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The terms evidence-based and evidence-informed policy have become commonplace in development vernacular and many development actors, including Eldis, work to promote the use of research evidence in the design and delivery of development policies and practice. But with the volume and accessibility of potentially useful research increasing all the time how do we go about ensuring that the evidence we use to make decisions is reliable, balanced, accurate and applicable to our needs?

This guide aims to provide a starting point for people trying to navigate and understand evidence to help their decision making and practice.

How do you assess the quality of evidence?

There are a number of different ways to approach this. Disciplines, such as medicine and economics, have well established and rigorous methodologies for assessing the quality of evidence that can, and are being applied to research in international development.

To get you started, we have developed the following collections of resources, which provide guidance on a selection of the different methods used. We provide a section examining a few frameworks used in the health and medical sectors, and then look at some examples from other sectors.

If you only have time to read one document, a recent publication worth having a look at is the following "How to Note".


How to note: Assessing the strength of evidence
Files on bookcase
S. Torfinn / Panos Pictures
The “Assessing the Strength of Evidence” How to Note is published by the UK Department for International Development and aims to help their staff assess the strength of the evidence they are using to inform policy and programming choices. They have made the note more widely available, recognising that it may be useful to research, policy and practitioner audiences elsewhere.
Health sector examples
The health and medical sectors hold some of the longest traditions of established frameworks for assessing the quality of evidence. There are a number of different tools and frameworks, and we outline some of them in this section.
Examples from other sectors
There are other sectors outside of health also working towards evaluating the quality of evidence in their work, and there are a range of different frameworks available.
Resource list

In this section, you will find a full list of the resources referred to in this guide to assessing the quality of evidence.