Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Taskforce

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Think Research: Using Research Evidence to Inform Service Development for Vulnerable Groups

Social Exclusion Task Force (SETF), in partnership with Barnardo's, Research in Practice (RIP) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) have developed a user friendly tool to assist commissioners and service providers to select and monitor evidence based services for vulnerable people. There is a wealth of data on ‘what-works’ – both from the research community, local authorities and service providers – yet this remains largely untapped. The use of research evidence will enable commissioners and service providers to have confidence that services will work – achieving the desired impact for service users and ensuring value for money. In addition, greater transparency and objectivity can be built into the commissioning process by allowing research evidence to guide practice and decision-making.

SETF have consulted with a wide range of local authorities, service providers, and academics to develop this guidance which helps to demystify research evidence.


Supporting information

  1. Glossary of Research Terms [PDF 53KB, 8 pages]
  2. Building research capacity [PDF 53KB, 7 pages]
    1. Accessing research
    2. Assessing research
    3. Understanding statistics
    4. User involvement
    5. Implementation
    6. Auditing your research capacity
  3. Appraising research evidence [PDF 71KB, 13 pages]
    1. Study grading tool
    2. Appraising randomised control trails
    3. Appraising quasi-experimental trials
    4. Appraising qualitative research
  4. Searching databases – basic guidance [PDF 37KB, 3 pages]
  5. Ethical guidance [PDF 27KB, 1 page]
  6. Case studies [PDF 51KB, 8 pages]

Research evidence training courses

To support the launch of this document, SETF hosted two one-day training courses on using research evidence in service planning. The courses were run by experts in the field of evidence based commissioning from Oxford-Brookes University. The course focused on and provided practical training in the use and understanding of research evidence or ‘what-works’ and how this can inform decision making about what services to fund and how to evaluate impact. The course was designed for those in adult and children's services who were interested in how research evidence can be used to improve outcomes for vulnerable individuals. The courses were held in London as follows: