Newsletter: December 2014   
Call to action: 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.

Deadline for contributions to the Alliance's response: 11th December 2014.
Launch of the new What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Following the Alliance for Useful Evidence event in May, Lord Gus O ‘Donnell announced on 29th October that a new What Works Centre for Wellbeing is being set up to bring together evidence about what works to improve wellbeing and to put that evidence into the hands of those that need it to make decisions. The establishment of an independent What Works Centre for Wellbeing builds on the ONS Measuring National Wellbeing Programme and the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy. The Centre joins a network of independent What Works Centres that are responsible for distilling and sharing the evidence to support decision making.  
You can find out more and input into the Centre’s development here.
Consultation by the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods

In 2015, the Centre (NCRM) will be commissioning new methodological research projects. These projects will become formal parts of a geographically distributed Centre and will play a key role in achieving NCRM's strategic objectives. NCRM has just undertaken a consultation of the UK social science research community to identify methodological research areas which are of national strategic need. The results of this consultation will be made public in early Spring 2015. 

Visit NCRM's website to find out more about its work. 
A NICE way for social policy

We're launching our new report 'The NICE Way: Lessons for Social Policy and Practice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence', which we produced in partnership with NICE. Find out about the 5 lessons for using evidence the NICE way that Jonathan Breckon, Head of the Alliance, and one of the report's authors, discovered while writing the report.
Learning from the past: Slough, MinTech and experimental government

Professor Jon Agar writes about this little known (failed) attempt at experimental government. Arguing that it can teach us some important lessons about contemporary attempts to test policies and the disruptive nature of politics. 
What drives evidence ecosystems?

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.
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.
Calling time on 'anecdotal' evidence

Dr Cathy Sharp, Director of Research for Real, argues that research and evaluation reports may provide information and arguments but it's the stories people tell us about their lived experiences that provides the insigths and empathy needed for action. 
Data, data everywhere but which are most reliable? The role of the UK Data Service

Find out more about this free, online, resource and its role supporting empirical knowledge.
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