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Evidence counts: understanding the value of public dialogue

Understanding the value of public dialogue

 

Summary

Evaluations of dialogue processes have become more widespread over the past few years but there have always been two major gaps: measurement of costs and assessment of quality.

This paper aims to fill these two gaps in current evaluation practice and provide practical guidance on these issues. It reports the findings from a short piece of research to investigate the extent to which it is useful to consider the costs and benefits of public dialogue and, given that conventional methods of calculation (such as cost benefit analysis) do not seem to be appropriate, how that might be done. It also considers the current sets of criteria for success and quality in public engagement, identifies gaps in those, and proposes a new set of criteria. Finally, the paper considers how to relate costs and benefits to quality in ways that will demonstrate 'value', and that will provide a framework for assessing engagement and gathering valuable evidence for the future.

This report is one of a series of six covering research undertaken by Sciencewise. The workstreams aim to explore specific aspects of public and stakeholder engagement resulting in guidance for policy makers who want to engage people within their policy area.

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