Supporting collaboration – ESRC


What Works

ESRC: What Works

We are a major partner in the Cabinet Office-led What Works Network, which aims to enable decision makers in public services to access independent, high quality, accessible evidence syntheses across a broad range of social policy areas. Our involvement has directly contributed to the success of What Works to date, raising the credibility and traction of the initiative with academics and policy makers.

We have supported What Works investment where there is focus on an area of strength for the social sciences evidence mobilisation which is currently untapped. We want to address clear demand from policy-makers and practitioners for that evidence, and needs for new approaches, capabilities and partnerships to be built.

There is a window of opportunity for ESRC to respond to the evolving needs of policy makers and practitioners and in so doing strengthen and diversify our offer, better using our evidence centres to embed all types of social science evidence and expertise into policymaking across the UK.

We have been working towards ESRC’s vision supported by our What Works Investment Framework published in 2017.

ESRC’s vision

  • our strategic investment in What Works harnesses the strengths of the social science research base, mobilising evidence into policy to deliver improved policymaking and public services
  • ESRC’s leadership for the What Works approach in UK Research and Innovation is recognised and valued by our stakeholders.

Frontiers Economics Evaluation of ESRC Investment in What Works Centres 2022

An evaluation was completed in 2022 by Frontiers Economics to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of our investment in What Works Centres. This evaluation provides useful learnings and evidence that is being used to strengthen our investment approach. ESRC will be engaging with the sector and key stakeholders to develop a refreshed strategy for evidence synthesis and translation, which will be informed by the evaluation.

ESRC investment in What Works Centres: January 2022

Last updated: 27 July 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback.