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Learning from practice

A series of internal guidance notes to support the design and delivery of public dialogue have been produced, drawing on the lessons that have been identified through formal project and programme evaluations. These provide templates for inception and final wash-up meetings, advice on the role of specialists (e.g. scientists) in dialogue events, and advice on good workshop practice.

Specific research and development has been undertaken on the costs and benefits of public dialogue, including:

•    Evidence Counts: Understanding the value of public dialogue, by Diane Warburton (2009). This report was one of the series of Practice research papers researched and produced by Sciencewise in 2009. It reviews practice in evaluating the costs and benefits of public engagement and provides a framework for reviewing the costs and value of these activities.

In an era of greater enthusiasm for public engagement of all sorts but reducing budgets in all sectors, it has never been more important to demonstrate the true practical value of dialogue. Evaluations of dialogue processes have become more widespread over the past five years but there have always been two major gaps: measurement of costs and assessment of quality.

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•    Evidence Counts Full Report, by Diane Warburton

•    Evidence Counts Summary Report, by Diane Warburton

Interview with the author Diane Warburton

•    Measuring costs and benefits workshop. On 4 November 2010, Sciencewise and Involve ran a small workshop for 25 organisations involved in evaluating participatory working who were interested in evaluating the costs and benefits of their work. Short presentations covered existing work by Sciencewise, new economics foundation (on Social Return on Investment approaches), Department of Health, planning aid, Demos and local government. Sciencewise provided a handout updating the work done through the Evidence Counts research.

•    Evaluation: Facing the Tricky Questions. Diane Warburton was one of three evaluators who ran a workshop on evaluation at the Science Communication Conference in London on 25 May 2011. The three presentations covered:

•    Evaluating Long Term Impacts, by Laura Grant, Laura Grant Associates - [Forthcoming]

•    Assessing Impacts on Policy, by Mark Dyball, People Science & Policy - [Forthcoming]

•    Assessing value for money, by Diane Warburton, Sciencewise