Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Rural Evidence Base and Research Review - RE0237

To review Defra’s role and function in the collection, dissemination and presentation of rural evidence and research. The role should be well founded, appropriate and well understood by our stakeholders. In addition Defra should ensure it is maximising partnering opportunities and value for money in procuring evidence and fundamentally this is done in such a way that it reinforces “rural mainstreaming” and is clearly in support of the objectives of DSO 8 – Economically and socially sustainable rural communities.

Defra has invested significantly in development of a research base, data and evidence to support rural policy. However, it is no longer available in a coherent and structured form and there is a need to refresh our approaches.

Defra is not alone in developing and providing the evidence base for rural policy. Along with our close partners, such as CRC and the RDAs, English rural policy benefits from focus from a range of inputs from academic, private sector and lobby group sources. In addition to this, rural interests are to some extent mainstreamed in the research work of other government departments and research councils who are required to think about the rural scope of their work in their research as much as in any other part of their operation. Indeed government as a whole has adopted the policy of “mainstreaming” rural policy and delivery, so rural delivery and development responsibility is shared across government. The mainstreaming principle also applies to research and evidence collection and we would therefore expect Other Government Departments and Agencies to be a source of relevant material.

Defra is developing a strategic approach to its rural research procurement and it is apparent that its evidence base needs to be updated, presented in a more accessible way and better connected to the data and evidence available from partners. The development of Defra’s new approach needs to be informed by an independent review of the various sources of evidence and data and advised on how to best pitch its own role. Defra is also looking to for advice on associated improvements the strategic development and dissemination of its evidence base which strengthen communication between key elements of the evidence base, improves synergies, effectiveness and value for money.

The project is based on a 2 step method. Firstly, we require a stock take and review of the existing sources of rural evidence, and secondly the development of advice and proposals on how Defra might develop its strategic approach in this area.
The project will:

• Undertake a review of the main sources of intelligence and evidence for the rural aspects of public policy in England;
• Assess the current state of rural intelligence and evidence available through the main organisations responsible for its collection and presentation - i.e., is it current, comprehensive, robust, reliable, regularly maintained, well employed, freely shared and networked (absolute criteria, to be agreed);
• Relate the review to the Defra rural evidence base and research strategy and both "peer review" the Defra research strategy and identify any gaps and overlaps in the Defra Rural Evidence Base in relation to the national rural research landscape;
• Consider the need for ongoing peer review of Defra’s own evidence base and research activity and “challenge” and how this might be better organised; such peer review should also improve connections to and communication with the rural policy community;
• Relate the current research programmes and intentions of the main "sources" to the gaps and needs identified – highlight any gaps in Defra’s own evidence base and research strategy and if necessary advise on a re-draft of the strategy;
• Design a presentation and dissemination strategy for Defra research which has the buy in and support of other main sources and which is primarily focused on the needs of the users of rural evidence relevant to the needs of public policy.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Defra Rural Evidence - Final Report - FINAL   (583k)
• EXE - Executive Summary : Defra Rural Evidence - Executive Summary - FINAL   (129k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2011

Cost: £79,083
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rural Issues              
Fields of Study
Rural Affairs