New research in overall support of the Evidence [Aid]

Steph Macdonald

Humanitarians working in crisis zones need real-time access to evidence. A recent study from McMaster University in Canada explored the effectiveness of Evidence Aid’s resource collections on critical decision-making.

In times of crisis, healthcare professionals, humanitarian actors and policy makers look for reliable evidence to make informed decisions. Despite global spending in humanitarian aid rocketing over recent years, many stakeholders are still without timely access to the evidence they need. Step in Evidence Aid and their extensive collection of resources, providing clear, correct and concise evidence on crises from acute malnutrition to earthquakes.

Utilized by a wide range of audiences, from researchers and analysts to senior decision makers in the field, Evidence Aid has been praised for its independent research collections and entry point links. However, a recent study by McMaster University researchers who conducted interviews with over 30 evidence stakeholders working in crisis zones highlighted two big shortcomings of the platform. The lack of a search engine on the website’s home page was identified as a barrier to resource discoverability. Stakeholders were also frustrated that ‘free-to-view’ versions of articles were not always available, with senior decision makers emphasizing the importance of timely access to resources in times of crisis.

While altering the location of a search engine within a website is an easy fix and one that has already been implemented by Evidence Aid, providing ‘free-to-view’ links to research outputs is a bigger challenge because it requires additional resourcing from both within and outside the sector. Negotiations with publishers take place on a regular basis but are time-consuming. As a charity with a small team of employees, Evidence Aid does not currently have the financial capacity, or indeed the legal ability, to provide ‘free-to-view’ links to all resources.

In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, researchers and publishers have banded together to ensure that all research relating to COVID-19 is available open access. However, for research to be truly accessible, it must also be discoverable. Evidence Aid’s COVID-19 resource page provides users with a list of links to entry points to reliable literature, including several non-English web pages. Last month, Evidence Aid was among four organizations (BBC Media Action, Evidence Aid, Internews and Translators without Borders) to receive funding from the H2H Network – a group of almost 50 organizations that support emergency and humanitarian action – to assist in the global response to COVID-19. Supported by the UK government and hosted by the Danish Refugee Council, the H2H Network offers support to all humanitarian responders to help elicit more effective, efficient and high-quality outcomes.

Additional resources, such as the funding generously provided by the H2H Network, are essential for Evidence Aid to continue to curate reliable and unbiased research collections for those who need it most.

More information on Evidence Aid, including ways to get involved or donate to its cause, can be found here.

Evidence Aid is proud to be partnering with Oxford PharmaGenesis in 2020.