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Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre)

Developing methods to bring together research evidence to inform important questions in policy, practice and research.

Founding Director: Professor Ann Oakley
Director: Professor David Gough

The Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre) was created in 1995 and is part of the Social Science Research Unit (SSRU) in the Department of Social Science.

We study both methods of research synthesis and use of research evidence. Our work includes:

  • developing methods for reviewing research literature systematically, including mixed method multicomponent reviews and stakeholder engagement in the review process
  • collaborating and co-authoring with researchers new to systematic reviewing to develop their methodological skills
  • authoring systematic reviews across academic disciplines and policy sectors
  • developing and maintaining EPPI-Reviewer: a comprehensive online software tool for managing and analysing data in for all types of systematic review
  • investigating and developing machine learning and natural language processing technologies to make systematic reviews more efficient
  • studying how research is used in the wider world
  • leading short courses or workshops
  • offering accredited Master's courses
  • supervising doctoral students 
  • authoring methodology papers, a textbook and a four volume library edited collection.

Find out more on the EPPI-Centre website.

About us

Background

Systematic reviews

Reviewing research literature systematically allows important decisions to be informed by a critical assessment of the relevant evidence. Systematic reviews use rigorous and transparent research methods to review the research evidence - to clarify what is known in relation to different research questions. This is in contrast to more traditional literature reviews that do not have explicit methods and so their conclusions may be less reliable.

Reviews (just like all research) vary in terms of the type and breadth of question asked, the paradigm of research, and the specific methods used. While some reviews draw on research to explore a position or develop an argument, others adopt clear and systematic methods to answer an empirical research question. Broad review questions may lead to multi-component reviews with sub-questions addressing different aspects of an issue and using different synthesis methods. 

Areas of review activity

Our centre's first reviews in the 1990s were conducted in the area of health promotion. However, the underlying principles of systematic reviews applies to all types of questions and topic areas and our work now includes reviews in education, social care, public health, employment, crime, religious studies, social and economic development, environmental science and other areas of applied social science.

We have been at the forefront of using methods such as systematic mapping (since 1996), mixed methods multicomponent reviews and thematic synthesis (since 2003) and automation of the review process. We also support other groups by providing reviewing tools (including EPPI-Reviewer software) and collaborate in undertaking specific reviews.

Our pioneering methodology work was reflected in the EPPI-Centre’s status as the Methods for Research Synthesis Node of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.

Research on decision making

The EPPI-Centre also studies the relationship between research and decision-making within an ‘evidence ecosystem’ of: primary research production; synthesis of research; engagement with users of evidence; and the consideration of research evidence in policy, practice and personal decision making.

Our staff

Founding Director

Director of Centre

  • David Gough, Professor of Evidence Informed Policy and Practice

Deputy Director

Associate Directors

Staff

Study with us

Degree courses

Master's degrees

Postgraduate research

We supervise post graduate research study that develops or uses methods in systematic reviewing, research synthesis and the study of the use of research. For more information, please see the Social Science MPhil/PhD.

To discuss proposals for postgraduate study, such as seeking potential supervisors within the EPPI-Centre, please contact individual members of staff or David Gough at david.gough@ucl.ac.uk

Tailored short courses

We are often commissioned to provide tailored short courses on systematic reviews in London or anywhere in the world. For more information, please contact Dr Mark Newman: mark.newman@ucl.ac.uk

See also:

Outputs 

Publications

We develop methodology for systematic research synthesis, undertake syntheses of evidence from various study types, study how research is used, and collaborate with and provide training for external groups and organisations conducting systematic reviews.

Examples of our publications

Systematic reviews textbook

How reviews vary

Stakeholder engagement

Causal chain analysis

Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA)

Mixed methods reviews

Systematic maps

Research on research use

See more

See a full list of publications.

EPPI-Reviewer

EPPI-Reviewer is the EPPI-Centre's comprehensive online software tool for research synthesis. It is a web-based application for managing and analysing data in literature reviews and has been developed for all types of systematic review such as meta-analysis, framework synthesis and thematic synthesis.

It incorporates the latest machine learning and automation technologies, aimed at reducing manual workload, as well as meta-analysis features powered by R software.

EPPI-Reviewer is part of the suite of tools for evidence synthesis used by the Cochrane Collaboration and powers the Evidence Gaps Maps project of the Campbell Collaboration. It can be used for complex types of review, where flexibility and user-driven workflows are a necessity.

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