THE EVIDENCE INFORMATION SERVICE PROMOTING GW4 RESEARCH ON EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY
Project period: September 2015 – January 2016
This community later received Accelerator Funding for the project: The Evidence Information Service: promoting GW4 research on evidence-based policy
GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Hannah Durrant, Julie Barnett
University of Bristol: Deborah Wilson, Georgina Brereton, Alexia MacDonald
Cardiff University: Andrew Kythreotis (PI), Chris Chambers, Gerard O’Grady
University of Exeter: Natalia Lawrence
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.
A recent Ipsos MORI study on public attitudes to science has shown that the UK public are as enthusiastic about science as they ever have been, with attitudes to science having become increasingly positive over the past 25 years. With such public opinion in mind, it is remarkable that the wider academic community is still generally disconnected from politicians. A 2013 analysis by the Government Office for Science (GOS) indicates that of ~180,000 academics in the UK, less than 2% work directly each year with the GOS. The EIS will contribute to bridging this evidence-policy knowledge gap. By working with parliament (as opposed to government) the EIS will be especially suited to addressing local issues faced by backbench or opposition MPs, as well as addressing general science-related issues that fall outside the priority of existing systems. The EIS will also provide a way for academics to engage more effectively with their local politicians.
The community held a series of workshops to establish the GW4 collaboration, inviting academics and policy researchers from GW4 as well as House of Commons and Parliamentary Outreach stakeholders. This created strong links between the GW4 institutes and allowed the team to explore how an EIS might be developed, and to formalise an action plan for the future operationalization and funding of the EIS. Following a pilot study, the community went on to receive GW4 Accelerator Funding.