Impact.Engagement. Communications. Policy. Do these feel like words which don’t apply to you? Let’s look at it another way. Would you like to see your research being used at the UK Parliament? Would you like your evidence to feed into the scrutiny of Government? Would you like your findings to inform debates in the House of Commons Chamber? Aha – are you a bit more interested now?
Perhaps you didn’t know that the UK Parliament uses academic research evidence in all its core activities: scrutinising the UK Government, debating matters of the day, legislating, and approving taxes and spending. In short Parliament uses research to help it hold the Government to account and to shape policy and decisions.
Parliament is keen to be using more of the best available research evidence, from a wide range of universities (including small and specialist institutions). That is why the new Knowledge Exchange Unit has been set up. We support the exchange of information and expertise between Parliament and the research community; find out more here: Knowledge Exchange Unit.
We’d like to share here some ways that Parliament uses research, and tips on how you could feed your research in. And if this feels like a lot of information, don’t panic. And at the end of this post are some suggestions for practical first steps you can take towards engaging with Parliament.
Select committees conduct inquiries into various topics. The inquiry process includes seeking written ‘evidence’ and holding oral evidence sessions. Anyone can submit written evidence. You can find out more about these here: ‘Select Committees’. Find out which are the relevant select committees for you, and start to follow their work, either by signing up for alerts from their individual webpages, or by following them on Twitter. Select committees also advertise for specialist advisers from time to time, so keep an eye out for these opportunities.
POST (the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) produces briefings on topics in science, technology and the social sciences. You could propose a topic for a briefing, contribute to a briefing currently being written, or participate in peer review of a briefing before it is published. You can find out more about POST here: POST. From this page you can also sign up to the mailing list to receive details of POST’s work programme and also public events.
POST also coordinates several fellowships for both PhD students and those who are further on in their career. Find out more here: Fellowships.
Both the House of Commons and Lords have libraries which provide research services. In practice, this means they answer enquiries from Members, and they also write briefings. Their briefings tend to be reactive, on topics receiving a lot of media or parliamentary attention, ahead of a debate or as a Bill is going through Parliament. Your expertise and that of your colleagues could be useful to the libraries. The best way to proceed here is to have a look at the kinds of briefings they produce through the research briefing portal and then, if you feel you have expertise that maps onto policy areas getting a lot of interest, get in contact with the libraries by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief introduction of yourself and your expertise.
There are many All Party Parliamentary Groups in Parliament. These are informal cross-party interest groups that have no official status within Parliament. They hold meetings to exchange information around their subject area of interest, bring in experts to talk at events and sometimes conduct inquiries. You could get involved with an APPG by contacting them and offering to deliver a talk or contribute to their work. There is a register of them here which also provides contact details.
So what to do next? Here are your first steps towards getting your research into Parliament.
- Identify relevant select committees (full list of committees here) and follow them.
- Get to grips with the kinds of topics the libraries and POST write briefings on (briefings here)
- Identify relevant APPGs (APPG register)
- Think about why you want to engage with Parliament, i.e. what would you like to achieve? This will help you work out who to engage with and how.
- Look at Parliament’s web hub for researchers (www.parliament.uk/research-impact) for lots of information about how to work with Parliament and how Parliament uses research.
- If you are Twitter, follow @UKParl_Research for opportunities and useful information on contributing in Parliament as researcher.