Research & analysis

Introduction to research and analysis in Defra

 Research and analysis is at the heart of good policymaking at Defra.  It provides evidence for decision-making, helps us find new policy solutions and helps us to identify and tackle future issues.

Every year we spend around £300 million on research, which includes a range of social and natural science disciplines.

This section of the website highlights the main areas of our research, as well as the work we do to ensure we use the right, highest quality evidence in the right way.

Evidence-based policy-making

Find out how we are ensuring that Defra’s polices are based on a sound and comprehensive understanding of current evidence. [Further information]


Economic analysis is important for planning, delivering and evaluating policies. Learn about the areas where economic analysis is playing a key role in Defra. [Further information]

 Horizon scanning

Read about how Horizon Scanning is helping us identify and plan for future issues, risks and opportunities. [Further information]

Natural sciences

Major issues such as climate change, animal disease, flood defence, sustainable farming practices and biodiversity are by their very nature issues with a heavy science component.  Using and understanding the natural sciences is therefore critical to developing robust policies and setting future strategies across the whole of Defra’s remit. [Further information]

 Operational Research

Operational Research helps explore and structure complex policy issues, appraises options and provides insight into the likely impacts of policy. Find out how it is being used in Defra to support agricultural policymaking. [Further information]

Social research

Social research helps us understand the human aspects of policy-making – what effect policies will have and how individuals in society will respond.  Find out about the key role that social researchers in Defra play in translating policy needs into research questions and in interpreting research evidence into policy implications. [Further information]


Using and publishing high quality, accessible statistical information is of central importance in policymaking.  Find out more about the areas in which Defra’s Government Statisticians work and access useful data. [Further information]

Information for researchers

Search current Defra funded research projects, find out the latest Defra research opportunities, how to apply for funding and current Defra vacancies. [Further information]

Page last modified: 12 December 2007
Page published: 9 June 2007

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs