Articles Why we prize the use of evidence

Why we prize the use of evidence

For the third time, the Alliance for Useful Evidence is pleased to be partnering with the Political Studies Association on their Annual Awards, to celebrate the successful use of evidence in policy-making. Nominations are now open for the Best Use of Evidence Award, which will recognise a UK publicly elected official or politician who’s made a policy decision clearly based on what a body of evidence demonstrates is the best course of action.

Last year’s winner was Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes, and formerly a GP, recognised for her scrupulous and effective defence of the NHS as Chair of the Health Select Committee.  She based her defence on research, evaluation, public accounts data, and economic, medical and health studies – bravely challenging government ministers in the process. On receiving the award Dr Wollaston said: “I’m absolutely delighted to receive this award. In an era of fake news, it is more important than ever for parliamentarians to pay attention to evidence. The credit however, should go to all who work tirelessly to gather and evaluate the evidence in the first place, and to the PSA for highlighting why it matters.

Jonathan Breckon presents award to Dr Sarah Wollaston MP
Jonathan Breckon presents the Best Use of Evidence award to Dr Sarah Wollaston MP at last year’s event

This award, and others such as the Civil Service’s Use of Evidence Award and the John Maddox prize, reward the efforts of those who make a conscientious choice to be evidence-informed, even when it’s not the easy path to take.

And it’s not just an excuse for us to get dressed up and have a good time at an awards ceremony. In the Alliance-led project The Science of Using Science, we found promising evidence from the social sciences for the effectiveness of rewards and incentives, together with social marketing techniques, to change behaviour. By highlighting and celebrating the use of evidence by professionals and public figures we can help to create a culture where it becomes a norm.  

So if you think there’s a politician or elected official in any part of the UK who has used evidence well, go ahead and let us know! You’ll be helping to encourage and motivate others to do the same.

Nominations for the Political Studies Association Awards, Best Use of Evidence category are open until 20 August.  Anyone in the Alliance for Useful Evidence network may make a nomination using this form.  The following are eligible to be nominated:

  • Members of the UK Parliament (House of Commons or House of Lords)
  • Members of the devolved UK institutions (Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly)
  • UK Local Government Councillors
  • Police and Crime Commissioners (England and Wales)
  • Elected Mayors (England and Wales)

Winners will be announced on 27 November 2018.  Eligibility criteria and full details can be found on the PSA website.