Evaluation of Project Oracle

This report presents the findings of the evaluation of Project Oracle.

This report presents the findings of the evaluation of Project Oracle

Key findings

  • Project Oracle is a much needed initiative, with strong demand for its services.
  • The Standards of Evidence provide a useful tool for youth service providers to select an appropriate evaluation methodology.
  • Providers require more support to move up through the levels. The evaluation found that no organisation had moved beyond Standard 2 on the Standards of Evidence, and many felt that the use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were inappropriate to their work.
  • Research placements – whereby academic researchers are matched with a youth service provider – are beneficial to both researcher and providers, with strong relationships forged and useful work undertaken.
  • If Project Oracle is to spread effective practice, then attention needs to be paid to encouraging organisations to share their evaluation results. At the moment some organisations are concerned their idea may be ‘stolen’.

Project Oracle is the only city-wide evidence generation campaign of its kind anywhere in the world. This London-based initiative strives to bring evaluations of youth programmes in line with academically recognised standards of evidence, and link this with decision making.

This evaluation explores the development and expansion of Project Oracle, providing recommendations on what has worked, as well as areas for improvement in the future. As well as guiding future iterations of Project Oracle, we hope the lessons will also inspire other evidence initiatives around the world, such as the What Works Network. 

Summary report: Ruth Puttick
Full report: Rosie Gloster and Jane Aston, Institute of Employment Studies


Ruth Puttick

Ruth Puttick

Ruth Puttick

Principal Researcher - Public and Social Innovation

Ruth was Principal Researcher for public and social innovation. Ruth joined the Nesta policy and research team in 2009, working on a range of projects across innovation, investment and…

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