Advocacy support resources

The following guidance documents, resources and training materials from Cochrane may be useful as you plan and carry out advocacy work.

If there is anything further that would help support this work, we would love to hear about it. Please contact Emma Thompson.

Deciding which advocacy opportunities to pursue

There are many different topics and causes for which Cochrane could advocate, though it is not feasible to dedicate resources to every issue.

We have developed the following criteria as a basis for discussions on whether to pursue advocacy opportunities: 

Does it align with Cochrane’s vision? 
Cochrane’s vision is of a world of improved health where decisions about health and health care are informed by high-quality, relevant and up-to-date synthesized research evidence. Will working on this topic realistically help advance this mission? 

Does it relate to Cochrane’s expertise? 
Cochrane is not, primarily, an advocacy or lobbying organization. Our acknowledged strength and expertise are in the production of high-quality synthesized evidence. Our advocacy work should build on this and use our strapline – ‘Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.’ – as its focus. If evidence synthesis is not already at the heart of the issue in question, could it be applied: e.g., calling for decisions on a topic to be based on high-quality evidence synthesis? 

Does it have potential to advance the quality of evidence synthesis? 
The production of high-quality evidence synthesis is Cochrane’s core function. Advocacy work on issues that could lead to improvements in the quality of evidence synthesis, or make the review production process more effective, could therefore bring about benefits internally as well as externally. 

Is it a topic where Cochrane can make a difference/add value? 
It should be considered whether Cochrane’s perspective and expertise, as an organization that specializes in high-quality evidence synthesis, will make a difference to a cause or add value. Is Cochrane the right organization to work on this issue? Is this already an overcrowded area? At the same time, not being vocal about an issue could lead to criticism or cost future opportunities, so this risk should also be considered. 

How likely are advocacy efforts to be successful? 
Some advocacy work may provide ‘quick wins’, where it is relatively easy to achieve impact with minimal effort; whereas other initiatives will involve long-term commitment and engagement with a variety of stakeholders and short- or medium-term success may not be as realistic. Before deciding to engage in each piece of advocacy work, the likelihood of success should be considered against the importance of the issue. 

Does it link to existing work at Cochrane? 
Advocacy should complement and support other work taking place within Cochrane. Does this issue intersect with other organizational policies or priorities: e.g., the Knowledge Translation Framework, the Content Strategy or the Multilingual Strategy? Is there opportunity to collaborate with other parts of the organization to work towards a shared goal? 

Does Cochrane have capacity to work on this issue? 
Capacity should be a key deciding factor for advocacy activities. We need to consider when activity on an issue will take place and any associated deadlines; what is likely to be the project length; the level of involvement needed from Cochrane; and who will need to contribute (e.g., Central Executive Team (CET) staff, organizational leadership, Cochrane Groups) and their capacities. 

Is it evidence-based, or can we highlight evidence gaps? 
Throughout any advocacy work or policy outcome we intend to pursue, we must ask ourselves about the evidence supporting a statement or piece of work. At the same time, we should consider whether there are significant gaps in evidence that Cochrane could help call attention to. In addition, is there evidence that this is an area of need for advocacy?

Download these criteria as a decision-making template (Word doc).

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