UCL Public Policy


Routes for contributing to public policy in the UK

There are a number of routes through which researchers and academics can contribute to public policy formation, many of which are digital and can be undertaken remotely. These vary in terms of how direct the input is; whether contributions are invitationonly, specifically sought, or open to all; and whether contributions will be cited or published.


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Select Committee inquiries: House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committees hold inquiries throughout the parliamentary year into a wide range of policy issues under their respective remits. Calls for evidence are issued at the beginning of an inquiry. 
See open calls for evidence.

Submissions should be as brief as possible and focus on explaining research findings and conclusions which are relevant to the inquiry.  All submissions are published online and in hard copy, and may be cited in Committee reports. Download our Select Committee Submission guidance and template 

Building relationships with Clerks and Committee specialists can be helpful.
See individual Select Committees.

Public Bill Committee inquiries: Public Bill Committees are formed to scrutinise legislation after the second reading of a Bill in Parliament (the first significant Parliamentary debate on a piece of legislation). They receive written evidence from outside organisations (as well as taking oral evidence) as part of their scrutiny process.

Evidence should be relevant to the particular legislation being considered and as specific as possible. Written evidence is published online and in hard copy. See open calls for evidence.

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST): POST provides scientific advice to MPs, peers and parliamentary staff. It regularly produces briefing notes on particular scientific issues with relevance for policy and seeks academic input into these. Input may be cited in published POSTNotes or other documents.

The best contact is the relevant scientific adviser.

All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs): APPGs vary hugely but the most active will hold regular meetings on specific issues, which it may be possible to attend or speak at. The best contacts are the Secretariat or Chair.
> See the complete list of APPGs.

House of Commons Library: The Commons Library provides research services for MPs and staff and produces a series of research briefings on particular issues and legislation. It also produces briefings in response to requests from individual MPs.

There may be scope to engage with subject specialists to help them draw on academic knowledge in developing briefing notes.

House of Lords Library: The Lords Library prepares research briefings for debates and at the request of peers. Getting on its radar as a useful source of expertise can be helpful.
> See the House of Lords Library

House of Commons Outreach service: Get on their mailing list for latest news and events about Parliamentary activity.


Areas of Research Interest (ARI): ARI documents are published by nearly all government departments. They are separated out by department and make public the main evidence needs they are facing.

ARI documents are useful for researchers as they indicate strategic research questions that a department would like evidence input into in the short to medium term. The questions published are a good place to start a conversation but are not an end in themselves.

Helpfully, ARI documents also provide guidance on where to start engaging civil servants with your research.

The Government Office for Science (GOScience): GO-Science works across the whole of Government to provide scientific advice and evidence to policy teams and ministers. It does not develop policy but synthesises research and evidence, and supports the work of the CSAs. The best contacts are the individual area specialists.
> See also the organisational chart.

Chief Scientific Advisers (CSAs) and their networks: CSAs provide scientific advice to their department which can help to inform the development of policy.

Making contact with CSAs at the right time (i.e. when a particular policy issue is being considered and evidence being sought) can be a useful way of feeding into the process. Establishing a relationship can lead to future opportunities for input.
See the current CSAs.

CSAs operate within a network of science and engineering professionals in Government; again it can be useful to establish contacts with those professionals working in relevant areas and on relevant issues.
> See current policy professions.

Advisory Committees: Many government departments maintain scientific or social science advisory committees, which seek to draw together academic expertise to inform policy development. Details are on individual department websites.

You may wish to consider applying to become a member of such a committee (opportunities are advertised by Government departments as they become available) or whether you may be able to attend seminars organised by the committees.

Government consultations: The Government routinely runs consultations on new policy proposals and on green and white papers. (Green papers are the first iteration of a policy document that will be developed into legislation; white papers are a more final version that will closely inform the development of the relevant Bill.) The consultations are open to anyone. 
> See open consultations.

Foresight: The Foresight team sits within GOScience and has a remit for examining longerterm policy challenges and horizon-scanning. Its inquiries have small permanent advisory committees, largely made up of academic experts, but also draw ad hoc from relevant academic advice.
See current projects and policy areas.

What Works Centres: The What Works initative aims to support the use of evidence in policy and decision-making. The network includes a number of centres focused on key policy issues of health and social care, education, crime reduction, economic growth and wellbeing. The centres help to ensure that robust evidence shapes decision-making at every level by collating evidence, conducting systematic reviews and undertaking policy evaluations. There are different ways to get involved with each of them.
See individual What Works Centre websites

Third sector / Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Learned societies/professional bodies: Many learned societies and professional bodies (e.g. Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society, Institute of Physics, The British Academy) also conduct policy work (generally within their remit). Some will have academic expert committees but also be interested in other contributions from academia. Significant contributions or advice should be cited in written reports.

Charities: Charities will often be interested in academic evidence, either to feed into their work or for specific projects. Any significant contributions or advice given should be cited in written reports. The best contact will usually be the policy officers or policy advisers working in your area of interest.

Think tanks: Think tanks will often seek academic input into particular pieces of work or as part of bigger projects. Any significant contributions or advice should be cited in written reports. A think tank may also have an advisory board which includes academics, so joining that can help to build networks and provide a platform for research-informed policy engagement. The best contact will usually be research fellows or policy advisers working in relevant areas.

See more how-to guides