Making Science Policies in the UK

Scientists may be experts in their own fields, but how do they communicate their knowledge to politicians?

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Whilst the Houses of Parliament may be the home of British politics, the politicians cannot make reasonable laws without consulting those who understand the subject best.

Politicians need to make informed decisions, but in order to do that they need somebody to translate jargon-filled scientific literature into something more easy to understand. In the UK, POSTnotes are written, four page documents from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

Usually written by visiting PhD students, these publications summarise scientific data and arguments on a particular topic. Examples of recent POSTnotes include:

These POSTnotes provide the government with evidence which they can consider when creating new laws, or when deciding appropriate levels of funding on specific projects.

The role of POST in advising the current government on science policy is set to become even more important with Brexit. Rightly, or wrongly, Brexit will create new opportunities for the British government to rewrite our science policy. In the years to come, POST must ensure that the scientific community is heard when the government picks which EU laws it adopts, including a potential ban of harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.

All previous POSTnotes are listed on their website, and intend to be readable for those with even the most basic of scientific backgrounds. If you have a topic you think POST should investigate, they have a form that you can fill out.

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