Engaging with civil servants or elected representatives (councillors, MSPs and MPs) can be an excellent route to realising the impacts of your research and practice. Whether, you submit written evidence, provide oral testimony, or act as an independent advisor there are many formal and informal ways of engaging.

The direct or indirect influence of your parliamentary engagement, can affect real, positive change for regions and nations, changing the lives of millions of people.

Working with the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament outlines ways in which academics can engage with the Parliament on their website, including the following.

  • Academic Fellows - The annual Fellowship Scheme enables academics at a senior (post-PhD) career level to spend time working with SPICe on a specific project which will have mutual benefit to the academic and to the Scottish Parliament.

  • Respond to a current consultation. If you are providing written evidence, the Style Writing Guide is recommended reading.
  • Present your research at the Scottish Parliament, including the popular Wednesday morning breakfast seminars.
  • Hosting a Parliamentary Committee in August. This is an important time for committees as they set the legislation for the next year. Parliamentary Committees look to host away days in areas related to their work programme.

Working with the Westminster Parliament

Each year the Royal Society pairs 30 research scientists with UK parliamentarians and civil servants. They learn about each other’s work by spending time together in Westminster and the researcher’s institutions.

Those taking part gain an insight into how research findings can help inform policy making, and come away with a better understanding of how they can get involved.

How does the scheme work?

Next year’s pairing scheme will be held in person, with the ‘Week in Westminster’ taking place in March 2024. Over the week the scientists will take part in workshops, hear from invited speakers and spend time with their pair. The MP, Peer or Civil Servant will then be invited to visit the scientist’s home institution and learn more about their work in person.

Applications will open in October 2023. For more information visit the Royal Society's website.

The Scottish Parliament Academia Network - SPAN

Scottish Parliament Academia Network logo. White text, navy blue background 'Scottish Parliament Academia Network'It is very clear that the clerks and the researchers of the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) are seeking the expert and impartial advice from academics across Scotland. The University is proud to partner with SPICe in the Scottish Parliament Academia Network (SPAN). This is just one of the formal and informal methods we use to engage with the Scottish Parliament.

The network was set up in 2014 between SPICe, Scotland’s Futures Forum, Beltane and Scottish Universities Insight Institute to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange between the Scottish Parliament and the academic community. Over the last seven years SPAN has run 2 events a year aimed at knowledge exchange professionals, as well as academics and Parliament staff.

The University has prepared a Scottish Parliament Engagement briefing based on advice from SPAN. This network has also created the Ask-academia mailing list, which clerks and researchers use to share information directly with Scottish universities.

We have also prepared a briefing sheet on the Parliamentary Work of MSPs in North East Scotland.

Jon Urch is the University of Dundee's contact person for SPAN.


Scottish Policy & Research Exchange - SPRE

The logo of the Scottish Policy & Research Exchange. White background with purple circles connecting to each otherThe University is also a member of the Scottish Policy & Research Exchange. SPRE supports researchers and officials as they seek smart solutions to policy challenges. It is a network of professionals working together to deliver evidence-informed policy in practice. There activities fall in three broad areas.

  • Training and mentoring opportunities delivered in conjunction with partners
  • Digital platforms providing tools for researchers and policy professionals
  • Bespoke tools addressing particular policy challenges

Jon Urch and Daniela Bolle are University of Dundee's contact persons for SPRE.


Universities Policy Engagement Network - UPEN

The Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN) logo. A pentagon with five shaded blue segments with the text 'Universities Policy Engagement Network' at the sideThe University of Dundee is proud to be part of the Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN). UPEN is network of UK universities who are working together to increase the public policy impact from their research.

UPEN offers a dedicated contact point for policymakers, and a collective response to requests for evidence.

It organises knowledge exchange events with government, parliament, devolved bodies, and identifies mechanisms to take forward specific projects.

Our University membership gives us access to events for members, organised by UPEN.

Jon Urch is the University of Dundee's contact person for UPEN.