Who we are

The Alliance for Useful Evidence is a network, hosted by the UK’s innovation charity Nesta, that champions the smarter use of evidence in social policy and practice.

We do this through advocacy, convening events, sharing ideas and resources, and supporting individuals and organisations through advice and training.

We promote our work through our open access network of more than 3,500 individuals from across government, universities, charities, businesses, and local authorities in the UK and internationally. Anyone can join the Alliance network, at no cost.

What are we doing?

We champion and support the smarter use of evidence in social policy and practice through three core activities:

1. Research and ideas

We produce research, discussion papers, guides, and case studies, and monitor evidence-use by government and politicians. We convene small groups on specialist topics in roundtables, as well as large conferences and summits, to encourage debate, discussion, collaboration and innovation, and to share insights on what works (and what doesn’t).

2. Training and skills

We deliver a range of training courses and workshops, from our flagship Evidence Masterclass, to more bespoke strategic support such as our theory of change workshops. We also offer free downloadable resources, including the heavily downloaded Using Research Evidence practice guide.

3. Advice and advocacy

We always work with others – with champions, partners and allies. We collaborate to campaign for the better use of research, evidence, evaluation and data to inform social policies and programmes – for example, on Manifesto Checks for political parties, Evidence Transparency in Government, and a Best Use of Evidence Prize for Politicians – and we advise organisations on how to use evidence effectively.

Why are we doing this?

The idea that social policy and practice should be underpinned by rigorous evidence is internationally accepted, yet billions of pounds are spent each year on programmes with little rigorous evidence on the impacts of these initiatives. And despite decades of producing excellent research, we still encounter problems of getting this integrated into decision-making.

Appropriate evidence can help us understand what people need from services and interventions, and focus resources on what works. We need to ensure that evidence is commissioned and produced in ways that make it more likely to be used and useful; and we need to work with the users of evidence to make it easier for them to act on what’s known.

We recognise that even the best evidence can be imperfect or incomplete, but it’s no longer excusable for decision makers in government, the public and voluntary sectors, or the media to be ignorant of it.

Below are some of the scenarios where evidence can help policymakers and practitioners to make better-informed decisions, taken from our practice guide:

Reasons for needing evidence

Why join the Alliance?

Alliance membership is free and open to everyone. When you join our network, you’ll get:

  • A regular newsletter sharing our latest news and activities.
  • Invitations to Alliance events, conferences, and networking socials, giving you the chance to connect and collaborate with other members of our diverse network.
  • Priority notice of the latest publications, tools and resources.
  • The opportunity to be included on our Evidence Map – an online directory of organisations in the UK evidence ecosystem.
  • Opportunities for professional development, enhancing capability and skills across organisations in the public and social sectors, via our Evidence Masterclasses.
  • Opportunities to apply to become a Strategic Partner or Evidence Champion, supporting organisations and individuals to amplify evidence use.

Want to join us? Sign up here.

Got a question?

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at Alliance.4UsefulEvidence@nesta.org.uk or get in touch via the details below.

 

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Our approach

  • We’re an alliance, not a centre. We believe no single organisation alone can deliver the change we want to see, but a thriving evidence ecosystem is needed.
  • We always work with others. Our deep relationships with partners help us to understand the real world of evidence use, and share what we have learned. We’re not a passive think tank, we work side-by-side with policymakers, practitioners and other allies.
  • We’re not sector specific. We work with partners and allies from across different sectors, from charities to local government, policing to social work, in the UK and internationally. We believe in collaborating and learning from each other.
  • We take our own medicine. We use an evidence-informed approach to guide the work we do, and strive to keep on learning and improving. For example, we’ve used models and behavioural insights highlighted in our project, the Science of Using Science, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, to shape areas of our own strategy. This includes appointing ‘evidence champions’ to promote the use of evidence in their own organisations, and developing a prize with the Political Studies Association for the best use of evidence by politicians.
  • We focus on what works. We champion the smarter use of evidence, with the ultimate aim of creating policies, services and decisions that will positively impact communities.