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Researcher Blog: Dr Joe Langley at Miami Transforming Evidence event

8 Nov 2022

Research Fellow Joe Langley reflects on his research trip to Miami, Florida, in October 2022. Joe was invited to attend the International Transforming Evidence Network conference and to co-deliver a workshop session.   


Some time ago, I was invited to attend the International Transforming Evidence Network conference taking place in Miami 4th-6th Oct 2022. The Transforming Evidence Network (TEN) is a global, cross-sectoral platform for evidence experts to learn and innovate together about making, mobilizing, and using evidence. Making, Mobilizing, and Using Evidence in Policy and Practice was its inaugural conference. The event was invitation only and I think I was lucky enough to get the invitation because of a collaborator (Prof Annette Boaz) on an NIHR project (Research Practice Partnerships). Annette is co-director of the Transforming Evidence Network.

Sunset in Miami

Transforming evidence

I was also invited to co-deliver a workshop session on the third day (6th) from 9:00am-10:30am with four other people I had never met. The session was titled “Learning Across Contexts: Approaches, Tools and Technologies for Evidence Mobilisation” and the co-presenters for this session were Prof Alan DalyJulian ElliottProf Taylor Scott and Prof Gabrielle Wong-Parodi.

I travelled to Miami on 1st Oct to give myself some time to get over jet lag – not that this worked. I still found myself waking at unsocial hours of the morning. But others had had a similar idea and through Sunday, I began to catch up with familiar faces I hadn’t seen since before COVID. 

A bike ride around the Everglades before the conference

Annette had invited a small group of people to join her for a bike ride around the Everglades in the Monday morning and this proved a wonderful way of meeting new people, catching up with old friends, seeing alligators (!) and just experiencing a little more of the destination than the conference venue. It worked surprising well as a networking activity too.

A crocodile spotted in the Everglades

Making, Mobilizing and Using Evidence Conference

TEN Making, Mobilizing and Using Evidence conference opening slide, October 2022

The Transforming Evidence Network community

The conference was pretty awesome. It was a slightly unusual collection of academics from across fields relating to health, education, climate change, global development and more. All of them had a passion and interest in how evidence is used. Now people with this interest are usually slightly out of the ordinary as far as academics go – I can say this: I’m one of them. There is no typical academic career progression path for people with this focus and so they become a collection of individuals who often have had quite meandering narratives about carer trajectory, discipline or career hoping stories, and a huge appreciation for diversity. A super interesting group!

This was amplified further by the event in Miami because the organisers had also invited lots of non-academic folk: practitioners, policy professionals, funders, boundary-spanners, intermediaries and other evidence experts across different sectors, disciplines and countries. It was a huge, exciting and crazy interesting mis-mash of people with this single unifying passion for getting evidence informed policy.

Conference activities

On Day 1 the event launched with a welcome and reception, virtually on Miami beach. Day 2 had quite a focus on the problems, and Day 3 had a stronger focus on ideas, solutions and looking forward.

Photo of Miami beach
Miami beach

The whole things was incredibly valuable but Day 3 definitely had huge energy and positive vibe to it. Funders (including people from the UK) were incredibly responsive; they appeared to accept the need for greater investment in co-produced research, for building relationships around research co-production and for supporting implementation/evaluation cycles.

Conference session

Workshop Session

The session I was involved in was on Day 3, focussing on ideas and solutions. All five co-presenters picked a specific technology or tool that supported evidence use, and gave a super brief 5-minute pitch. Next, we adopted a world café style session where each presenter took a table and demonstrated their tool or technology for 15 minutes. Notes were captured and then the attendees rotated to a second table for another 15 minute demo. We then all came back together, exchanged notes and learning, contrasted the tools and approaches and pulled together some thoughts.

I took the opportunity to share some co-design games that had been developed to introduce evidence to groups of co-design partners. I gave an overview and in the World Café sessions people tried them out.

Example of Function First project co-design game materials that Joe demonstrated in the workshop

Read Joe’s Researcher blog: Guest editing a Special Issue for Evidence & Policy during COVID


The whole event, organised by the Transforming Evidence Network, was invigorating and inspiring. Even without the session I contributed to, there was a real value in being present, listening, learning and contributing to the dialogue.

The passion for change was palpable and one hopes that this moves forward to turn into actions.

Personally, I was struck most by comments about inequity, a need for white people to take on the burden of diversifying, a need to decolonise not just methods but entire academic systems and a need for all hierarchies to be stripped away, including the evidence hierarchy. 

I hope to be able to attend the next one and continue to learn from and contribute to this dialogue.

Wordcloud from the conference

Further reading