Data and Methods, Evidence Exchange, Research Skills

Championing Evidence

The Alliance for Useful Evidence is an open-access network of more than 2,000 individuals from across government, universities, charities, business and local authorities in the UK and internationally. It was established by Nesta, ESRC and Big Lottery Fund to champion the use of evidence in social policy and practice. We’re grateful to be hosted by WISERD in Wales.

Calls for more evidence-based policy and practice can sound cliched. Who, after all, would argue for evidence-free policy? But it’s not something we can take for granted. As many academics will be aware, the journey from publishing research evidence to informing practice is not always an easy one.

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The Alliance supports researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to overcome this. We publish resources, create spaces for debate and networking and encouraging innovation. As well as calling on public bodies and charities to use evidence, we help them to do this through the Evidence Masterclass and webinars. Our next webinar will be exploring standards of evidence. It’s fully booked, but don’t worry, you can reserve your place for the next one now.

Our Evidence Exchange project, which started in 2014, encourages organisations to share, use and demand evidence from different parts of the UK. Devolution has created a natural laboratory for social policy, with different nations taking different approaches to tackling shared challenges. By sharing learning on what has and hasn’t worked elsewhere, policy makers and practitioners in each nation can can speed up the development of more effective solutions. Research by Evidence Exchange co-funders Carnegie UK Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that, whilst there is interest in exchanging evidence, it still isn’t happening. The project aims to change this.

The Evidence Exchange project has also enabled us to explore how evidence is being used in different parts of the UK. The Alliance will shortly publish a paper on the context for social policy evidence exchange in the UK. Worryingly, the debates on using and demanding evidence appear less well developed in Wales than other parts of the UK. A relatively small proportion of our membership is based in Wales and attendance by Wales-based organisations at webinars and events has been relatively low.

We are now looking to work with a range of partners to increase the demand for and use of good evidence in social policy and practice in Wales. Please get in touch if you want to discuss further.

If you care about evidence, join the Alliance for free today.


About the author: Anna Nicholl is the current director of Engino. She has over 13 years’ experience of working in public policy and management in Wales. She has worked in government and politics, including as a Special Adviser of the Welsh Government (2008-2011), and in the third sector at senior management level. Her recent consultancy work has included policy, research and project development for a range of clients including the Welsh Local Government Association, Sustrans Cymru, UK Changing Union and Tomorrow’s Wales. She has also acted as an Associate of the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

 

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