Evidence based everything

Andrew O'Sullivan

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


Ann Oakley (2002) referred to “evidence-based everything” referring to a growing ‘movement’ promoting use
of more evidence-based and evidence-informed approaches to enhance quality in educational and social
policy formulation and decision making. The movement has been influential in many jurisdictions. In the United
Kingdom, Montuschi (2009) claims “evidence-based policy has become the way ahead for developing social
programmes” (p. 426). Labels such as ‘Evidence-Based Decision Making’ (EBDM) and the more nuanced
‘Evidence Informed Policy and Practice’ (EIPP) describe widely recognized approaches employing evidence in
a policy-making or decision making process (Wallace, 2001). An attractive simplicity attaches to the common
sensical notion that research’s job is to directly provide data for decisions and proof of ‘what works’ (Levačić
and Glatter, 2003). However, delving deeper into evidence use in social policy formulation reveals layers of
complexity concerning the nature of evidence, its presentation and processing, the warrant attached to its
various forms, and the links between evidence and practice. A web of factors exists helping shape a climate
conducive to demands for approaches to formulating more effective educational policy and practices based
on or informed by evidence. Part of this climate also facilitates the spread or ‘flow’ of the evidence related
approaches to different national and jurisdictional contexts including the Gulf region. The dominant models
of EIPP processes privilege particular research paradigms over others. This paper attempts to briefly present
responses to the following questions:
• Where does the evidence-based approach originate from and where does the evidence ‘movement’
reside in terms of its epistemology and its world view?
• When is evidence deemed compelling or convincing enough to advocate a change or reform policy?
• What implications for educational policy in the GCC region and the UAE does a more evidence-based
approach imply and how should educational researchers respond?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGulf Comparative Education Society’s Fourth Annual Symposium on Bridging the Policy/Research Divide in Education in the GCC
PublisherGulf Comparative Education Society
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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