By Katherine Smith
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Extra resources for Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas
2002). This led Parsons to reflect that the UK government’s commitment to ‘evidence-based policymaking’ marked not so much a step forward as a step backwards: a return to the quest for a positivist yellow brick road leading to a promised policy dry ground – somewhere, over Charles Lindblom – where we can know ‘what works’ and from which government can exercise strategic guidance. (Parsons 2002: p. 45) Other commentators, such as Cohen (2000) and Hammersley (2005), warned that the restrictions New Labour was placing on governmentsponsored research were limiting the potential for academics to promote ideas that were out of line with government policies.
It committed the government to improving the use of evidence and research, ‘so that we understand better the problems we are trying to address’, making ‘more use of pilot schemes to encourage innovations and test whether they work’ and ensuring ‘that all policies 12 Beyond Evidence-Based Policy in Public Health and programmes are clearly specified and evaluated, and the lessons of success and failure are communicated and acted upon’ (Cabinet Office 1999a). g. Cabinet Office 1999b, 2000), all of which included claims suggesting New Labour’s conceptualisation of EBP was evolving in ignorance of the conclusions emerging from earlier policy efforts to increase research utilisation within policy (discussed in the previous section).
2006; Graham et al. 2006). All of this suggests that efforts to evaluate the UK’s approach to improving the relationship between public health research and policy may offer valuable insights of potentially international relevance. g. Black 2001; Burrows and Bradshaw 2001; Dobrow, 18 Beyond Evidence-Based Policy in Public Health Goel and Upshur 2004; Nutbeam and Boxall 2008; Nutley, Walter and Davies 2007; Sanderson 2006; Young et al. 2002). A major funding body, the ESRC, also helped establish a UK Centre for Evidence Based Policy and Practice (now known as Evidence Network), and a journal specifically dedicated to discussing the relationship between research evidence and policy, Evidence and Policy, a Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, was launched in January 2005 (see Young and Boaz 2005).