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CLEAR's mission is to make research on labor topics more accessible to practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and the public more broadly so that it can inform their decisions about labor policies and programs. CLEAR identifies and summarizes many types of research, including descriptive, implementation, and impact studies. In addition, CLEAR assesses the quality of research that looks at the effectiveness of particular policies and programs.

CLEAR's Process

  1. Identify topic areas of interest to policymakers, administrators, and other stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels.
  2. Work with content experts to develop research questions within the topic areas and search the literature for research addressing those questions.
  3. Maintain a searchable citation database of all the research identified.
  4. Create highlights capturing the main features of each report and journal article.
  5. Produce more detailed profiles for research that has the highest potential to help practitioners implement a program or provide evidence of effectiveness.
  6. Synthesize the research across studies within a topic area, highlight gaps in the literature, and suggest areas in which further research is needed.

For more details about this process, please read CLEAR's Policies and Procedures. If you have suggestions, need help, or would like to ask a question, please Contact CLEAR.

Evidence Ratings for Causal Studies

CLEAR conducts a review for each study in the database, as all the studies provide information that is useful for various purposes and users. In addition, CLEAR provides causal evidence ratings for those studies, or components of studies, that are intended to estimate the causal impact of a particular policy, intervention, program, or approach. CLEAR has three evidence ratings for causal studies. Each reflects CLEAR's confidence in the study’s ability to estimate causal impacts. For more information on these evidence ratings, please see the evidence guidelines for causal studies.

High Causal Evidence

This means there is strong evidence that the effects estimated in this study are solely attributable to the intervention being examined. This does not necessarily mean that the study found positive impacts, only that the analysis meets high methodological standards and the causal impacts estimated, whether positive, negative, or null, are credible. Currently, only well-implemented randomized controlled trials can receive this rating.

Moderate Causal Evidence

This means there is evidence that the effects estimated in the study are attributable at least in part to the intervention being examined. However, there may be other factors that were not accounted for in the study that might also have contributed. Causal studies that meet CLEAR evidence guidelines for nonexperimental designs (including randomized controlled trials with high attrition) can receive this rating.

Low Causal Evidence

This means there is little evidence that the effects estimated in the study are attributable to the intervention being examined, and other factors are likely to have contributed to the results. This does not imply that the study's results are not useful for some purposes, but they should be interpreted with caution. Causal studies that do not meet criteria for a high or moderate evidence rating receive this rating.

What's In a Profile

CLEAR highlights key features of all the relevant research identified for a given topic area. The highlights contain a concise summary of the:

  1. research question
  2. intervention and setting
  3. data and methods
  4. findings

For research with the highest potential to help practitioners implement a program or provide evidence of effectiveness to policymakers, CLEAR produces a more in-depth research profile.

Profiles expand on the highlights by describing more thoroughly the key features of the program or policy being studied, the context in which the study was conducted, information about the data sources and methods used, and a summary of the main findings.

In addition, profiles of research describing implementation experiences include some key considerations for interpreting the findings. This can help you decide to what extent the findings from the study might apply to your situation.

Finally, profiles of research seeking to determine the effectiveness of a particular program or policy provide a causal evidence rating and an explanation for why the research received the rating. This can help you decide to what extent you want to make decisions based on a particular piece of research.