Synthesizing knowledge of a topic

little is known to this is known
Breaking through the disciplinary barrier with practical mapping
In this October 2019 guest post on SAGE Methodspace, Steven E. Wallis and Bernadette Wright describe how evaluators can use practical mapping to integrate knowledge across and between disciplines, to support effective action.

Real-world problems—such as poverty, justice, and health—have many causes. Issues are worsened or improved by political, economic, and technological factors, to name a few. So, to solve these issues, we need knowledge from many disciplines.

Read the article at SAGE Methodspace

Getting to evidence-based policy: three perspectives

In this April 2016 article in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR), Bernadette Wright describes “Why researchers and practitioners are shifting away from expensive new studies toward the effective synthesis of existing research.” The article compares three approaches to basing our policies and programs on evidence: 1) evidence registries, 2) evidence syntheses, and 3) knowledge maps.

Integrating findings from relevant studies into a map, researchers can visualize the understanding developed in each study, where studies agree, and where each study adds new understanding. This lets stakeholders quickly assess choices for action, including trade-offs, alternative options, and potential consequences.

Read the article at

5 places to find valuable research

In Part 4 of her series of CharityChannel articles on “Six steps to effective program evaluation,” Bernadette Wright discusses the step of reviewing related research. The article describes five places to find valuable related research.

Given the many benefits, you might wonder why people don’t always check what past studies have found before testing a new solution with people.

Read the article at

“Little Is Known?” Better Using Background Research

In this February 2016 guest post on the American Evaluation Association’s AEA365 blog, Bernadette Wright describes a new approach to integrating your background research for your evaluation. The approach uses integrative propositional analysis (IPA) to rigorously assess, visualize, and integrate theories.

I’ve seen that many program evaluation reports include short “background research” sections that quickly decide “little is known.” At the same time, a myriad of evaluations and related studies have created a vast and growing storehouse of information that is often overlooked.

Read the article on aea365

Reviewing related research (R3) workbook (31 pages)

Reviewing related research (R3) workbook cover


This workbook is a tool that you can use to plan a rigorous and useful review of related research (R3). This workbook includes:

    • Seven step-by-step, fill-in-the-blank worksheets
    • The nine steps to a useful review of related research (R3)
    • Real-world examples

You’ll also get a reading list for more information on reviewing related research.

This workbook will be of value to:

  • Managers and grant proposal writers who want to show the research base supporting their activities
  • Researchers and program evaluators who are reviewing background research as a part of a larger study
  • Researchers who are conducting a systematic review of research as a stand-alone study
  • Graduate students who are reviewing the related research to support their thesis or dissertation