Briefing paper

Learning from research: systematic reviews for informing policy decisions

Research Research methodology Evidence-based policy Systematic reviews United Kingdom

Systematic reviews provide a vital tool for policy makers and practitioners to find what works, how it works – and what might do harm. Whether it is policing, teaching, social care or any other area of social policy, reviews can inform us about what is known, how it is known, how this varies across studies. It also tells us what is not known from previous research. 

This guide is a short introduction for decision-makers and researchers or anyone else considering whether a systematic review may be appropriate to fill a gap in knowledge or to use as a resource. It will help anybody planning on commissioning a review of what research is already out there. You may be an analyst, evaluator, policymaker or commissioner. The guide is aimed at anybody from central government, local authorities, public service providers, regulatory and advisory bodies, charities or the consultancy sector.

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