Findings by former Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, into the scale and significance of the non-publication of government commissioned research have been published in Missing Evidence: Inquiry into delayed publication of government-commissioned research.
Sir Stephen was asked by the charity Sense about Science (of which he is a trustee) to undertake the inquiry following a series of media stories alleging that government research was being suppressed or delayed due to political sensitivity.
Sir Stephen investigated nine cases in which government research was being withheld. His report found that:
- The UK government spends around £2.5 billion a year on research for policy, but does not know how many studies it has commissioned or which of them have been published.
- Only 4 out of 24 government departments maintain a database of research they have commissioned.
- Government officials are forced to use Google to track down their department’s research.
- Rules which require prompt publication of government commissioned research are weak and open to political opportunism.
For further details about the inquiry go to Sense about Science.
The inquiry report can be seen here.
Sense About Science works with scientists and members of the public to change public debates and to equip people to make sense of science and evidence.