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Engaging environmental policy-makers with systematic reviews: challenges, solutions and lessons learned

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Title: Engaging environmental policy-makers with systematic reviews: challenges, solutions and lessons learned
Authors: Collins, AM
Coughlin, D
Randall, N
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The creation and accumulation of robust bodies of knowledge, along with their dissemination, utilisation and integration in decision support are key to improving the use of evidence in decision-making. Systematic reviews (SRs), through their emphasis on transparency, replicability and rigour, offer numerous benefits throughout the policy-making cycle and for improving the use of evidence in environmental policy-making. As a result there have been numerous calls to increase the use of SRs in environmental policy-making. This commentary paper introduces the challenges of engaging policy-makers with SRs and, using experiences of producing SRs with Government Departments and Agencies within the UK and Europe, identifies possible solutions and shares our lessons learned. It highlights that co-production can help to overcome a number of challenges by ensuring that review questions are policy-relevant, that the context of the review is taken into consideration and that review’s findings are communicated so that they are recognised and used in policy decision-making processes. Additionally, a pragmatic approach to the review’s methodology may be required to respond to policy-making requirements. Here, a risk-based approach can communicate the trade-offs between the rigour and timeliness of the review. Ensuring that systematic approaches are upheld at all times can help address impartiality concerns and can develop skills in both reviewers and policy-makers to increase awareness of systematic methods, leading to changes in practice and culture within decision-making organisations and the promotion of evidence informed policy development and decisions.
Issue Date: 14-Jan-2019
Date of Acceptance: 20-Dec-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/66210
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13750-018-0144-0
ISSN: 2047-2382
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: Environmental Evidence
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Funder's Grant Number: NE/L011506/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 2
Online Publication Date: 2019-01-14
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences