Our Theory of Change

There is widespread agreement across diverse policy and research communities that evidence can play a vital role in processes of democratic deliberation on the aims, design and implementation of public policy interventions. The challenge for everyone working at the interface of policy and research is how to assess the value (impact) of what we do.

To address this challenge, we engaged in a process to define our “theory of change”. We produced a model of our ways of working that starts from what we want to achieve, and articulates the relationship between that and who we are, what we do, how we do it and what we measure. It has been a team endeavour, and has proved to be an extremely constructive and creative process. Collectively, we identified five important and interdependent roles that represent the breadth of what we do.

As a team we:

  1. Interpret evidence needs: by maintaining close relationships with Ministers, officials and public service leaders, through our formal and informal networks and through ongoing monitoring of policy developments.
  2. Convene evidence and expertise: by co-designing a responsive programme of research and evidence synthesis to meet the evidence needs of policy-makers in Wales across a range of policy fields, and by facilitating interaction between policy-makers and experts.
  3. Advance understanding of evidence and policy: by undertaking and publishing research that contributes to knowledge and practice on policy-making and evidence use.
  4. Communicate evidence: by producing a variety of accessible outputs tailored for different audiences.
  5. Advocate for and build capacity to use evidence: by acting as a trusted source of independent expert advice, demonstrating the value of evidence and expertise for policy and practice, promoting an evidence-based culture and building capacity around evidence use.

The value of our theory of change is that it allows us to explain to our partners and stakeholders what we do, why and how we do it. It provides a framework to examine whether our work is making a difference. We have identified a range of factors that will help us to understand our impact and inform our future practice. This is not just about numbers. We are developing ways to assess the quality of our relationships, and how the interactions we broker between policymakers and experts increases the appetite for and builds capacity to use evidence in policy-making processes. Keep an eye on our website for reports on the progress we have made in measuring our impact.