WikiJournal Preprints/Guidance for planning, reporting and evaluating initiatives: A multidisciplinary scoping review

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Authors: Jack Nunn[a][i] , Jack Nunn

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  1. Director of Science for All (charity), Department of Public Health La Trobe University



The principles of involvement in research and other interventions (and associated methodologies such as participatory action research and citizen science) are the same across all fields (health research, health technology assessment, environmental research, basic research, community based participatory research and educational research), information about initiatives and their impacts is not consistently reported across disciplines. Additionally, the linguistic variation between terms such as ‘involvement’, ‘engagement’ and ‘participation’ makes it difficult to conduct systematic comparisons of how people have been involved in initiatives, and any impacts. Standardised Data on Initiatives has been identified as one solution to standardised data about initiatives. However, before attempting to create a multi-disciplinary solution, it is important to map the current variation across disciplines for planning, reporting and evaluating initiatives. Methods The design of this scoping review was informed by the guidance on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) Checklist for this scoping review. Multiple information sources were included in the search. These included, EBSCOhost Research Databases, Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, CINAHL, Education Research Complete, ERIC, MEDLINE, MEDLINE (with Full Text). Any information source which included information about how an initiative was planned, reported or evaluated was initially included as ‘guidance’, before being screened for relevance. Initiatives were included if they described an action, intervention, project or other kind of participatory process. Results and discussion An initial 20,868 results were refined and screened by two authors (SS, JN), with a sample checked by a third author (TBC). A total of 529 were selected for inclusion, with sources included from multiple disciplines. Guidance on planning, reporting and evaluating initiatives exists across disciplines, with most (X%?) being health research and some (X%) being environmental research. For initiatives which span disciplines, it is often not clear which methods of planning, reporting and evaluation are most appropriate, for example, an initiative to reduce air pollution to improve public health would span the disciplines of public health, environmental studies, policy and potentially education. The variation in language and associated concepts makes cross discipline comparison of methods extremely difficult and almost impossible to do in a systematic way. Conclusions Guidance on reporting, planning and evaluating initiatives is varied across disciplines. Many disciplines which share common methodologies use inconsistent language to describe similar methods, tasks and communication modes. There is an urgent need to create standardised reporting of data about initiatives, including consistent terminology to describe planning, consistent terminology for reporting (including reporting impacts and outcomes) and consistent ways of sharing data in order to evaluate initiatives across disciplines. Additionally, terminology needs to be consistently translated between human languages to facilitate machine learning. The findings of this review support the continued co-creation of the proposed reporting tool ‘Standardised Data on Initiatives (STARDIT)1.

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