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Scientific Knowledge and Rural Policy: A Long-distant Relationship


Corresponding author.


This article examines the extent to which social science evidence is considered by community leaders in small towns and rural areas. It uses secondary analysis of 18 transcriptions from interviews in rural regions within two Canadian provinces to examine what types of support (if any) are used by respondents to justify their claims and assess the extent to which they depend on systematically collected and analysed evidence. The results indicate that the respondents seldom provided justification for their claims and when they did, scientific evidence was infrequently used. Instead, the respondents most often used examples from their personal experience or public meetings as support. Comparative analysis of the two rural region showed that the pattern of support was different in each – with respondents from British Columbia (BC) relying more on personal examples and those from Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) relying more on public presentations or the internet. The results suggest that much work needs to be done to make social science evidence available and useful to those in small towns and rural places. According to those results, the most strategic way to begin is through existing networks, community groups, and local examples.