Our evidence principles - what we mean by 'good evidence'

Our evidence principles - what we mean by 'good evidence'

There's no one-size-fits-all kind of evidence. These principles will help you think about what good evidence would mean to you.

Once you've generated some evidence, we'd love to hear what you've found out.

Evidence should be useful to you and help you take action

People sometimes think that evidence generated using National Lottery funding is for us as the funder. And that we want a certain type of evidence. But we want you to generate evidence that's useful for you.

Evidence should help you learn and decide when and how you should take action. So, for example, whether you should make changes to the service you deliver.

So your evidence is useful, you need to be clear about who it's for and what you want it to help you do.

Measure what matters to you

There are lots of different things you could be measuring. But you can’t measure everything. So figure out what's important to you, the people you work with, and anyone else you want to use the evidence.

There might already be some good evidence out there that will help you. If there's already good evidence that relates to your work, you can use or build on that. You don’t need to recreate it for your own activity.

Evidence of all kinds can be useful

There are lots of types of evidence:

  • quantitative and qualitative
  • primary and secondary research
  • evidence from experience, stories and reflection.

Different types of evidence are right for different purposes. The important thing is that evidence is gathered in a systematic way, understanding the negatives as well as the positives.

Experts of all kinds can be valuable

Involving a variety of perspectives and expertise throughout the evidence process can be valuable. Your evidence might be generated by or with:

  • people with lived experience
  • service users
  • practitioners
  • academics
  • other subject matter experts
  • a mixture of these.

Think about improving as well as proving

Having high quality evidence about the difference you make can be really helpful.

So you might choose to focus on proving that your work has an impact on the people you work with. But it’s not possible to prove impact in every situation.

Evidence that helps you improve your activity is also valuable. For example, getting feedback from the people you work with about what you do, and how you do it. Or using existing research to build your understanding of local context.

Think about how you’re contributing to change

The activity you have funding for is one part of what's going on in your local community, and maybe just one part of your work.

It can be difficult to isolate which positive or negative changes have resulted directly from your activity. So, it can make sense to think about how your work has helped to make some changes (contribution), rather than trying to find out if the change is all a direct result of your work (attribution).

Generate evidence in responsible ways

There are responsibilities with carrying out research and evaluation: it must be done in a way that is appropriate, ethical, proportionate and doesn't cause harm.

You’ll need to understand these responsibilities. Working with experienced researchers can help with this – take a look at our tools and resources page for more sources of support.