Targeting policy actors

Policy Week Twitter Q&A: Engagement between Scientists and Politicians

By 24 November 2015

At the final day of Policy Week hosted by the University of Manchester, Research to Action held a live Twitter Q&A during the penultimate session ‘Engagement between Scientists and Politicians: Communication of Evidence and Ideas’. The participative session explored the ways that scientists and politicians interact, highlighting better and more innovative ways for scientists to get their evidence into policy.

The session was hosted by Science Communications Lecturer Sam Illingworth from Manchester Metropolitan University, and panellists included: Amanda Bamford of the University of Manchester, Caroline Kenny from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, the MP Lucy Powell and Richard Walker of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Top tips from the panel included starting to engage policymakers in small and manageable steps, using scientific think tanks to bridge the gap between research and policy, and highlighting where specific research fits within the wider body of evidence as opposed to overemphasising a singular study when presenting evidence to policymakers. The role of social media was also mentioned as a new and exciting way to convey messages to policymakers, by using Twitter or Blogs to summarise and signpost new research outputs.

The panellists touched on the barriers that scientists face when planning or attempting to engage with policy. Examples included the time constraints scientists face when spending time that could have been used conducting research and the anxiety that they might be misquoted or taken out of context.

Throughout the event participants following proceedings on Twitter were able to input their ideas around a series of questions that covered the difference between scientific method and political action, and how communications should be differentiated to incorporate the difference between ideas and evidence. During the latter part of the session the panel was posed a number of questions from the audience but also fed questions directly from the live twitter stream.

A fuller report of the Policy Week session can be found at the University of Manchester’s Policy Blog.

To view a summary of the Twitter Q&A, visit Research to Action’s Storify here.

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  • Annapoorna Ravichander

    This is very interesting. Could I have more information on some of the topics discussed. This will be very useful for our organisation and for my team?