This article is a journey of thought, led by the author, introducing us to the concept of Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM). It is written in a style, which is original and unusual for academic writing. However, after the journey you are left with more questions that when you started.
Эта статья является путешествием мысли на которое вы приглашены автором, описывающим концепт политических решений, основывающихся на фактах. Стиль повествования оригинален и далёк от обычного академического письма. Но, в конце данного путешествия у вас остаётся больше вопросов чем до него.
Бұл мақала сізді ойлану саяхатына шақырып отыр, сізді шақырған ой-пікірлерімен, фактілерге негізделген саяси шешімдер тұжырымдамасын сипаттайды. Повесть стилі түпнұсқа және әдеттегі академиялық жазудан алыс. Бірақ, осы сапардың соңында бұрыннан гөрі көп сұрақтар туыңдайды.
A journey of thought
The article is written as a description of the process through which the author went, and the same style would be appropriate for a critical review of the said article. As a starting point, imagine being exposed to a catchy title of an article, which instantly makes you want to read it. You start reading and discover that it is easy to read, almost conversational, yet gets a point across. You start to understand what the EBPM concept means. The “imagine it’s you” approach helps you to start a journey of “wickedness”. You enjoy that there are questions in the introduction, because they grab your attention and make you think about what lies ahead.
However, you may think that the introduction is lacking a pitch, which will make it more interesting for you, the actual reason behind the “why do I care” question. A description of possible positive outcomes of applying EBPM in Kazakhstan may have been helpful in relating to this article.
The Walking Tour
The main body starts with setting the context for the journey, the need for a proposal for the implementation of EBPM. You think that using a theoretical example to set the scene is a good way to introduce a topic to a reader who is not familiar with it. You like the style chosen, there are interesting metaphors used throughout the text, such as the “lamppost” (Tham, 2017, p. 7) which may illuminate knowledge. However, here you pause to think about the target audience of this article. If it is aimed at the policy makers and civil servants, it may be too informal, if it is aimed at the laymen – what is the point of imagining being an expert in the field?
You think about the mentioned theory-practice divide and relate the importance of this topic to policymaking and implementation of said policies in education. This is exemplified in the case of inclusive education, where the policies and evidence are in place, however the practice and implementation are lacking (Mahlo, 2013). And for Kazakhstan, in education and other sectors of policymaking there are developments in creating the empirical basis, but there is still a need to create better tools for measuring and evaluating the quality of policies to reach EBPM (OECD, 2014).
As another step of the journey, you notice the organisational pattern of the article, which divides it into different sections. But, as you continue reading, you start getting confused and feel like you are jumping from topic to topic, because the sections seem disconnected and do not always link together seamlessly. More linking and connections between topics wold have create a more cohesive experience of the text.
You feel that some points and ideas, while you start to grasp them overall, may really benefit from additional examples and explanation, such as the whole “wicked problems” (Tham, 2017, p. 5) concept, prominent in the name of the article, but brought up as a topic only by the 5th page. Even systems approach cited as best for solving wicked problems may need to be based on scientific evidence, as the two concepts often go hand in hand: “evidence-based policy also aims to clarify the interrelationship between different risk factors and different types of measures. This brings us to the systems approach” (Filtness, 2016, p. 13). Another example is that author claims that it is “difficult for the proponents to recognize the role of politics?”, but gives no example of this difficulty, an example of which may have brought you closer to understanding of the ideas in the article.
The abundance of questions throughout the article makes you want to answer all of them, even though they may be rhetoric questions, yet the aim of the article does not seem to be a dialogue between the author and the readers. This creates the idea that creating several blog posts on this topic would allow for a more back-and-forth format and create platform for further discussion, which may have created a further purpose for the reader.
You Got Us Where You Needed, What Next?
You find it ironic, that he conflicting dilemma described in this work is that evidence based policy making needs more evidence to prove that it is worthwhile.
In the end of the journey, even though you may disagree with the conclusions, you sit there, realising that now you know more than you did before reading this work, making it a worthwhile contribution of your time. But there is a thought nagging at the back of your brain: “What next?”. Overall, I was left with the same feeling as after finishing watching the first season of Westworld, or if I were to put it in the words of the author: “there are so many questions, with few answers” (p. 7, 2017, Tham).
Filtness, A. J. (2016). The application of systems approach for road safety policy making Deliverable 8.1 of the H2020 project SafetyCube. Loughborough. Retrieved from https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/23723/1/Del_8.1_Final_281016.pdf
Mahlo, D. (2013). Theory and Practice Divide in the Implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy: Reflections through Freire and Bronfenbrenner’s Lenses. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences MCSER Publishing, 4(13), 163–170. https://doi.org/10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n13p163
OECD. (2014). OECD Public Governance Reviews Kazakhstan: Review of the Central Administration. OECD Publishing. Retrieved from https://books.google.kz/books?id=uYXkBQAAQBAJ&dq=Evidence+Based+Policy+Making+in+Kazakhstan&hl=ru&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Tham, J. (2017). Evidence-Based Policy Making (EBPM) is wicked: a critical assessment from the periphery.