'Truth' junkies: using evaluation in UK public policy

Helen Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the relationships of policy makers and academic evaluators with each other and with evaluation over the life of the United Kingdom's (UK) New Labour. Drawing on experience of central government-funded evaluations and employing insights from governance and governmentality theories, it illustrates how the idea of evaluation as a source of 'truth' was valorised by policy makers as a means of dealing with emergent doubt, delineates the competing manifestations of 'truth' that were negotiated in the context of 'new governance', and reviews the contribution of new evaluation approaches to uncovering evidence of 'the truth'. The article concludes that, despite considerable investment in UK policy evaluation, a disconnection between 'evidence' and 'argument' has limited the role of academic evaluators in the policy process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-512
Number of pages14
JournalPolicy and politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • argument
  • evidence
  • judgement
  • role of evaluator


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