skip to main content


of the 25th DeGEval Annual Conference 2022 in Linz

Was the UK Government's policymaking 'evidence-based' during the Pandemic?

Martyn Hammersley, Emeritus Professor of Educational and Social Research

At face value, it could be argued that, during the pandemic, UK Government policymaking (like that in some other countries) came close to being evidence-based, in the sense that it drew on virological and epidemiological evidence about the spread of the virus, and on a broader range of scientific evidence about what measures were likely to be successful in dealing with it. I will argue that this case offers particular insights into the complexities of evidence-based policymaking and the conditions required if closer approximation to this model is to be achieved. I will look, in particular, at problems caused by uncertainties surrounding scientific evidence; the fuzzy boundary between evidence and grounds for policy action; issues to do with the channels of communication by which scientific information reaches policymakers; and, finally, the contextual factors that affect its reception - in particular, the role of ideology.

Curriculum Vitae
Paper (PDF)