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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Beng Huat See

See, B.H. (2018). Evaluating the evidence in evidence-based policy and practice: Examples from systematic reviews of literature. Research in Education 102(1): 37-61.

Author(s) from Durham


With the push for evidence-informed policy and practice, schools and policy makers are now increasingly encouraged and supported to use and enagage with research evidence. This means that consumers of research will now need to be discerning in judging the quality of research evidence that will inform their decisions. This paper evaluates the quality of evidence behind some well-known education programmes using examples from previous reviews of over 5,000 studies on a range of topics. It shows that much of the evidence is weak, and fundamental flaws in research are not uncommon. This is a serious problem if teaching practices and important policy decisions are made based on such flawed evidence. Lives may be damaged and opportunities missed. The aim of this paper is to show how widespread this problem is and to suggest ways by which the quality of education research may be improved. For example, funders of research and research bodies need to insist on quality research and fund only those that meet the minimum quality criteria. Journal editors and reviewers need to be cognizant of fundamental flaws in research and reject such submissions. One way to do this is to encourage submission of the research design and research protocol prior to acceptance, so acceptance or rejection is based on the design and not on the outcomes. This helps prevent publication bias and biased reporting. Individual researchers can improve quality by making it their moral responsibility to be truthful and transparent.