Workshops for scientists

AN INTRODUCTION TO SCIENCE POLICY

The purpose of this project is to deliver interactive workshops, materials and web resources, with specialists involved in the policy-making processes providing scientists and engineers with an improved understanding of the policy process as well as giving them ‘hints and tips’ on how to communicate their ideas and research findings to policy-makers.

The workshops are open to researchers at all stages of their careers– from student to senior professor. For information about current workshops, see the “latest news” section to the right of this page.

Webcast

Videos of the ‘Introduction to Science Policy Workshop’ held at the Institute of Physics in November 2011 are now available on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQlFdiHPyD8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MNhJGSuO98&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Newton’s Apple developed these workshops because, although there are numerous training programmes offered to scientists and engineers in the areas of science media and public engagement, there are no equivalent opportunities for them to receive a similar high standard of information on the policy processes and the use of science in policy.

Workshop structure;

An introduction to Science Policy; supplemented with educational materials explaining the field of Science Policy.

Guest Panellists; who are either officials from Government bodies/structures or Parliamentarians who can  provide  information from their own unique perspective on ways in which scientists can communicate their research to a policy audience.  Others are science policy advisors from Learned Societies who provide information on the importance and role of these bodies in the policy making processes.

Discussion; Participants are then given the opportunity to question the panellists on science policy issues and how the science-into-policy process can be improved, including how information about the policy process can be given more effectively to them through funding bodies, Government and other organisations.

Since 2008  Newton’s Apple has run 20 successful workshops as part of the Newton’s Heirs programme.  Those include 11 held in the Place of Westminster, 7 for postgraduates in Universities of East Anglia, Hull and University College London, and 2 in partnership with the Institute of Physics.  To date over 500 young scientists in the early stages of their careers have participated in these events.

Following every Workshop each participants is asked to complete a simple evaluation form which provided us with feedback.  They are asked to estimate their understanding of policy matters prior to attending the workshop on a 4 point scale ranging from ‘no understanding’ to an ‘in-depth understanding’.  They are then asked to rate their understanding after the Workshop on the same scale. Over 95% of participants have provided completed feedback forms.  The majority of participants are either PhD students or postdoctoral researchers and most claim no, or only some, understanding of policy matters before the workshop and almost all say that their knowledge of this area has increased by at least one point in the scale and many claim to have increased by two or more points.

Participants are also given the opportunity in the feedback form to provide written comments as selection of typical remarks are shown below.  These comments are taken into account when planning future Workshops.

Comments from Participants in Workshops

“Great – this should be more widely offered – e.g. in Universities and career services.”

“Getting the MP’s perspective was very enlightening – really useful and interesting”

“I hadn’t realised how important scientists were in influencing policy.”

“It was very interesting and useful to hear from people involved in different aspects of the policy process.”

“Good range of speakers, welcomed the opportunity to ask questions.”

“I greatly enjoyed all parts of the workshop, especially the discussion.”

“The materials provided will be very useful for me and I will look up several of the reports mentioned.”

“The debate & the paper materials were useful and interesting.”

“Great to get viewpoints from so many experienced people.”

“Well worthwhile, Thank you.”

“I liked hearing about how the policy process was explained with first hand examples.”

“I enjoyed the fact that the panel was composed of 4 people speaking from different points of view.”

“Useful information pack from Newton’s Apple; it will be good for future reference/contacts.”

“A good introduction – thank you to the speakers, truly extraordinary people.”

“I liked learning about the roles of scientists in Government.”

“I was pleased that we heard from a good range of perspectives: elected, civil servants and external.”

For more information about the Newton’s Heirs workshops, read the report.