Evaluative Thinking in Complexity Research

Evaluative Thinking in Complexity Research


By Dione Hills, 8th March 2019

The field of complexity related research is growing apace, and CECAN has been at the forefront of exploring how research methods from this field can be incorporated into evaluation practice (given sufficient resources, expertise and willingness on the part of evaluation funders!). However, what has not yet been explored in depth, is the question of how evaluation differs from other kinds of research, and what implications, if any, this has for the adoption of complex appropriate research methods within an evaluation context.

CECAN Webinar - Risk Analysis at the Food Standards Agency post EU-Exit: The role of economics and social science in informing risk management

Dione Hills & Helen Wilkinson Webinar


On 6th February, Vanna Aldin (Head of Analytics and Chief Economist at the Food Standards Agency) kindly presented a CECAN Webinar on 'Risk Analysis at the Food Standards Agency post EU-Exit: The role of economics and social science in informing risk management'.

The webinar highlighted the central role of economics and social sciences in informing “the other legitimate factors” – which is the internationally accepted terminology for issues other than risk related to human health- risk managers will consider alongside the risk assessment to develop, analyse and identify risk management recommendations.

If you were unable to join the webinar, you can watch/listen to the session via our YouTube channel below.

Additionally, please note, the FSA is looking to expand their Register of Specialists, who they may use to commission short pieces of ad hoc science and technical work under contract. Further information and application forms are available here.


Complexity Evaluation Framework



30th January 2019

CECAN Ltd is pleased to be working with Defra to develop a Complexity Evaluation Framework that will equip Defra commissioners of evaluation with a checklist of core considerations to ensure that policy evaluations sufficiently consider the implications of complexity theory. A long-term CECAN partner, Defra is one of a number of organisations that has collaborated with CECAN Ltd to give further consideration to embedding complexity thinking into evaluation. Defra is seeking to ensure that evaluations adequately account for uncertain contexts, behaviours, intersectionalities and adaptions which may affect implementation of policies across its remit (which includes the environment, food, farming, fishing and rural affairs). The Complexity Evaluation Framework will provide an actionable toolkit for evaluation commissioners to deliver insights. This will lead to evaluations that both demonstrate the impact and value for money of new policies and also enable rapid feedback to allow for adaptive implementation of policy in changing and uncertain contexts.

CECAN Case Study Report: BEIS Energy Trilemma

Energy Trilemma


12th December 2018

We are pleased to announce that CECAN Research Fellows, Pete Barbrook-Johnson and Alex Penn, have published a report presenting a systems mapping project carried out by CECAN with BEIS between June 2017 and December 2018.

There is a large range of central government policies and programmes that have effects on the energy trilemma (i.e. the interplay between sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions, consumer prices, and security of supply). The sheer number of programmes and policies with close interaction and overlap in this area has led to a crowded and complex policy landscape with a range of potentially complementary and conflicting aims.

CECAN Webinar: Developing Microsimulation Models to Generate Evidence to Support Policy Change in Public Health

Abbygail J


On 7th November, Abbygail Jaccard (Deputy Director of Public Health Modelling UK Health Forum) kindly presented a CECAN Webinar on how the UKHF computer generated microsimulation models have been developed to forecast the health and economic impact of different policy scenarios. Changes to Air Quality and the Introduction of a Sugar Sweetener Beverage Tax were used to illustrate the UKHF multi-disciplinary approach to modelling and impacts such as the incidence of chronic diseases and demand for healthcare services. The UKHF have also developed additional tools to provide evidence at local and national level to support policy change in public health.

If you were unable to join the webinar, you can watch/listen to the session via our Youtube channel below. Abbygail has also kindly made her slides available for download here.