Researcher Development Initiative (RDI), 2005 - 2010

Training in Pragmatic Social Interventions: Problems, Promises and Protocols

01/01/06 - 31/12/07


This project was designed to increase awareness and knowledge concerning trial-based designs (such as randomised controlled trials) for use in evaluating social and policy interventions, with a specific focus on the North East of England and surrounding areas. We assisted students, new and established researchers, practitioners, consultancy and commercial enterprises, government departments and NGOs in the design, conduct, analysis, reporting and critique of their own trials. The policy areas covered by participants included criminal justice, housing, demography, health promotion, education, sociology, psychology, economics, linguistics, policy studies, women’s studies, nursing, social work, information systems, food safety, and politics. We raised debates about the feasibility of trial methods for policy evaluation, created sustainable resources for those wishing to learn about or conduct trials, and linked up with international expertise and developments.


Thirteen face-to-face researcher development events were held. A quarterly newsletter - ‘Trials in Public Policy’ - was produced, and resources made available via a website, with links to a register of trials and an edited collection of past, future and current trial reports. Methodological publications stemming from the project included a book, how-to articles, examples of completed and ongoing trials, and a collection of craft tips. An annual international conference was inaugurated on trials in public policy, with high profile and expert keynote speakers. The York Social Sciences Trials Methods Group was also established for the mutual benefit of those in the UK conducting or intending to conduct trials, with an annual meeting at the conference.


Principal Investigator: Professor Stephen Gorard, University of Birmingham

Co-Investigator:  Dr Carole Torgerson, University of York

Contact Details

Professor Stephen Gorard, University of Birmingham

Tel: 0121 414 4828