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Oxford Martin Restatements

Oxford Martin Restatements review the natural science evidence base underlying areas of current policy concern and controversy. 

Written in policy neutral terms and designed to be read by an informed but not technically specialist audience, restatements reflect the breadth of opinion on the topic in the science community and involve wide consultation with interested stakeholders. The final restatement is peer-reviewed prior to publication.

Philosophy behind the restatements project

Most policymakers aim to make “evidence-based” decisions but in many areas the evidence base is complex, technical and very difficult for non-specialists to access. This is especially true in contested areas where collecting the evidence is scientifically challenging, and different advocacy groups may interpret the same information in different ways.

Restatements attempt to summarise the evidence base in a way that is helpful to policymakers. The initial projects have dealt with natural  science topics.

Restatements:

  • Attempt to be as policy neutral as possible
  • Are written to be comprehensible for an informed but non-technical reader
  • Provide an introduction to the more technical literature

Topics for Restatements are chosen after discussion with policymakers, and today are largely suggested, for example by science advisors working in government. 

The Restatements projects are funded by the Oxford Martin School.  They involve consultation with a very broad community (for example researchers, industry, NGOs and government) but are run independently of any stakeholder.

What does a Restatement contain?

Restatements consist of three parts

  • A very short paper introducing the topic.
  • The Restatement, formally the appendix of the paper (this format is required so that the Restatement is formally published as a peer-reviewed paper in the scientific literature).  The Restatement itself is a series of paragraphs numbered for ease of reference, and is intended to be a standalone summary of the evidence base.
  • An annotated bibliography, arranged using the same paragraph numbers as the Restatement, providing further technical detail to which a policymaker might need access, and extensive references to the literature underlying the information in the Restatement.

Not all evidence is equivalent and to help policymakers assess what we know about the different parts of the evidence base, each component of the Restatement is classified using a set of descriptive codes derived from those used in medicine and climate change science.  These are adapted to the particular topic of the Restatement, but as an example these are codes used in the Restatement on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) epidemiology:

[Data] A strong evidence base involving experimental studies or field data collection on bTB with appropriate detailed statistical or other quantitative analysis.

[Exp_op] A consensus of expert opinion extrapolating results from other disease systems and well-established epidemiological principles.

[Supp_ev] Some supporting evidence exists but further work would substantially improve the evidence base.

[Projns] Projections based on available evidence for which substantial uncertainty exists that could affect outcomes.

How we produce a Restatement

After a topic is chosen this is how we go about producing the Restatement

  • We convene an author group of 6-10 people. They are scientists based at universities and/or research organisations, and are chosen to represent different scientific points of view on a contested topic.
  • The Restatement team prepare the first draft and the author group meet to go through the document, paragraph by paragraph.
  • After the meeting the Restatement is revised and successive versions iterated with the author group until everyone is content.
  • The Restatement is sent out to review to a large number of stakeholders (30-50 typically) including other researchers, relevant experts working in industry and NGOs, and policymakers.
  • The Restatement is revised in the light of these comments, and the near-final version iterated with the author team.
  • The Restatement is submitted to a peer-reviewed open access journal.
  • The author group make final amendments in the light of referees’ comments.

For further information please email restatements@oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk

Completed Restatements

Catchment-based “natural” flood management in the United Kingdom

More Information and Downloads

Appendix with embedded references

Led by:

  • Simon Dadson School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • Jim W. Hall School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

Authors:

  • Anna Murgatroyd School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford
  • Mike Acreman Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford 
  • Paul Bates School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
  • Keith Beven Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
  • Louise Heathwaite Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University
  • Joseph Holden School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • Ian P. Holman Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University
  • Stuart N. Lane Faculté des géosciences et de l’environnement, Université de Lausanne
  • Enda O’Connell School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University
  • Edmund Penning-Rowsell School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford and Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University
  • Nick Reynard Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford
  • David Sear Geography and Environment, University of Southampton
  • Colin Thorne School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham 
  • Rob Wilby Department of Geography, Loughborough University

Impact of neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators – 2015 update

More information & Downloads

Appendix with embedded references

Led by:

Authors:

Impact of neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators

More information & Downloads

Appendix with embedded references

Led by:

Authors:

 

Control of bovine tuberculosis in the United Kingdom

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Appendix with Embedded References

Led by:

Authors:

  • Christl A. Donnelly, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, MRC Centre for Outbreak and Disease Modelling, Imperial College London
  • Rowland R. Kao, Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health, Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow
  • David W. Macdonald, Department of Zoology and WildCRU, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, University of Oxford
  • Robbie A. Macdonald, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter
  • Gillian Petrokofsky Biodiversity Institute Oxford and Oxford Martin School
  • James L. N. Wood Disease Dynamics Unit, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • Rosie Woodroffe Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
  • Douglas B. Young MRC National Institute for Medical Research

Restatements in Progress

A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning the health effects of low-level ionizing radiation

  -- led by Angela McLean

A restatement of the natural science evidence base regarding the impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals on wildlife

  -- led by Charles Godfray

A restatement of the natural science evidence base regarding the human health impacts of the use of antibiotics in food-animal production

  -- led by Angela McLean

A restatement of the natural science evidence base on the origin and transmission dynamics of Campylobacter species causing human disease

  -- led by Matthew Goddard, Lincoln University

For information on the Restatements project, please email restatements@oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk