British academy


Enquiry, Evidence and Facts:
An Interdisciplinary Conference

Thursday 13 and Friday 14 December 2007, 9.15am–5.30pm
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Convenors: Professor William Twining, FBA, UCL; Professor Mary Morgan, FBA, FKNAW, London School of Economics; Professor Philip Dawid, UCL; and Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, UCL

In association with The Leverhulme Trust/ESRC funded research programmes on 'The Nature of Evidence' at UCL and LSE


This conference was organised jointly with The Leverhulme Trust/ESRC funded research programmes on 'The Nature of Evidence', 'Evidence, Inference and Enquiry: Towards an Integrated Science of Evidence' at UCL and 'How well do "facts" travel?' at LSE.

Evidence has a high profile in the public eye because of the convergence of a number of recent developments, such as reliance on new kinds of evidence that are hard to understand or convey yet are critical in individual decisions (e.g. statistical assessment of DNA analysis in courts); the importance of disputed evidence in key policy decisions (e.g. post 9/11 intelligence in the UK, climate change facts in the USA); the use of both social science and natural science evidence together (e.g. decisions about value for money for medical treatments or the way to deal with foot and mouth disease). There is a lack of agreement on the extent to which one can generalise about facts, evidence and inferential reasoning across disciplines, contexts and types of enquiry because of some fundamental questions about the nature of evidence.

The aims of the conference:

  • to debate the different theoretical, methodological and practical approaches to the study of evidence and the way that facts are acquired and used across different fields
  • to explore the ways in which facts travel within and between fields, a process essential to generate common multi- or interdisciplinary understandings of how evidence is constituted and used in making judgements
  • to provide a forum for the presentation of completed and ongoing research on these topics from a broad range of academic and practice-based researchers using a wide range of disciplinary bases in the social sciences and humanities and in related natural science fields
  • to promote networking and cross-fertilization of ideas amongst researchers and practitioners in the expanding interdisciplinary concern with the nature of facts and evidence and to explore the commonalities of concepts

There were poster displays featuring the work of the 'Evidence' research programmes.

Organised in association with

evidence logo           facts logo 

The conference was preceded on Wednesday 12 December 2007 by:
UCL Evidence research satellite meeting
Evidence, Inference & Enquiry: Towards an integrated science of evidence
at UCL Old Refectory