The Evidence Information Service: Promoting GW4 Research on Evidence-Based Policy

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016, July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Dr Hannah Durrant, Professor Julie Barnett
University of Bristol: Dr Deborah Wilson, Georgina Brereton, Alexia MacDonald
Cardiff University: Dr Andrew Kythreotis, Professor Chris Chambers, Dr Gerard O’Grady
University of Exeter: Dr Natalia Lawrence

Project overview

The overarching aim of this research is to determine the utility and feasibility of establishing a new UK Evidence Information Service (EIS). The primary goal of EIS would be to act as a rapid matchmaker to connect the UK academic community and policy makers (including parliamentarians) in the service of evidence-based public policy.

Further information

We aim to answer the following questions:

  1. How do the UK general public view the EIS as a tool in connecting policy-makers with academics? (WP1)
  2. What do the UK general public see as the main drivers and barriers to implementing evidence-based policy-making in the UK? (WP1)
  3. What are the practical and political implications of establishing the EIS in conjunction with existing parliamentary systems to improve evidence-based policy-making? (WP2)
  4. Will the proposed structure work, and ensure efficient communication between policy-makers and academics?


The GW4 Pay Equality Research Consortium (PERC)

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: May to August 2015 (Initiator) February – August 2016 (Accelerator)

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Dr Susan Milner
University of Bristol: Professor Harriet Bradley, Dr Gregory Schwartz
Cardiff University: Dr Alison Parken, Rhys Davies
University of Exeter: Professor Carol Woodhams, Dr Emma Jeanes

Project overview

By way of background to the project, the UK Government has a stated objective to close the pay gap between men and women to nil by 2035. On 14 July 2015, they launched a consultation on regulations that will make it mandatory for companies with 250 or more employees to and publish their gender pay gap. Implementation is expected in March 2016. Currently the precise details and format of reporting requirements is unclear. It will be the task of organisations such as EHRC, ACAS, the CIPD, the CBI, the TUC and individual unions to advise UK employers on good practice implementation. The timing of our plans puts us in a good position to work in partnership with these bodies and be part of that initiative. The design of the tool will be informed by primary and secondary data from employers and technical experts.

The eventual purpose of the data collection tool is firstly to create a source of confidential and anonymised best-practice pay-gap advice for UK employers and secondly as a research instrument. The research agenda is to collate uploaded data to investigate the intersectional effects of structure, context, and identity in pay inequality. We will address two research gaps; the intersection between gender-based and other forms of disadvantage as “new inequalities emerge and traditional ones diminish” (O’Reilly et al, 2014: 312) and “the link between employer behaviour and the gender-wage gap [which] is a much less well-researched area than sectoral comparisons or economy-wide and cross-national studies” (O’Reilly et al, 2014: 308).

There are four stages to our proposed methodology; a desk-based research stage, an employer liaison stage, a survey stage and a series of review and bid-writing meetings.

  1. This stage will produce an assessment of the research capacity of a salary data collection tool; its potential and its constraints, resulting in a report of the viability and required resources for further funding. The desk research parameters are data security, legal, technical and personnel/ administrative requirements  (1st March 2016 for 2.5 months) lead by Cardiff University Business School
  2. Qualitative interviews (Mid-March to mid-May), Interviews conducted with employers will enable us to understand their level of understanding and engagement with pay inequality and intersectionality, the perceived risks to them in participating in pay inequality research and factors that may facilitate their participation lead by Exeter University Business School in conjunction with Bath University.
  3. Quantitative survey. Stage 3 will comprise a survey of employers. Based on our findings and conclusions from stages 1 and 2, we will test our understandings about methods of access and the legal, institutional, organisational and other barriers to salary data collection on a wider scale. This stage will commence in April 2016 lead by Cardiff University Business School.
  4. Sustainability and development of the consortium. During the first week of each month commencing Feb – July 2016 the six community leaders and the research assistant will meet to ensure the sustainability of GW4 activity and plan the next phase of grant funding. Locations Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff.

