12 January 2015

Creating an Evidence Bank for Public Service Reform

Karen Seditas and Sarah Morton share details of the What Works Scotland Evidence Bank that is currently being developed to support the use of evidence in public service reform. 

What is the What Works Scotland Evidence Bank? 

Picture from http://www.thecommissioningelf.net
Getting evidence into action is an essential part of the What Works Scotland programme. As one way of making this happen, we are developing a What Works Scotland Evidence Bank: a knowledge service which will co-ordinate and share quality reviews of evidence in direct response to the needs of What Works Scotland issues.

The Evidence Bank will also share learning about how evidence can be used to help reform public services and create an evidence resource for local and national public service improvement and reform. It will link with the existing knowledge services of our partners.

The Evidence Bank builds on an evidence-to-action model developed by the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR), which explored ways of supporting people who deliver services to identify specific gaps in their knowledge and use evidence to help address them. To do this we created robust and accessible reviews of diverse evidence from research and evaluation in the academic and public spheres. The evidence was synthesised and peer-reviewed to make sure it was of high quality. 

We also supported services to plan how to use this evidence in practice: 
  • helping people think about what the evidence could and couldn’t tell us about the issues we were interested in, and 
  • generating discussion about what action could be taken based on the current state of knowledge.

A CRFR briefing about this service and the learning from it can be read here:http://www.crfr.ac.uk/assets/briefing-73web.pdf

What will the WWS Evidence Bank do? 

The WWS Evidence Bank is in the early stages of development. Over the three year programme of What Works Scotland it will:

Provide evidence reviews for What Works Scotland 
The Evidence bank will respond to the need for evidence on different topics by co-ordinating the production of evidence reviews using a process developed by CRFR which focuses on knowledge exchange and action. These might be on broad public service reform topics like partnership or leadership, or on specific topics linked to the case studies e.g. alcohol and young people.

A key purpose of the What Works Scotland Evidence Bank approach will be to make evidence accessible, meaningful and useful for the development and delivery of public services by using writing for knowledge exchange techniques and formats developed by CRFR. This might also include ‘translating’ existing relevant evidence reviews to make them more readable, accessible and focused on opportunities for action for those working in public service delivery.

Share learning
With other What Works Scotland partners we will develop  a hub for sharing learning from What Works Scotland.We will present this learning in ways which will be accessible for people working in different policy and practice contexts who are developing and delivering public service reform.

Create a resource 
We will create an online resource to share What Works Scotland evidence reviews and learning, and signpost to evidence sources relevant to public service improvement and reform.

We also aim to explore how the evidence-to-action model might be developed into a more widely available and sustainable knowledge service beyond the currently funded What Works Scotland initiative.

If you want to be linked to these developments, please sign up to our mailing list.

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