Following evidence from production to use at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: where does it all go?
Keywords: citation analysis, network analysis, actor-network theory, evidence, evidence use, humanitarian aid, development
AbstractMost 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.
Copyright (c) 2019 William Walker Hankey, Gabriel Pictet
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.The copyright of the articles published in this journal remains the property of the authors. For liability reasons, the title belongs to the Foundation for the Support of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal. The journal is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License. This journal is currently an open access journal as it has a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access. From the BOAI definition  of "open access", we support the rights of users to "read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles." However, some of the content (2009-2012) is only available on the Taylor and Francis website. Within the next few months, this issue too will become available on the OJS.  http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm#openaccess