To effectively improve wellbeing policy and practice should be grounded and informed by good quality, appropriate evidence. This is particularly case now when resources are reducing and public service demand is rising. But there are barriers to the use of evidence, such as time, lack of confidence and missed opportunities to share evidence across borders and between.
Our Evidence into Policy and Practice work explores how jurisdictions, sectors, people and professionals, can work together to produce and use evidence to promote better outcomes for citizens.
Our work began in 2013 with Evidence Exchange survey and a partnership project with Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Alliance for Useful Evidence, encouraging the sharing of social policy evidence across the UK. We maintain a keen interest in possibility of the UK as a ‘policy lab’ and the sharing of evidence and what works across the UK jurisdictions recently asking the question with the Institute for Government has ‘devolution produced successful policy innovation and learning?
Equally, we are passionate about ensuring evidence is useful and therefore champion different types of evidence, depending on the context and purpose. For example, we led on work to consider the implications of the Scottish approach to policy for evidence production and use, and published the Scottish Approach to Evidence.
We reran the Evidence Exchange survey in 2018 and the findings were similar to those of the previous survey, that academic evidence is the most trusted source of evidence, but seldom used (a third of respondents used it). The survey also showed a real appetite for the co-production of evidence between universities and public, private or third sectors. We are responding to this with two strands of work. Firstly, continuing to develop cross sectoral partners across the UK to increase the InterAction between academics and other sectors. In partnership with Newcastle University, we have published a co-creation tool along with a set of videos that include examples of universities, the third sector, business and the public sector – the quadruple helix – working together to co-create knowledge and evidence. Secondly, we are looking at what helps and hinders the co-production of research between researches and individuals, which is one approach to increasing research uptake and use.
We support and encourage universities to work more closely with communities and other sectors in the places they are based. Firstly, we were a member of the Working Group for the Civic University Commission that published the Guide to Preparing Civic University Agreements. Now we co-fund the Civic University Network that provides guidance and peer support to universities that have signed civic university agreements.