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Qualitative research: ethical evidence for policy making? Situating qualitative research in evidence- based research and systematic review agendas: RCBN.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative research: ethical evidence for policy making? Situating qualitative research in evidence- based research and systematic review agendas: RCBN."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative research: ethical evidence for policy making? Situating qualitative research in evidence- based research and systematic review agendas: RCBN seminar, 24 June 2004, University of Sheffield Lesley Saunders Policy Adviser for Research General Teaching Council for England

2 Who are ‘policy makers’? national government: Ministers, civil servants NDPBs national professional bodies national/local campaigning bodies local government: elected members, officers etc.

3 Skills of policy-making? grasp complex remit quickly interpret & adapt available evidence OR use hunches intellectually agile in unpredictable environment create consensus with wide range of partners/vested interests proactively shape intellectual & political environments manage coded discussions & difficult negotiations know what will count as success & exert leadership to achieve it take decisions in good faith (‘rationalist ideal’)

4 ‘Rationalist ideal’ It takes an extraordinary concatenation of circumstances for research to influence policy directly…. [rather] research helps people reconsider issues, it helps them think differently, it helps them re-conceptualise what the problem is and how prevalent it is, it helps them discard some old assumptions, it punctures old myths. (Weiss, 1991)

5 Risks when policy-makers look for ‘evidence’? rely on known & trusted researchers swayed by well-known or visible research use in-house or own-commissioned research act individually – little use made of digests, alerts, etc.; unaware of existing research & its implications want research to provide unequivocal proof use research selectively lack requisite skills for research appraisal & interpretation delegate research to specialists, with serious consequences

6 Some factors and pressures in policy environment relentless focus on ‘deliverables’ & rapid, responsive, just-in-time, ‘good enough’ knowledge replacement of traditional knowledge dissemination by global/local networks: ‘info- nuggets’ & ‘evidence-lite’ business & corporate research techniques like scenario-building, futurising puzzle of why ‘experts’ & scholars seen as part of problem in education policy making

7 Questions for researchers responsibility to engage with decision-makers, practitioners & public? competitive edge in concepts, hypotheses, argument & explanatory power? ‘added value’ of qualitative (rather than quantitative)? how well grounded in existing research methodologically &substantively? (how) will concerns of practitioners & school/college leaders be addressed? what engagement with other social science areas? how communicate/advocate ethical criteria & principles?

8 Making a difference: EPPI-centre systematic review of CPD policy implications secured by working with invited group of policy-makers on findings utility for practice secured by turning into GTC Research of the Month feature support for qualitative (= situated, process-related and context-specific) evidence

9 URLs view_groups%5CCPD%5Ccpd_rv1&FileName=cpd_rv1

10 GTC supports research-informed teaching & learning by: commissioning/co-funding research projects commissioning expert briefings membership of national advisory bodies (e.g. NERF, Funders Forum, RLG) setting up Teacher Data Forum supporting dissemination of ESRC TLRP sponsoring National Teacher Research Panel developing Teachers’ Professional Learning Framework & Teacher Learning Academy Research of the Month website special issue of ‘Teacher Development’ journal linking with BERA, UCET, individual HEIs

11 The GTC: becoming an evidence- informed organisation Possible indicators? policy advice demonstrably grounded in evidence events have strong, explicit research & evidence theme policy colleagues keen/knowledgeable about research researchers knowledgeable about policy context researchers want to work with GTC GTC’s evidence base known about & used by others


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