New research collaboration strengthens evidence-based policymaking in Parliament

A new collaboration that will see three academics integrated into the heart of Parliament will be launched today (Monday 21 November).

At an event in Parliament, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST), together with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will announce the appointment of three new academic positions of “Head of thematic research”, funded by the ESRC.

The three postholders will each join new thematic policy hubs that will bring together staff from POST, the House of Commons Library and select committee teams, ensuring better coordination and flow of research information across Parliament. .

Thematic Research Officers will strengthen links with the research community by bringing policy-oriented thematic research to the offices of MPs, Lords and those working in Parliament. Based on the concept of chief scientific advisers, they will ensure a strong evidence base for debate and legislation.

At an event in Parliament, keynote speaker Sir Patrick Vallance, whose role as chief scientific adviser has taken on such importance during the Covid 19 pandemicsaid:

“The role of research and evidence in policy-making has never been more important. Building on the work of POST, these fellowships will play a vital role, giving parliamentarians additional access to the best independent evidence to inform their activities and ensure effective and fair policy.

A successful collaboration

For nearly a decade, the ESRC has worked with Parliament by investing in the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). Together, they have integrated social science research into Parliament, developed a world-class knowledge exchange unit, and established a culture of knowledge exchange between Parliament and the research community.

Professor Alison Park, Acting Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), said:

“This launch event marks the next step in almost a decade of very fruitful collaboration between the ESRC and POST. The ESRC is currently funding three excellent scholars from different disciplines to be the first Thematic Research Officers in the UK Parliament.

I look forward to seeing how these roles place research evidence at the heart of Parliament’s work to address society’s most pressing challenges. In particular, I hope that this new investment will continue to strengthen Parliament’s ability to work with academics, as well as help create a new generation of policy-minded academics.

The named researchers

The three thematic research officers are the first to take on these new roles and will begin work in January 2023. Each academic will join a different thematic policy hub, working alongside parliamentary research staff to share their unbiased expertise and in-depth knowledge of a political domain. They will bring insights from the wider academic community and support forward-looking analysis to ensure parliamentarians and their staff are able to access relevant, high-quality research information on current and future issues.

The named scholars and their policy areas are:

  • Dr Tamsin Edwards, Lecturer in Climate Change, King’s College London. Dr. Edwards will lead on climate and the environment;
  • Dr Rick Whitaker, Associate Professor of European Politics, University of Leicester. Dr. Whitaker will lead Parliament, public administration and the constitution; and
  • Dr Kristen Harkness, Director, Institute for the Study of War and Strategy, University of St Andrews. Dr Harkness will lead international affairs and defence.

Adam Afriyie MP, Chairman of the Board of POSTsaid:

“We live in a world where fake news can gain traction in an instant and where evidence can be shunned in favor of guesswork. This collaboration is a real opportunity to ensure that unbiased evidence and research is at the heart of our Parliament. These new positions will allow MPs and policy makers to find relevant and, above all, accurate data at a time when it is more vital than ever. »

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commonssaid:

“This is an exciting development for Parliament. POST has always been an exceptional resource for colleagues. From now on, we will have truly integrated links with academia in our Parliament and access to the latest scientific knowledge.

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