"Evidence synthesis" refers to the process of bringing together information from a range of sources and disciplines to inform debates and decisions on specific issues. Decision-making and public debate are best served if policymakers have access to the best current evidence on an issue. An accurate, concise and unbiased synthesis of the evidence is therefore one of the most valuable contributions the research community can offer policymakers.
Despite examples of good practice, there remain challenges with both the supply of, and demand for, synthesised evidence. Research funding and evaluation systems often place higher value on original research, and a lack of communication and understanding between policymakers and researchers can create an unintended disconnect between the questions policymakers are asking and the research that has the potential to provide insight.
The report outlines the case for evidence synthesis for policy. It then proposes a set of principles that define the fundamental features of good synthesis to inform policymaking. Finally it proposes changes to the research and policy landscapes that would create a more effective marketplace for synthesis.
The report reflects discussions at two meetings organised by the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2017, and draws on expertise from a range of disciplines including medicine, natural sciences, social sciences and international development.
Evidence synthesis for policy: a statement of principles - full report
Principles for good evidence synthesis for policy - leaflet
Four principles to make evidence synthesis more useful for policy - Nature Comment from Professor Christl Donnelly FRS and colleagues