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Royal Statistical Society’s Data Manifesto

Hetan Shah, Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), introduces the RSS' Data Manifesto. Calling for evidence, and offical statistics to be at the heart of policy making and policy debates, the Manifesto argues for the opening up of government data and improvements in statistical literacy.

Stories or numbers OR stories and numbers

Numbers, argues Professor Trish Greenhalgh, are no more ‘factual’ than stories. The dichotomy between numbers and stories is false, writes Greenhalgh, instead we should recognise that both can be selected and moulded with the aim of constructing a persuasive narrative.

Your chance to vet the Department for Education’s evidence

An open invitation has gone out for comments on the 'strength' of the Department for Education's evidence. Jonathan Breckon, Head of the Alliance for Useful Evidence, explores how the 'strength' of evidence can be judged and how you can submit your response - as an individual or by contributing to the Alliance's. Deadline for online submissions to the Department: 12th Dec 2014.

What drives evidence systems?

What is the beating heart of a healthy evidence ecosystem? Professor Jonathan Shepherd finds that systems work best when practitioner vocation to improve services coalesces with the capacity to test solutions in rigorous experiments. This is the beating heart of an evidence ecosystem. Separating these elements makes it far more difficult to resolve real service problems and uncertainties.

Rational, not rationing – five lessons from NICE for social policy

Jonathan Breckon, Head of the Alliance for Useful Evidence and joint author of the new report 'The NICE Way: Lessons for social policy and practice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence', sets out the 5 lessons he learnt while writing the report. Arguing that there's plenty for social policy to borrow from the NICE model.

Learning from the past: Slough, MinTech and experimental government

The little known 1960’s ‘Slough Experiment’ was an ambitious – but ultimately failed – attempt at experimental government writes Jon Agar, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at UCL. The plan was for a concentrated ‘industrial experiment’ in Slough. Civil servants and ministers had great hopes for ‘better business through computers, calculation and creative design’. Although it never took off, it teaches us some important lessons about contemporary attempts to test out policies. Warning us of the perils of trying to do too much a once, that politics disrupts, that governments can innovate and that we should learn from the past.

Data, data everywhere but which are most reliable? The role of the UK Data Service

A trusted repository of a wide range of data, the UK Data Service connects those conducting research in the public interest with data collected by range of organisations, including some of the UK’s most prominent data providers writes Professor Matthew Woollard. Read on to find out more about this free, online resource and its role in supporting empirical knowledge.

Calling time on ‘anecdotal’ evidence

A ceasefire may have been declared in the paradigm wars but ideas about what counts as real evidence runs deep argues Dr Cathy Sharp, Director of Research for Real. We lose too many chances to learn about what matters when stories of lived experience, that can cut to the heart of the issues, are discounted. Research and evaluation reports, Sharp argues, provide information and argument but stories provide insight and the empathy needed for action.

A professional probation workforce – the role for the Probation Institute

Current reforms to the probation services will see the creation of two communities of probation workers. The new Probation Institute, writes Savas Hadjipavlou, Director and Interim Chief Executive of the Probation Institute, will act as a centre of excellence and offer the leadership needed to help strengthen the profession.

Believe in evidence? Then support demand

Portraying decision makers as mindless consumers does them a disservice and fails to drive a cultural change in evidence use writes Kirsty Newman, Head of the Evidence into Action Team at the UK Department of International Development. Effective demand is shaped by capacity, incentives and systems and, argues Newman, by focusing on these three factors suppliers of evidence can influence how their evidence is understood and used.

A Labour government in 2015: what role for evidence?

In the first in a series of blogs David Walker, the Academy of Social Sciences’ Head of Policy, asks how could Labour’s strong record on evidence translate if 2015 results in a Labour government? He argues that there are positive indicators but Ed Miliband’s government will need to be lobbied if we want them to think seriously about the role of evidence in government.

Zombie facts and the use of evidence in the 2015 General Election

The 2015 General Election will see the growth of fact-checking, according to participants in our recent roundtable. Ground-breaking innovative fact checking initiatives will make journalists, politicians and the public twice about their claims, writes Jonathan Breckon, Head of the Alliance. Their cause is simple in theory: check the evidence behind claims made by politicians. See if they are wrong - or right - or somewhere in the middle. Then tell everybody their finding via blogs, the web and Twitter.

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