Methods of knowledge synthesis in Eklipse

A key strength of Eklipse is its focus on using the best methods of knowledge synthesis to address every request. This improves the transparency and reliability of its syntheses. Diverse methods exist, and vary in their suitability for particular contexts, through factors such as risk of bias, resource requirements, types of knowledge that can be synthesized and capacity for participation. The Methods Expert Group (MEG) advises and guides Expert Working Groups (EWG) on the use of methods in a request. Eklipse requests have used a variety of methods such as systematic review, scoping review, multiple expert consultation with Delphi process, joint fact-finding, focus groups and structured decision-making.

Eklipse resources on methods

Report and guidance notes

Choosing the right method of knowledge synthesis for policy can be challenging. Syntheses are often constrained by time limitations and the challenges of using unfamiliar methods. Eklipse has developed a number of resources to aid this process.

The MEG has produced a report ‘Knowledge synthesis on environmental decisions‘ covering the range of different available methods for knowledge synthesis. The report covers 21 existing methods, together with advice on their selection, use and development. It describes these methods with their strengths and weaknesses and provides key references and examples of where a method has been used for policy decisions. For the overall context, we recommend reading the complete report.

Below are links to the individual description of these methods:

  1. Bayesian belief networks
  2. Causal criteria analysis
  3. Collaborative adaptive management
  4. Discourse analysis
  5. Expert consultation
  6. Focus groups
  7. Joint fact-finding
  8. Meta-analysis
  9. Multi-criteria decision analysis
  10. Multiple expert consultation + Delphi process
  11. Participatory mapping
  12. Non-systematic literature reviews
  13. Rapid evidence assessment
  14. Scenario analysis
  15. Scoping review
  16. Solution scanning
  17. Structured decision-making
  18. Subject-wide evidence synthesis
  19. Systematic map
  20. Systematic review
  21. Vote counting (not recommended)

Of these, we recommend the use of 20 methods, which meet the following criteria for inclusion:

  • Capable of synthesizing at least one of the main types of knowledge.
  • Well-defined and applied in international scientific literature.
  • Applicable to inform decisions at the science-policy interface.
  • Distinct from all other included methods.

The exception is vote-counting, a commonly used approach which we do not recommend.

MAGICKS – choosing a method

Eklipse has also developed MAGICKS (Method Application and Guidance In Conducting Knowledge Syntheses) to help guide the process of choosing a method of knowledge synthesis. MAGICKS includes a subset of 18 methods suitable for a wide range of contexts, as Eklipse requests have shown. Two methods (3: collaborative adaptive management; 16: Solution scanning) were not considered generic enough to be included, because they serve very specific purposes. MAGICKS is an open-source, interactive decision support tool that draws on the work of the MEG in collating and classifying methods. It is suitable for use in a variety of policy and management settings and Eklipse encourages you to explore its potential for your synthesis needs. MAGICKS is accessible HERE ; please contact us to request a password. We also welcome feedback on its performance. A scientific article describing MAGICKS is currently in preparation.