Equipped to Decide

Findings from a roundtable discussion asking: ‘Are we looking at what people need to know?’

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Are we looking at what we need to know?

From football fans seeking the return of standing space at matches to Somerset beekeepers monitoring invasive hornets, people in different walks of life use evidence, independent analysis and statistics to make decisions. Contrary to the narrative of a post-truth world, they have many questions about what is true and what is a reliable source of information.

On our behalf, governments analyse, report and decide; and parliaments are charged with scrutinising many of those decisions, on issues as far apart as rented housing and off-shore fisheries. The public purse funds research to support this. Increasingly this means asking searching questions of new sources of data, complex interactions and trade-offs, amid an explosion of scholarly (and not so scholarly) claims.

But do we really know what’s going on in the world today? And are we looking at what people want to know?

During Evidence Week 2018 we brought together a group of expert panellists to explore these questions. Equipped to Decide is a new report which summarises the outcomes of this discussion. The roundtable panellists included:

  • Ciara Keenan, Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast and specialist in systematic review and meta-analyses
  • Megan Lucero, Director of the Bureau Local at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of the Health and Research Authority
  • Alison Park, Head of CLOSER – Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources
  • John Pullinger, UK National Statistician, Head of the Government Statistical Service and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority
  • Rachel Tuffin, Director of Knowledge, Research and Education and What Works Centre lead at the College of Policing
  • Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian and managing director of Research and Information

Equipped to Decide was produced and published in collaboration with SAGE Publishing.

We have published this summary of our discussion to get other people thinking and talking about whether their picture of the world is as clear as they think it is, and whether they are equipped to decide on the issues that matter to them.

Questions, queries, thoughts or comments? Get in touch on hello@senseaboutscience.org.

Published: 7 November 2018