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Producing policy relevant systematic reviews: navigating the policy-research interface

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This study employed insider research and reflective practice to investigate exchanges across the research-policy interface to understand the practice of producing policy-relevant systematic reviews. Interviewees came from 11 systematic reviews or review programmes which spanned four models of policy-relevant reviews and between them provided evidence for understanding policy problems, comparing policy options, or implementing policy decisions. No review methodology was found to be uniquely appropriate for policy-relevant systematic reviews. It was the mutual engagement across the research-policy interface that made the reviews policy-relevant. This involved thinking about the issues and seeing them from multiple viewpoints to identify and shape questions; this prompted implicit or explicit value-driven debates. The intellectual work to shape a policy-relevant systematic review is an iterative, collective endeavour that requires partners from either side of the policy-research interface to engage with the unfamiliar, listen, challenge and co-construct questions and answers.

Key messages

Policy relevant systematic reviews are shaped by:

Horizon scanning, consulting or setting research agendas with policy makers;

Postgraduate students combining research training with employment backgrounds in policy;

Knowledge brokering between worlds of policy and research; and/or

Lateral thinking, exploratory thoughtprovoking discussion and constructive conflict.
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Keywords: framing; policy relevance; research synthesis; systematic review

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected] 3: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: May, 2018

This article was made available online on July 4, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Producing policy relevant systematic reviews: navigating the policy-research interface".

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