Assessing the quality of evidence - the NGO perspectiveSelf-regulatory and crossing all sectors, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have the power to influence national and international policies, and affect public opinion. Their impact in this respect cannot be underestimated. Increasingly, the call for for accountability and transparency in NGO activities means that quality of evidence is also now a vital component for NGOs in order for them to justify their activities, prove success and strengthen their position in advocacy for civil society.
BOND, the UK's NGO network is working on a set of principles for assessing the quality of evidence as part of its effectiveness programme. Guidelines like this can be seen to be in response to calls for more NGO accountability, as expressed in such good practice suggestions as Addressing accountability in NGO advocacy from One World Trust.
Assessing the quality of evidence - academic guidelines
Ensuring the quality of evidence in research is a process that begins at the proposal stage and continues throughout the research life-cycle. The academic sector has a number of guidelines in place to assist in the assessment of quality research throughout the research process.
This document, Quality assurance and assessment of scholarly research: a guide for researchers, academic administrators and librarians, offers an overview of some of the key issues surrounding quality assurance and assessment of scholarly research. It provides definitions of quality; tools and mechanisms; and assurance and assessment of projects and programmes, researchers, institutions and scholarly journals.
There are also more specific guidelines available which are aimed at particular stages of the research. For example, the Research Excellence Framework organisation provides an Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions.
Assessing the quality of evidence - what the UK Government says
Staff at the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) are provided with tools to help them appraise the quality of individual studies and bodies of evidence, such as in the guidance and framework set out in this How to note: Assessing the strength of evidence. The note has been created in order to promote proper assessment of evidence, and explain the distinctions between different data collection and analytical methods. This will help staff use evidence responsibly to improve policy and programmes.
The UK Cabinet Office have published guidance on assessing the quality of qualitative research evidence in the paper Quality in qualitative evaluation: a framework for assessing research evidence. It presents a framework for appraising the quality of qualitative evaluations, and was developed with particular reference to evaluations concerned with the development and implementation of social policy, programmes and practice.