FAQs

Alliance FAQs

The Alliance for Useful Evidence was launched in October 2011 to bring together a diverse community of individuals and organisations to increase the use of evidence in social policy. Our ambition is to provide a focal point for the evidence agenda, fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing and debate to help make the most of the excellent work already underway to raise the quality of both the supply of research and the demand for it.

What is the Alliance for Useful Evidence?
Why is the Alliance for Useful Evidence needed?
What do we define as evidence?
What do we mean by evidence based policy and practice?
What policy areas does the Alliance focus on?
Does the Alliance have a set of standards or kitemarks for what is good evidence?
How does the Alliance link in with other initiatives in this area, clinic including the ‘what works centres’?
How do I join the Alliance for Useful Evidence?
How can I contact the Alliance?

What is the Alliance for Useful Evidence?
The Alliance for Useful Evidence is an open access, virtual network of individuals and organisations from academia, government, third sector, think tanks, service providers, practitioners, and more – with a commitment to developing the evidence base to ensure decision making across our public services draws upon the most effective approaches and solutions. You can find out more on the About us page.

Why is the Alliance for Useful Evidence needed?
The idea that policy and practice should be underpinned by rigorous evidence is internationally accepted, yet billions of pounds are spent every year on social policies and 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 across all areas of social policy and practice.
We need to ensure that evidence is commissioned and carried out 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 legitimate for any members of the public, government and others to be ignorant of it.

What do we define as evidence?
The Alliance takes a deliberately inclusive view of evidence, encompassing anything from research and evaluation studies, to administrative data, expert knowledge and stakeholder consultations, and potentially even data from social media (see blog on using social media as evidence). We do not advocate any particular method or research discipline, as long as they are robust, unbiased, and appropriate for the question(s) being asked by decision makers.

What do we mean by evidence based policy and practice?
We use a broad definition of evidence based policy and practice, whereby good evidence is put to the forefront by those designing or implementing a policy or intervention to inform the decisions that they make. This does not mean cherry picking the evidence that supports their views, or fits in with their design, but considering all of the available evidence. For a more in depth view of this topic see Sandra Nutley’s book ‘Using Evidence: How research can inform public services’ 2007

What policy areas does the Alliance focus on?
The main focus of the Alliance is on social policy and practice, however we believe in learning from across policy domains- from international development to environmental policy, from transport to schools, and from other areas who are further on in the evidence based practice journey, such as medicine. See the video of our event that looked at what social policy can learn from science.

Does the Alliance have a set of standards or kitemarks for what is ‘good’ evidence?
We are not a quality assurance agency, and do not currently have a set of standards or kitemarks for ‘good’ evidence, we do however provide a forum for people to discuss and debate the issues surrounding standards of evidence. We ran a seminar on this topic in November 2012, watch the video of the event, and read the provocation paper from Sandra Nutley.

How does the Alliance link in with other initiatives in this area, including the ‘What Works centres’?
The Alliance is currently independent of the Cabinet office ‘What Works initiative’ however we hope to engage with the centres, and work closely with them in championing evidence based practice.

How do I join the Alliance for Evidence?
Membership is free and open to any individual or organisation with an interest in making evidence used and useable. To sign up, simply follow the link at the top of this page, which will take you to a registration form.
Members will receive priority invitations to the programme of events, newsletters, reports and publications published by the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the wider network.

How can I contact the Alliance?
If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, then we’d love to hear from you. Please email us on [email protected]. We are a small team and will endeavor to get back to you as soon as we can.