Powerful voices are currently insisting that policy and practice must be based on research evidence, and that social science inquiry should be reformed in order to serve this need more effectively. An influential figure in the evidence-based practice movement is Sir Iain Chalmers, previously director of the UK Cochrane Centre. Taking evidence-based medicine as his model, he presents the task of research as to determine which policies and practices work. This is to be achieved through the use of randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews of their results. In this article, some of the central assumptions of his case are assessed.
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