The outcomes of each stage (corresponding to the above) are:

  1. A feasibility report – approx. 7,500 words by the 31st July.
  2. A set of transcribed interviews and a report by 31st July 2016 evaluating the state of employer engagement with investigating pay inequality. From this data we will also understand the way that employers frame pay inequality as an employment issue. We anticipate this making a significant contribution in a high quality publication – submission by Dec 2016.
  3. By the 31st July we will report on cross-tabulated data identifying differences in attitudes across business sectors, industries and sizes. Findings will generate at least one high-quality publication. We will also use delineated findings to identify organisations which may be most likely to respond to our future approaches for access. This will directly inform the scope and design of our future funding bid and project. We will also be able to develop segmented marketing propositions.
  4. Outcomes from this stage will include a strengthened inter-university research cluster, submission for further funding, an end-of-project dissemination event and on-going publicity.

GW4 universities employ around 40 colleagues working directly on pay and income inequality, gender disadvantage or affiliated areas within research institutes and centres. These include the Women Adding Value to the Economy Programme (Cardiff) the Centre for Analysis of Social Policy (Bath), the FSSL Research groups in Global Political Economy and Migration (Bristol) and the Behaviour, Identity and Decisions cluster – subgroup Gender and Diversity (Exeter). GW4 Accelerator funding will enable us to formalise links between groups, consolidating and integrating separate research clusters to strengthen our collective interdisciplinary expertise.

Read a post by Professor Carol Woodhams

“The pay gap is not inevitable, there are things that can be done to tackle it” says EqualPayPortal’s Sheila Wild


Dying with Reduced Agency: People, Places, Principles and Policies

Accelerator Fund

This project has been developed from the Initiator funded Dying Well After a Long Life community.

Project period: May to November 2015

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Dr Jeremy Dixon
University of Bristol: Professor Richard Huxtable
Cardiff University: Professor Jenny Kitzinger
University of Exeter: Professor Linda Clare

Project overview

Demographic, technological, organisational, political and social changes create new challenges at the end of life. This GW4 community is focused on understanding and improving the end of life for the growing number of people with reduced agency (e.g. linked to dementia, disorders of consciousness or frailty/chronic conditions in advanced old age).

Our community aims to:

  • increase capacity and integration of our work about end-of-life across GW4 and ensure sustainability;
  • ensure public/patient involvement as we develop a cross-university research agenda;
  • increase the profile of, and dialogue about, the work we do through the public/policy engagement events and conference presentation(s);
  • generate (at least one) publication;
  • develop research bids to inform future work to research, and improve end of life support for people with reduced agency.



Prototypical Iterations in the Built Environment

Accelerator Fund

This project has been developed from the Initiator funded Flexible Formwork community.

Project period: May to November 2015

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Dr John Orr
University of Bristol: Dr Wendel Sebastian
Cardiff University: Dr Iulia Mihai
University of Exeter: Dr Prakash Kripakaran

Project overview


By 2050 all new structures will be prototypical iterations; harnessing big data to be self-resilient while minimising whole life environmental, economic, and social costs.

This community has the long-term vision to change the way that all structures are designed and operated within the built environment. This is crucial if we are to achieve global sustainability in the face of a growing population and increasing urbanisation.

All buildings use materials, and energy, to perform their functions. A decarbonised built environment will be founded on several challenges. Whilst these are interlinked challenges, research to date has typically considered them isolation. This community will take a systems approach to achieve the overarching aims of our vision statement.

We aim to strengthen collaborations across this community and develop three new research proposals. These proposals will share the vision that by 2050 every new structure will be designed and measured in terms of whole life cost – consuming minimal energy during construction and operation.

The Role of Science in Society and Policy

Initiator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Anna Gilmore, David Miller
University of Bristol: Stephan Lewandowsky
Cardiff University: Lorraine Whitmarsh
University of Exeter: Jason Reifler

Project outcomes

  • Created a highly interdisciplinary team that would not have been put together without the GW4 initiator funding
  • Group has submitted an application to the GW4 Accelerator Fund

Modern British History and Politics

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015 (Initiator), May to November 2015 (Accelerator)

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: David Cutts, David Moon
University of Bristol: Mark Wickham-Jones, Hugh Pemberton, Sarah Childs
Cardiff University: Peter Dorey, Stephen Thornton
University of Exeter: David Thackeray, Richard Toye

Project overview

Our aim is to develop and strengthen our scholarly activities as a research cluster offering innovative and significant projects, with a distinct commitment to a cross-disciplinary approach.

