Evidence and Policy in Six European Countries: Diverse Approaches and Common Challenges

Topics: Policy, Research, Policy analysis Pages: 25 (7403 words) Published: April 15, 2013

Evidence and policy in six European countries:
diverse approaches and
common challenges
Sandra Nutley, Sarah Morton,Tobias Jung and Annette Boaz

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As previous contributions to Evidence & Policy indicate, there is international interest in the relationship between research evidence and the concerns of policy makers and practitioners (eg Mullen, 2005;Alexanderson et al, 2009; Ouimet et al, 2009;Widmer, 2009). Much of this interest has focused on documenting and debating various national efforts to promote more evidence-informed policies and practices within specific policy areas, such as education, healthcare and social work. Increasingly, there are also efforts to learn and draw broader lessons from these national endeavours. For example, in March 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the National Research Council of the National Academies of the United States co-hosted a conference in Paris (France) entitled ‘Evidence-based policy: international experiences’. There are also programmes and projects to map and review national arrangements for promoting evidence-informed decision making within specific policy sectors.This is illustrated by the Centre for Education Research and Innovation’s (CERI) reviews of the extent to which the educational research and development systems within OECD countries are functioning as repositories of knowledge on which practitioners and policy makers can draw.1 This issue of Evidence & Policy contributes to these efforts to learn from international developments in the evidence and policy field. It draws together papers from a seminar series that considered developments in six European countries: Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Sweden.The seminar series was funded through the New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Co-operation in Europe (NORFACE) initiative,2 a partnership between 14 research councils to increase cooperation in research and research policy in Europe, and we gratefully acknowledge their support.

Under the leadership of the Research Unit for Research Utilisation (RURU) and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the series brought together partners from the University of Iceland, the National University of Ireland, the University of Oslo (Norway) and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands). It also included other participants from Canada, Sweden, the UK and the US. Partners and participants in the seminar series came from a variety of backgrounds, including academics, freelance researchers, research funders, policy makers and practitioners. Their work and research interests cover a spectrum of policy and practice areas that including education, healthcare, social welfare and social work. We are grateful to all partners and participants for sharing

Evidence & Policy • vol 6 • no 2 • 2010 • 131-44 • 10.1332/174426410X502275


© The Policy Press • 2010 • ISSN 1744 2648


Sandra Nutley et al

their wealth of experience with us and for their many thoughtful contributions to the seminar discussions.
Running between 2007 and 2009, the seminars aimed to advance international and comparative understandings of the use of different forms of knowledge and evidence in the policy process through the sharing of ideas and discussions across these jurisdictions. Three seminars3 considered the following topics: •

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the role of different forms of evidence in the policy process and the relative weight attached to each of these by policy makers (Edinburgh, November 2007); the impact of the social sciences on policy and the impact of...

References: (2009) ‘Producing and consuming knowledge in social work practice: research and
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