7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Using Network Analysis to Explore the Evidence Used in Policy
2020-12-03, 13:10–13:25, Zoom Breakout Room 3

Evidence-based policy is now a standard approach to policy-making. However, decolonising and critical scholarship highlights that evidence is not neutral – that there are particular kinds of knowledge, knowledge-holders, and ways of knowing that are valued and influential. This complicates the seemingly objective approach of evidence-based policy. It also points to the importance of attending more critically to the evidence policy-makers use to construct policy. This presentation opens up a conversation about a potentially useful method to interrogate the evidence used to justify policy positions – bibliographic network analysis. Bibliographic analyses can map the network of evidence underlying a body of publications – in this case, policy documents. These analyses can visualise and quantify the relationships between different sources of evidence and the policies that utilise them. In doing so, bibliometric analyses can help to understand who, and what concepts and theories, have been influential in constructing a policy position. This presentation reports on a pilot bibliographic network analysis of NSW and Queensland child protection policies directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families – discussing the cited sources of evidence that have been most influential in these policies and implications for policy. The presentation will also consider the strengths and weaknesses of the bibliographic network analysis method generally, its relevance to decolonising methodologies, and its potential applications in social research more broadly.

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