Nick Axford, PhD

Senior Associate - Extensive research experience in evidence/literature reviews of ‘what works’ and conducting randomised controlled trials of services for children.

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Dartington, Devon

Nick’s research interests are evidence-based prevention and early intervention to improve child well-being, notably designing services and evaluating their effectiveness and implementation.

He is particularly interested in forms of intervention that have the potential to achieve impact at scale and in methods for their developing and testing – including co-production with users and the use of rapid cycle innovation. He also enjoys engaging in debates about the value of evidence-based approaches in children’s services.

Nick holds a PhD in Advanced Social Work and Probation Studies from the University of Exeter and is currently a PenCLAHRC Associate Professor in Health Services Research at Plymouth University. Previously, Nick worked at Dartington Social Research Unit from 1997-2017, initially as a PhD Researcher and latterly as a Senior Researcher and Head of What Works.


Selected publications

Axford, N. and Berry, V. (2017) Perfect bedfellows: why early intervention can play a critical role in protecting children – a response to Featherstone et al. (2014) ‘A marriage made in hell: child protection meets early intervention’. British Journal of Social Work Advance access 18 March,

Axford, N. and Morpeth, L. (2013) Evidence-based programs in children’s services: a critical appraisal. Children and Youth Services Review 35 (2), 268-277.

Axford, N., Lehtonen, M., Tobin, K., Kaoukji, D. and Berry, V. (2012) Engaging parents in parenting programs: lessons from research and practice. Children and Youth Services Review 34 (10), 2061-2071.

Axford, N. (2008) Exploring Concepts of Child Well-being: Implications for Children’s Services, Bristol, Policy Press.