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Getting your Research Heard: Ways to Engage with UK Parliament

This blog outlines the key methods and channels for engaging with UK Parliament.

Getting your Research Heard Ways to Engage with UK Parliament

Introduction

Imagine yourself standing as you give research evidence to UK Parliament. You are in front of a specific Select Committee who invited you to speak on your area of expertise based on the written evidence you submitted, or in recognition of your profile in this area. Think of it. Does this feel out of the realms of possibility or likelihood? UK Parliament and influencing this body with our research can seem out of reach, distant, or you may think your work is not ‘relevant’. In my role as the Carnegie School of Sport Impact Lead, I recently participated in the UK Parliament event: Parliament for Researchers, hosted at Queen Mary University in London. The purpose of the event was to demystify and debunk some of the myths that surround how academics think we can engage with Parliament, and to explore the links between Parliament and academia. The training event outlined the ways that we can get involved and share our work at the highest levels of UK Government so it increases the chances of our research having even greater impact at policy levels. When we consider impact as benefit, as a change, then we need to engage with communities, organisations, or individuals outside of academia. Finding the channels that bring about this change can be a challenging part of the research process. It is based on networks, relationships, communicating, and knowing the right outlets for our work. We need to connect and engage with those who can make or influence change.

UK Parliament is one of the biggest influencers of national-level change. It is more than just the Government; Parliament combines the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Monarch, aiming to scrutinise the UK Government, make new laws and change existing ones, check and approve Government spending, and to raise and debate key issues. Parliament offers a powerful route for influencing government policy and priorities. Engaging with Parliament can even lead to impact (and REF-able impact). Nevertheless, it can feel daunting to bring your research to such a body or to contribute to pertinent policy debates and issues.

As a starting point to engaging with UK Parliament, identify an issue that needs to be addressed at a national level; ask yourself the question, ‘What do we want to change?’ Ensure you have a clear idea of what is it that needs to be reformed. Also, establish a clear understanding, accompanied by clearly written evidence, about how you can contribute to this debate. Be up-to-date with what are the current priority areas from the various Parliamentary groups and committees that feed into the Government.

Therefore, if you would like to engage with Parliament and you think you could contribute to some of the current issues being debated at a national policy level, these are the main methods by which to do so:

Impact

Ways to engage with UK Parliament:

Select committees

  • Look out for relevant Select Committees inquiries and calls for written evidence. Submit evidence if your work is relevant. This may lead to an invite to give oral evidence. The link to current open calls for evidence is here. Most relevant for our School at the moment is perhaps the call for written evidence on the topic of ‘Active Travel’ from the Transport Committee.
  • As part of your written evidence, you could also offer to host a visit by a Select Committee here at the School. This will strengthen your evidence case.
  • Committees also sometimes appoint a specialist advisor when expertise is needed to inform oral evidence sessions or shape a report. Advisors are usually academics or expert practitioners.
  • Get in touch with the relevant contact for your chosen Select Committee to suggest a subject for a inquiry to the clerk / staff or members of that committee.

All Party-Parliamentary Groups (APPG)

  • APPGs carry out their own inquiries for which they sometimes use evidence.
  • There are a number of APPGs that are relevant to our School, including APPGs for: Commonwealth Games, Body image, Ageing and older people, Football, Tennis, Women and work, and Sport.
  • Get in touch with the APPG that are relevant to your area of expertise. The current register of groups can be found under the header of ‘subject groups’ on this website.
  • One current call for evidence from the APPG for Women in work is currently seeking written evidence on the issue of inclusivity and intersectionality which may interest some of our colleagues within the School. The deadline for this call is November 2019. Search for the ‘APPG Women and Work’ on Twitter or online to know more about this call for evidence.

Twitter

  • All current calls for evidence and other opportunities to engage with the various Select Committees, APPGs, and UK Parliament more broadly, are most accessible on Twitter.
  • Search for the various committee names (see link in earlier section), or follow @UKParl_Research, or search for any of the relevant APPGs (e.g. the APPG for sport can be found using @appgsport). All APPGs begin with that Twitter handle (APPG).

Academic Fellowships

  • Parliament offers a range of fellowships which enable academics to come and work at Parliament. In October 2019, the new Academic Fellowship will be launched to offer opportunities for academic researchers at any stage of their career to conduct research within Parliament, either examining Parliament itself or producing research to be used by Parliamentarians.
  • To keep an eye on the call for fellowships, please follow this link.

Conclusion

This blog summarises the four main methods of engaging with UK Parliament. To know more, just search online for ‘Parliament and research impact’. To know more about this specific event, or engaging with UK Parliament more generally, please just get in touch. Support is also available for all impact queries at: CarnegieSportImpact@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.

If you would like help or support in putting together written evidence for an open inquiry anytime, please just contact either myself as School Impact Lead or Sam Sherman in the School office. Equally, if you have experience of providing evidence (written or oral), please let me know so that we can support colleagues for future calls.

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About the Author

Dr Leanne Norman

Leanne is a Reader within the Carnegie School of Sport. Her research utilises a critical sociological lens to examine the culture of coaching to address gender equality and provide evidence for the need to diversify the coaching workforce.

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