Using Research Evidence: A Practice Guide, January 2016

This practice guide from the Alliance for Useful Evidence and Nesta's Innovation Skills Team, has been created to help you use research evidence to improve your work.

Research evidence can help you understand what works, where, why and for whom. It can also tell you what doesn’t work, and you can avoid repeating the failures of others by learning from evaluations of unsuccessful programmes.

Evidence also challenges what we might think is common sense. For instance, it may sound like a good idea to increase the amount of police on the streets to reduce crime or to reduce classroom sizes – but the evidence doesn’t necessarily support this.

Whether it’s in a police station, a school classroom or the boardroom of a charity, evidence can help you make better decisions. It is helpful not only in frontline service-delivery, but also in creating smarter organisations – charities, local authorities, government departments – and in developing national policies or charity campaigns.

We have created this guide to point you on the right path to finding what evidence might help you. It should help to build your confidence in understanding and using research, and to think about how you might go on to evaluate your own work.

This guide is designed to help you:

  • Learn about evidence-informed decision-making, and why research is an essential element of it.
  • Understand the different scenarios when using evidence can help you, as well as the types of evidence you might need at different stages of development.
  • Explore different types of evidence, how to choose the most appropriate and how to judge its quality.
  • Get advice on finding the right evidence to support your case, and how to get your message across once you have it.

 

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