Working around the broad field of political engagement and disengagement, the group has identified a number of important areas for potential future research. These themes are:

  • Political engagement and parties
  • Engagement, gender and political participation
  • Political engagement and voting

We will undertake pathfinding research and explore research funding possibilities in our three main thematic areas. A major bid will be produced for each theme, along with our oral history collaboration with History of Parliament.

Seminars, conferences and business meetings will bring together participants from the different GW4 institutions, and will also provide an opportunity to develop existing links with outside partner organisations such as History & Policy and the History of Parliament. Developing international collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin through the pilot study of presidential libraries provides significant opportunities to develop the profile of this research group over the longer-term.


GW4 Medieval Studies

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: May – July 2014 (Initiator), October 2014 – April 2015 (Accelerator)

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bristol: Carolyn Muessig, Beth Williamson
Cardiff University: Bronach Kane
University of Exeter: James Clark

Project overview
This project has established a GW4 Medieval Studies community that is vibrant, productive and creative with a shared vision. Its aim is to lead in the field. There are various on-going shared initiatives to develop the research culture in Medieval Studies.

GW4 Medieval Studies aims to fortify its rich resource of medievalists (65 members of staff and over 75 research students) into a cohesive and energetic research cluster that offers an unmatched range of expertise organised under three themed topics:

  1. Wales and the South West of England
  2. Sex and Gender
  3. Authority and Ethics

These topics are arranged by an overarching design that emerges across the specialisms of GW4 medievalists: Power, Knowledge and Identity. In addition to these topics, the community will also explore ways of sharing resources where all can mutually benefit.

A successful application was submitted for GW4 Accelerator funding.

During the academic year 2014-2015, GW4 Medieval Studies will be running a series of workshop, seminars and conferences.

GW4 Medieval Studies will run three sessions at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds in July 2015.

Three conferences are planned (one international) to bring together the 50 GW4 medievalists to discuss research outcomes and identify future collaborative work.

Emotion and Non-verbal Communication in Social and Economic Interactions

Initiator Fund

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Alan Lewis
University of Bristol: Ian Penton-Voak, Poppy Mulvaney
Cardiff University: Antony Manstead, Job Van Der Schalk
University of Exeter: Andrew Livingstone, Brit Grosskopf

Project outcomes

  • Workshop event held on 5th November, attended by all applicants and a number of other community members from different disciplines at University of Exeter
  • Sharing of research papers has also continued in the wake of this event, further enhancing cross-talk between attendees
  • Group to apply for funding, most likely to the ESRC


Dying Well After a Long Life

Initiator Fund

This project has been awarded Accelerator funding for the Dying with Reduced Agency: People, Places, Principles and Policies community.

Project period: October 2014 – January 2015

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Tony Walter
University of Bristol: Liz Lloyd
Cardiff University: Jenny Kitzinger
University of Exeter: Kerry Jones

Project outcomes

  • Created a GW4 network of social science researchers keen to work together in this area
  • Outlined a potential research programme encompassing a number of linked
  • Group to apply for Collaboration Lifecycle funding to hone the concept
  • Group to apply for Accelerator funding to engage with user groups and to employ a Post-doc to prepare a major programme grant application


Collective Human-Information Interaction (CHI2)

Initiator Fund

Project period: May – July 2014

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Peter Johnson
University of Bristol: Alex Bentley
Cardiff University: Alun Preece
University of Exeter: Roger Maull

Project outcomes
Advances in information and communication technologies – including human-computer interaction, intelligent information processing, “big data” and social media – have led to new possibilities for how people and machines can live and work collectively: making best cumulative use of each other’s strengths and ameliorating each other’s weaknesses.

The emerging area of Collective Human-Information Interaction requires rich interdisciplinary study and integration. Opportunities exist to produce ground-breaking research outputs with significant potential for impact, including defence and security, economics, health and wellbeing, and social policy.

This project has enabled the creation of a multi-disciplinary community of nearly 50 researchers, providing critical mass for synergistic new research. The community has engaged with external partners, for example Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This has begun a process of strategic partnering potential able to access additional and new funding.