Doctor Recommended: Systematic Evidence Evaluation to arrive at the best decision

Systematic reviews originally emerged in the field of medical science to synthesize and evaluate all available evidence to arrive at the best (most informed) decision.  This process, which brings together information from a range of sources and disciplines, also plays an important role in informing debates and decisions on forests and environment.  With a view to improving forest policy and practice, the online course “Systematic Evidence Evaluation on Forest Landscape Restoration” was organized as a collaboration between IUFRO’s Special Programme for Development of Capacities (IUFRO-SPDC) and Oxford Systematic Reviews (OXSREV), from March 22nd-26th, 2021.

The course introduced good practice guidelines on finding, selecting, and assessing evidence to minimize bias when reducing large quantities of information into palatable pieces for digestion by decision makers. The format included a combination of lectures, videos, quizzes, polls, and interactive ‘breakout’ sessions (for group work), to create a supportive, stimulating learning environment and to help develop the necessary skills and methods for systematic evidence evaluation. Participants learned the importance of question framing to address policy and practice concerns; how to develop, carry out, and validate a robust search strategy; screen records for relevance; and extract and code data. Participants presented the results of their group work in a series of mini presentations that simulated the production of a systematic evidence evaluation Protocol.

The diverse group of participants enriched the learning experience by providing perspectives from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. All attendees were able to participate in the course for free, thanks to generous financial contributions from the US Forest Service.

Reflection by Madhulika Bhati, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (CSIR–NISTAD), New Delhi, India.

IUFRO-SPDC offered an extra session “Making the most of virtual interactions” to facilitate networking among participants and exchange knowledge on platforms for online meetings, seminars, large events, teamwork, and networking, as well as tips and tools for hosting interactive online events.

Participants were very engaged in the course and sent positive feedback and suggestions for future courses. We congratulate them all for the successful and active participation!

More information about this course:

More information on IUFRO-SPDC Training Workshops (please check this site from time to time for upcoming training opportunities):

IUFRO’s support to forest science in economically disadvantaged countries is implemented via the IUFRO Special Programme for Development of Capacities: