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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

PPS collaboration with the Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Read Dr John Boswell's brief on how is evidence evaluated and valued in policymaking
Click on the image to read the report

How is the ‘impact’ of scientific evidence envisioned, understood, measured and valued in the context of policy and its implementation?

There is a strong need in Government to use science and evidence better. Public Policy|Southampton has been working with colleagues from DEFRA and Natural England to explore how policy can be better informed by science, focusing on the practical aspects - good practice guidelines, what works and what doesn’t, and key barriers.

Dr John Boswell, Associate Professor in Politics and Deputy Director of the Centre of Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance at the University of Southampton has been leading on the review to answer these questions helping DEFRA to better understand the current value of what they do, exploring the practice-based evidence that can help Defra identify where and how they can get even more value from its investments.

The scope for the review has been global and historical as the literature on this stretches back decades and comes from all over - particularly US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and more recently South Asia.

In particular the review aimed to answer the following questions:

  1. What strategies and techniques are effective in enabling scientific evidence to be taken up and used within government policymaking?
  2. How is the ‘impact’ of scientific evidence envisioned, understood, measured and valued in the context of policy and its implementation?
  3. What is the current span of practices within Defra relating to working across the science-policy interface?
  4. How do these compare with ‘good’ practice emerging from the literature review?
  5. Where and how might current practices be strengthened in advancing towards good practice?

The review has also provided a set of recommendations on the next steps in terms of building a system for reflection and capacity building within Defra in respect of its strengthening its approaches and methods for working at the science/policy interface and demonstrating the range for values derived from its investments in science and evidence.


Read other projects by Dr Boswell

Defra runs programmes to deliver much of the research and monitoring needed for policy development, both nationally and internationally. This Governmental Department launches their own 'Area's of Research Interest' (ARI) as well as issues calls for evidence.

If your research falls within the ARI's and you wish to receive support on how best to engage with Departments, please contact us here.

Defra group research and innovation interestsDefra Group Areas of Research Interest
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