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Sources for evidence in support of or against programs and policies
Note: Links are highlighted in dark orange.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have provided a range of interesting resources here on "Countering Misinformation and Sharing Science Effectively." The resources could be useful for anyone teaching a class on evidence-based policymaking.
  • Here is yet another report, this one from the Arnold Ventures Evidence-Based Policy team, describing the typical yet disappointing results of evaluation research: "When rigorously evaluated, most social programs and practices are found not to produce the hoped-for improvements in people’s lives, compared to usual services." Ouch! In its next report, the team will provide suggestions for making progress on these intractable problems.
  • This article from The Economist provides a glossary of economic terms and concepts, organized in alphabetical order. It covers macroeconomics, microeconomics, public policy, and international economics. It could be helpful to non-economists who are interested in public policy issues, as it provides an accessible introduction to key economic terms and concepts. It is also interesting to review to see how many concepts you know or remember from high school or undergrad coursework (if indeed you ever took a related class at that level - I did not)!
  • Researchers with an international focus should check out the new "Evidence Platform" from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to encourage the use of data, documentation, and analysis. The corporation is a U.S. foreign assistance agency that "provides grants to developing countries in order to support sustainable growth and improved infrastructure to better people’s lives."
  • Nine of the biggest policy research organizations have "join[ed] forces to support diversity in their workplaces, strengthen inclusive practices in policy research, and build a foundation for equitable analysis ready to inform policymaking across the nation." More information on the Collaborative can be found here. Odd that they didn't ask Duddon Research to join! ;)
  • Straight from the federal government itself is its description of the website " communicates how the Federal Government is building and using varied forms of evidence, including evaluation, to inform effective policy-making. This website includes a compilation of laws, guidance, standards, and policies related to the Evidence Act, links to materials that reflect the Government-wide implementation of Title I of the Evidence Act, and resources for Federal Government agencies conducting or seeking to conduct evaluations of their programs, policies, or operations."
  • Abt Associates has developed an online tool that the organization’s staff will use to automate parts of the review process for examining evidence about particular public programs. A description of the tool is here but the tool itself does not yet appear available to the public - perhaps it's not intended for public use? But if it were available to the public, it could prove useful to smaller stakeholders that do not have the resources to fully evaluate programmatic evidence themselves.
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts has helped fund an initiative in Colorado to assist the state in applying "research evidence to fund programs that work.” As part of the initiative, Colorado state agencies are now required to use common language in a framework called “the evidence continuum” to better understand whether publicly-funded programs work. An overview of the facets of Colorado’s evidence continuum is here. Pew has long supported evidence-based policymaking at the state level.
  • POLITICO Pro offers a free resource center with guides and policy tools ranging from advice on writing briefs to tips for building relationships with lawmakers. These resources would be particularly helpful to instructors who are teaching policy-relevant courses and looking for practical, user-friendly guides for their students.
  • The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act was designed to support the use of rigorous program evaluation practices in federal agencies. So how do federal evaluation officials evaluate the act itself? Answers are in this survey.
  • Under the Biden Administration, will we see a new emphasis on scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking? A recent White House memorandum establishes a new Task Force on Scientific Integrity. The memo directs the task force to review policies related to scientific integrity across all federal agencies, report the results of the review, and maintain ongoing reviews of related policies.
Perhaps more importantly, these scientific-integrity policies must include support for building the underlying evidence base using rigorous social science research techniques. In addition, agencies are directed to expand access to federal data routinely collected in the course of administering government programs.
  • Do behavioral nudges work in policy contexts? What is the evidence for or against the success of these types of nudges? Find the answer in this July 2020 blog post from the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team, with links to the supporting research.
  • Speaking of behavioral nudges, a themed issue of the academic journal Policy & Politics, published in September 2020, provides a "state-of-the-art" overview of advances in behavioral public policy and administration - and as of October 2020, the articles were available via a free download.
  • And check out the work of Duke University's Center for Advanced Hindsight, which specializes in behavioral science research with policy applications.
The coronavirus pandemic, April 2020
  • The Policy Surveillance Program at Temple University has been compiling resources that track policies addressing aspects of COVID-19. The compiled resources track policy responses at every jurisdictional level, including international. 
Other resources
We have listed other organizations and internet sources below, in (somewhat) alphabetical order:
  • The American Institutes for Research, founded in 1946 as a non-profit, is an Arlington, VA-based research, evaluation, and technical assistance organization. AIR focuses on issues relating to education, health, and human services. Its newsletters provide updates on evidence and policy research in these and other policy areas.
  • The Blueprints for Health Youth Development at the University of Colorado-Boulder (and currently funded by Arnold Ventures) maintains a registry of  of evidence-based interventions that are effective in promoting health youth development:
The Campbell Collaboration also recommends the Meta-Evidence Blog, the health-focused Evidently Cochrane blog, and the mental health-focused National Elf Service. Most are U.K.-based, but the information presented is broadly applicable.
  • is a government-sponsored resource for evidence about criminal justice programs and what works, what doesn't, and what's promising. The website's reviews have been heavily criticized by some economists as "getting evidence wrong." The debate offers a prime opportunity for someone to research and explore the surrounding issues!  Here is an overview of the CrimeSolutions program.


Another U.S. Department of Justice-sponsored resource, but with a focus on juveniles, is the Model Programs Guide, located here:

  • Evidence for Democracy (E4D) is a Canadian non-profit that promotes the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada. Its website is here: Notably, the organization also "cultivat[es] public and political demand for evidence-based decision-making" through issue-based awareness and education campaigns. Although the missions of many U.S. non-profits overlap with pieces of E4D's mission, no single U.S. non-profit matches E4D's mission, at least, not that we know of.

  • The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) maintains an "evidence portal" that serves as a repository for information on what works in the field of international development:

  • Mathematica, the policy research organization, provides information on policies and practices that have been proven effective by Mathematica’s own research: is a podcast from December, 2021 in which Mathematica researchers “reflect on the role that evidence played in responding to pressing challenges in the past year and preview how evidence may help address problems in the year ahead.”


  • Results for America is a national non-profit organization that works with federal, state, and local leaders to accelerate their use of evidence and data when making budget, policy, and management decisions. The organization's work includes a range of tools, resources, and technical assistance to help policymakers "implement what works." Check out their tools and resources here.


  • Nesta is a U.K.-based charity whose work includes generating evaluative evidence for use in tackling a range of social problems. Although U.K.-focused, its work may be applied in the contexts of other countries, including the U.S. Browse reports from Nesta's Evidence and Experimentation team here.

  • Within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation studies the social service programs of the department's Administration for Children and Families. The office's work includes evaluating both existing programs and new approaches for helping low-income children and families, developing research syntheses, and conducting descriptive and exploratory studies. Here is a link to the agency's "evidence clearinghouse" for research on the effectiveness of interventions to assist job seekers with low incomes.


  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, another federal agency, maintains a website with information about programs and practices that evidence has shown to be effective:

  • The U.S. Department of Education sponsors a "what works" resource for education-related programs: However, some funding organizations have expressed concerns about the validity of the published ratings.

  • The Washington State Institute for Public Policy may be the only public research firm that conducts benefit-cost analysis on state public policies in a range of subject areas to determine whether those policies represent an efficient use of public funds:

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