KM4Dev: Following evidence from production to use at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

8 August, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Are you familiar with the Knowledge Management for Development Journal? The new issue is freely available here: www.km4djournal.org (If you are curious about how the HIFA forums are facilitated, you can read our paper on Reader-Focused Moderation here: http://www.hifa.org/sites/default/files/other_publications_uploads/Healt... )

CITATION: W. Hankey and G. Pictet. 2019. Following evidence from production to use at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: where does it all go? Knowledge Management for Development Journal 14(1): 38-66 www.km4djournal.org/38

ABSTRACT: Most humanitarian organisations claim to be evidence-based but how often has this been tested? The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) carried out a network analysis of its documentation to examine how evidence is produced, circulated and used within the IFRC. Network graphs were produced from a sample of 404 documents, depicting the structure of citations between documents. Methodologically, an actor-network perspective was employed to follow the flow of evidence and information through documents in a bid to understand the effort applied to our commitment to be evidence-based. This analysis found the uptake of evidence by other documents to be wanting. Through conventional metrics, we also found that connected documents follow a power-law distribution at multiple scales, implying the structure is scale-free, and identified the key documents shape this hierarchical structure. Unlike conventional explanations for scale-free networks, we found Least Effort provides a better explanation to how this specific arrangement arose. The limited and fragmented use of citations suggests that the principle of Least Effort is a consequence of the organisational culture in the aid sector which fails to adequately incentivise more reflexive practices in the production and use of evidence.

COMMENT (NPW): Arguably, what is important is not 'how evidence is produced, circulated and used within the IFRC', but whether IFRC's policies and practices are based on all available relevant evidence (especially (especially, but not exclusively, systematic reviews) pertaining to its policies and practices. This evidence is more likely to come from outside IFRC than from within (with the exception of 'evidence' from monitoring and evaluation of IDRC's activities, which is a related but different issue).

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice

http://www.hifa.org/projects/evidence-informed-policy-and-practice

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org