Do governments lean on researchers who evaluate their policies to try to get them to produce politically useful results? Do researchers buckle under such pressure? This article, based on a survey of 205 academics who have recently completed commissioned research for government, looks at the degree to which British government departments seek to produce research that is designed to provide ‘political ammunition’, above all making them ‘look good’ or minimizing criticism of their policies. Looking at different stages in the research process – from deciding which policies to evaluate, shaping the nature and conduct of inquiry, and writing the results – the article finds evidence of government sponsors making significant efforts to produce politically congenial results. For the most part, researchers appear to resist these efforts, though the evidence base (researchers' own accounts of their work) suggests that this conclusion be treated with some caution.