor Julia Littell, from the Campbell Collaboration, to speak about the role of systematic reviews in the evidence revolution that is sweeping both the public and private sectors.

A systematic review is an appraisal and synthesis of primary research papers that uses a rigorous and clear methodology in both the search strategy and selection of studies. This reduces bias in the results and allows for easier take-up by government and other policy bodies. By reviewing what the literature says within their areas of academic interest, researchers can take part in the global network of knowledge brokering.

There is a need to promote the evidence agenda more broadly, across academia.

The Campbell Collaboration aims to promote positive social and economic change by producing and using these systematic reviews for evidence-based policy and practice. RSM is currently engaged with the Campbell Collaboration, and hopes to continue this relationship as Australia improves its capacity to review and create evidence maps.

Professor White, Campbell’s CEO, describes the current need for this evidence revolution both within and outside of academia.

“There is a need to promote the evidence agenda more broadly, across academia. Their incentives are not yet aligned with making the world a better place with public policy, they’re geared towards publishing in journals.”

Professor Julia Littell has a background in social work and holds a position at Bryn Mawr College in the US. She has been working with the Campbell Collaboration for 15 years, helping to improve their reviews, and feels that the world of policy is in dire need of more efficient means to access evidence.

“There is just so much work out there, decision makers cannot review this material themselves. We’ve been writing research reviews for decades and doing it badly, and we’ve found there’s now a science to this. We’ve learned a lot about how to do reviews to get unbiased, more complete answers—it’s a very exciting area to be working in, but it’s new to people in a lot of fields.”

The buy-in from industry and government can happen quickly and suddenly. Although Australia is lagging behind, the UK has been leading the way with implementing evidence-based policy. Once the UK’s policy teams embraced the shift in methodology, more than 1 million children in UK schools were part of randomised control trials over a five-year period, helping to improve educational outcomes.

RSM is currently developing its relationship with the Campbell Collaboration in an effort to contribute robust evidence syntheses that will help the areas of business and management going forward in Australia.

More information:

Research School of Management

The Campbell Collaboration

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Updated:   6 December 2018 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team