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Our objective is to describe how software engineering might benefit from an evidence-based approach and to identify the potential difficulties associated with the approach. We compared the organisation and technical infrastructure supporting evidence-based medicine (EBM) with the situation in software engineering. We considered the impact that factors peculiar to software engineering (i.e. the skill factor and the lifecycle factor) would have on our ability to practice evidence-based software engineering (EBSE). EBSE promises a number of benefits by encouraging integration of research results with a view to supporting the needs of many different stakeholder groups. However, we do not currently have the infrastructure needed for widespread adoption of EBSE. The skill factor means software engineering experiments are vulnerable to subject and experimenter bias. The lifecycle factor means it is difficult to determine how technologies will behave once deployed. Software engineering would benefit from adopting what it can of the evidence approach provided that it deals with the specific problems that arise from the nature of software engineering.