Mr Jonathan Breckon

Research project: Power, politics and evidence: the role of UK professional bodies as intermediaries between research and practice


It is now over twenty years since evidence-based medicine, education and policing were first advocated (Sackett et al, 1996; Hargreaves, 1996; Sherman 2013). Professional bodies have, to differing degrees, accepted this agenda and recognised the role of using research to aid practice. However, there is a wide diversity of approaches across over 30 organisations in health, social care, education and policing. They can range from large bodies like the Royal College of Surgeons which can trace its history back to 1540, to newer and smaller bodies like the Chartered College of Teaching which was given Privy Council approval in 2017. A common feature of these organisations is a public commitment to the value of research. But have professional membership bodies really fostered a culture and practice where decisions are informed by research? There is very little scholarly work on these professional bodies and their evidence use – both as individual bodies, or as a collective. This research will seek to examine them as a group, including creating a conceptual framework to compare these organisations, and locate them within different political and governance contexts.  The approach will be qualitative, and will include ethnographic-informed observational research, and a systematic review of relevant literature

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Power, politics and evidence: the role of UK professional bodies as intermediaries between research and practice
  • Other research supervisor: Professor Rick Hood


Director of the Alliance for Useful Evidence since it was created at Nesta in 2012. The Alliance champions the smarter use of research and evidence in social policy and practice, through research, ideas, training, and advocacy. Formerly Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, he has had policy roles at the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), the British Academy, and Universities UK.

Jonathan has served as a board member of the Campaign for Social Science, Society for Evidence-Based Policing, and the Cabinet Office What Works Council. He is a Director of the Department for Education's What Works for Children's Social Care which was incubated at Nesta and will be made an independent body in 2020.  His research and professional interests cover politics and psychology, the  relationship between evidence and policy-making, and the role of professional bodies, such as medical Royal Colleges, in applying evidence-based practice. 

Areas of research interest

  • Evidence-informed decision-making
  • professional organisations
  • Social care
  • Education
  • Crime reduction


  • Masters, Politics, SOAS, University of London
  • BSc Psychology, Goldsmiths' College, University of London

Funding or awards received

  • ESRC