Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation


We are a large and interdisciplinary social science research centre that draws together and coordinates the research of over 90 academic, research and support staff and over 20 doctoral full-time research students from across Queen's University, Belfast. The centre is one of the University’s flagship ‘pioneer research programmes’ identified for priority support and strategic investment.


The Centre builds upon over 20 years of internationally excellent and world-leading research at Queen's on children and families. The Centre draws together the work associated with the former Institute for Child Care Research (ICCR) and the Centre for Effective Education (CEE). It also continues to take forward the interdisciplinary work that began with the cross-University Improving Children's Lives initiative. This current phase that seeks to consolidate these various strands of work at Queen's into this new Centre has been made possible by the generous support of The Atlantic Philanthropies.


We seek to improve the lives of children, families and communities by working in partnership to create robust evidence to find innovative solutions to key social problems.


Working with key stakeholders, our research supports the development, delivery and evaluation of a wide and diverse range of social interventions. We are currently running over 30 externally-funded research projects that are organised around six focused programmes of work.

We have extensive expertise in the use of innovative qualitative and advanced quantitative methods for increasing our understanding of the nature and extent of particular social problems. We are also leading the way internationally in the use of randomized controlled trials to evaluate the impact of complex social interventions and of systematic reviews to synthesise and learn from existing evidence.

Our research often challenges existing assumptions and taken-for-granted practices and helps us to identify new and innovative approaches to tackling long-standing social problems. We place a particular emphasis on early intervention and prevention, reflecting our commitment to tackling social problems at their root and before they arise or have time to take hold.


We are concerned not just with how well social interventions are delivered and thought of but, fundamentally, with whether they are effective. At the heart of our work, therefore, is a focus on the outcomes of social interventions and, more specifically, whether they do actually lead to measurable and lasting improvements in the health and social wellbeing of children, families and communities.


We value the many partnerships we have developed with a wide and diverse range of non-governmental organisations, government departments and agencies and voluntary and community groups. By involving key stakeholders in all aspects of our work - from the identification of priority areas for research through to the design, interpretation and communication of research findings - we seek to ensure that our research is relevant and has significant and demonstrable impact.

Alongside collaborations in relation to individual research projects we have also invested in long-term relationships with local communities through the notion of innovation zones.

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