New Transition Funding for The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN)



ESRC has awarded transition funding to CECAN and eight other ESRC research centres to continue their pioneering social science research and to increase the use of their research in policy and practice.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC’s Executive Chair said: "We are delighted that these nine centres have secured transitional funding. The breadth of social science that these centres of excellence encompass illustrates the strength of UK social science. This funding will support these centres and help set them on a path to long term sustainability. This model for funding social science research centres in partnership with research organisations in the UK recognises their strategic and financial benefits and their potential for making a contribution to better lives nationally and internationally.”

Led by the University of Surrey, this second phase of CECAN will follow seamlessly from the end of the current grant, running from 1st March 2019 for 36 months, to extend and deepen the work developed in the first phase.

Post-Brexit Policy: What’s the deal?

Dr Martin Reynolds


CECAN researchers Dr Pete Barbrook-Johnson, Dr Amy Proctor and Dr Adam Hejnowicz presented at the British Science Festival in Hull on 12th September 2018. In a sold-out session exploring how Brexit might affect UK policy evaluation, the audience heard how CECAN research is supporting new approaches to waste crime and rural development policy evaluation before debating complexity and wicked issues in policy evaluation.

Slides from the presentation are available to download here.

CECAN Seminar - Applying Process Tracing Within a Realist Evaluation

CECAN Seminar


CECAN would like to thank Adam Stiles from BEIS, Charles Michaelis from SDS and Mary Anderson from CAG Consultants, for an engaging seminar on their experiences of using process tracing in realist evaluations.

The team delivered a presentation on a pilot scheme they have been working on, to encourage demand side response (DSR) to participate in the capacity market for electricity, using process tracing.

CECAN's Barbara Befani has peer reviewed this work and was involved in the scheme through her work on bayesian updating.

The seminar was filmed and can be viewed below via our Youtube channel.

Slides can also be viewed and downloaded here.


CECAN Webinar: Making Policy and Making Policy Work with Developmental Evaluation

Dr Martin Reynolds


CECAN were pleased to host a webinar with Dr Martin Reynolds from the Open University on 24th July. Martin presented his work on developmental evaluation, which endeavours to reconfigure evaluation practice away from merely serving purposes of external accountability of policy towards making evaluation integral to the dualistic practice of policy making and policy implementation. 

A framework of developmental evaluation was introduced based on a simple heuristic founded on three principles from a tradition of systems thinking in practice – understanding inter-relationships, engaging with multiple perspectives, and reflecting on boundary judgements. Two case stories of developmental evaluation were used to illustrate the workings of the heuristic towards making policy and making policy work.

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


Policy Evaluation for a Complex World

Policy Evaluation for a Complex World


On 11th July nearly 200 delegates attended CECAN’s annual conference in the elegant and central London venue of One Birdcage Walk. Just across the road is HM Treasury, so as we enjoyed our tea and lunch, we were able to peer through the windows of the UK government policy-making machine and ponder how it is addressing the complexities of the policy and evaluation challenges now facing the UK, and also how it might benefit from the rich and insightful discussions taking place at the conference.

The Challenges of Complexity for Government

Evaluating the Energy Innovation Programme: CECAN Supporting BEIS Strategy.

Energy Innovation


On April 25, BEIS and CECAN held a workshop bringing together members of the CECAN team with analysis and policy leads in BEIS, responsible for the £505million Energy Innovation Programme (EIP).

The workshop explored options for the development of an evaluation strategy for the programme; it is the first activity in the ongoing support CECAN will offer in this key policy area.

The programme is made of many projects with diverse aims and contexts, and has key objectives around energy innovation, meaning there are many evaluation challenges.