PAN

The Policy > Action Network (P>AN) is hosted by the Research Use and Impact Assessment Unit (RIA) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology.

P>AN supports the policy community by sourcing information on social policy with the aim of contributing to rigour in policy making and greater participation in policy processes. This site contains a range of resources including case studies, policy briefs, research reports, events info and ‘how-to’ info on getting research into policy, and getting policy into action.

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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

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On 29–30 September 2016 Results for All, an initiative of Results for America, partnered with Nesta’s Alliance for Useful Evidence to host Evidence Works 2016: A Global Forum for Government. This invitation-only forum took place at the Royal Society in London, UK, with the support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Evidence Works 2016 convened senior officials from government, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and philanthropic organisations to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas about the policies and practices governments around the world are putting in place to promote the use of evidence and data in policymaking to improve outcomes for citizens and communities.

Part one in a series of articles to be published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology which reflects on developments of the past two decades and consider further steps that will help with the translation of reliable research results into the decision making process. There has been a rapid growth in various initiatives to promote EBHC in the African region. These include the conduct and reporting of primary and secondary research, research capacity development and supportive initiatives, access to information, and work with decision makers in getting research into clinical guidelines and health policies. Much, however, still needs to be done to improve the impact on health in the region. A multipronged approach consisting of regionally relevant well-conducted research addressing priority health problems, increased uptake of research in health care policy and practice, dedicated capacity development initiatives to support the conduct as well as use of research, facilitated by wider collaboration, and equitable partnerships will be important. Working together in mutually supporting partnerships is key to advancing both evidence-informed health care practices and better health.

This document introduces the process of developing an Evidence Map and aims to guide prospective users on the methodological requirements associated with the tool. It also hopes to introduce a wider audience to evidence mapping that is interested in developing and learning more about the tool. This guidance note was produced by a team of researchers and decision makers in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), together with social scientists at the University of Johannesburg, following a nine-month pilot project of co-producing an evidence map on housing, human settlements and the built environment.

"There has been an enormous increase in interest in the use of evidence for public policymaking, but the vast majority of work on the subject has failed to engage with the political nature of decision making and how this influences the ways in which evidence will be used (or misused) within political areas. This book provides new insights into the nature of political bias with regards to evidence and critically considers what an 'improved' use of evidence would look like from a policymaking perspective"

Monograph from IDRC and CODESRIA. The link between research and policy is of paramount importance in the goal to improve social, economic and environmental conditions in developing countries. The nature of the collaboration between researchers and decision-makers, however, is complex, multifaceted and often difficult to implement. Moreover, research is very often designed and carried out without regard for its potential users or beneficiaries. How should research agendas be developed? What is the role of the private sector in developing research? Which actors are involved in knowledge production and utilization? How can the dialogue between researchers and decision-makers be improved? This short and accessible book records the reflections, opinions and recommendations which emerged from six national workshops organised between 2004 and 2007 in West and Central Africa on the synergy between researchers and decision-makers.

This seminar addressed two key features of the discourse around restitution for past injustices, that of locating selves in these conversations about the past and interrogating the aim of restitution – in the light of current inequalities. Drawing on her recently published book, Another Country: Everyday social restitution, Prof Swartz offered the concept of ‘social restitution’ - understood as the actions and attitudes that everyday people can undertake in dialogue with each other to ‘make things good again’, and describes new language beyond the labels of victims and perpetrators to talk about our role in the past including beneficiary, ostrich and resister. She describes how restoring personhood is a key aim to achieve social cohesion and to deal with the shame of an unaddressed past, including blame-shifting. 

This policy brief introduces systematic reviews and evidence gap maps as two relatively new types of synthesised evidence in South African context. It explains why these synthesis tools are particularly valuable for the policy-making processes. It offers a brief history of their development, their main characteristics and procedures, as well as the main resources where they are found. In addition, it describes current production levels and usage of these synthesis tools in South Africa, and concludes with a call for greater attention and use of these tools to improve research evidence availability in the policy-making processes. 

To achieve the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) in addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, government requires data sources that provide empirical evidence which informs society on how far we have come in addressing these challenges and how far we still need to go. In 2006, the Presidency commissioned the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town to undertake a panel study, the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS). South Africa has joined developed countries such as the UK and the US and developing countries such as Mexico and Indonesia in having a national panel survey. South Africa is a society that is undergoing rapid economic, political and social change, and the government identified the need for a panel study in order to better understand social change, mobility, poverty and household dynamics.This seminar explored the lives of children and youth in South Africa

Inequality among different socio-economic, racial and gender groups is a salient topic in South Africa. Specifically in education, the South African education system exhibits a skew distribution of achievement levels for an upper-middle-income developing country. It is thus critical to assess educational inequality in order to address the systemic factors which inhibit the attainment of an equitable educational system. The analysis of data from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provides an opportunity to examine this issue from a number of different perspectives.

TIMSS is an international study which assesses mathematics and science knowledge at the Grades 4, 8 and 9 levels. South Africa has participated in four rounds of TIMSS Grade 8 and 9 surveys over the last 20 years. The analysis of this data has allowed the Human Sciences Research Council to examine the key policy areas of gender equity, safety and security, educational pathways and the impact of inequality. In addition, the emerging issue of learner attitudes as a significant factor in understanding learner achievement has been explored. Using this data, four policy briefs and a journal article have been published which contextualise mathematics and science achievement within the broader South African landscape of inequality and poverty. In a bid to deepen the South African education agenda, it is necessary to engage key stakeholders in critical discussion in key policy areas and emerging policy debates.

Attached are policy briefs drawn from this study and presentations from the seminar will be made available shortly

What level of income is needed these days in order to get by, or better still in order to have a decent standard of living?  South Africa is moving in a positive direction towards implementing a national minimum wage, but there is concern about whether it will be sufficient to enable people to cover their costs of living. The amount required for an adequate diet is calculated by Statistics South Africa, but the costs of other aspects of life are less well established. This seminar comprises a series of short presentations with opportunity for discussions. The presentations will comprise: (1) recent findings on the incomes of those who do enjoy a socially-derived decent standard of living in South Africa, and the challenge of how to cost out such a standard of living in order to engage with debates on the adequacy of wages, social security and the social wage; (2) current work in the UK on the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) approach to costing out a decent standard of living, and how this work has been used to inform policy; (3) findings from a pilot of the MIS approach in South Africa; (4) insights from a parallel pilot of the MIS approach in Mexico. The seminar will conclude by identifying pragmatic steps towards costing out a decent standard of living, followed by discussion about the opportunities this will present for sharpening debates about thresholds of adequacy. BACKROUND DOCUMENTS AND PRESENTATIONS ARE ATTACHED.