This series of eight briefs, produced by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, is intended to provide guidance on how to undertake, commission and manage evidence synthesis products such as systematic reviews, rapid evidence assessments and evidence gap maps. Evidence synthesis can play an important role in UNICEF’s knowledge management and evidence translation efforts by collating knowledge from multiple studies on what interventions work, and why and how they work. It makes research more accessible and therefore can contribute to evidence-informed programming and policy decisions. The primary audience for these briefs is professionals, including UNICEF staff, who conduct, commission or interpret research and evaluation findings in development contexts to make decisions about policy, programming and advocacy.
This brief considers three different types of evidence synthesis products – namely, systematic reviews (SRs), rapid evidence assessments (REAs) and evidence gap maps (EGMs) – and how they differ and compare in terms of their uses and the time and resources needed for their application. It also provides guidance on how evidence synthesis can contribute to evidence informed decision-making, which is particularly important in the context of UNICEF’s evidence infrastructure and for ensuring that appropriate evidence is considered when making policy and programming decisions.