Lindsay Walker, Lindsey Pike, Marsha Wood, Hannah Durrant
Access to reliable and timely evidence is essential for parliaments to effectively execute their four main functions of scrutiny, legislation, debating and financial oversight. Sources of evidence can be diverse, with academic research only one type of information that is used in parliamentary processes.
A substantial recent study, led by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), examined the role of academic research in the UK Parliament. Findings revealed that, while research in its broadest sense is useful for parliamentary work, challenges remain, with academic research still “not cutting through”. General surveys and follow-up interviews – including with MPs, MPs’ staff, parliamentary staff and peers – identified lack of accessibility and poor communication as challenges to the use of academic research. For example, evidence in academic sources was commonly thought to be presented in a complicated way, with one MP commenting: “Academic research is usually not that user-friendly from our point of view as users”. An earlier study of UK parliamentary staff also found that academic research was seen to be “too abstruse.” Continue reading
This piece originally appeared on the author’s Writing for Research blog.
You’ve just published a research article – why should you bother writing a blog post about it? Patrick Dunleavy argues that if you’ve devoted months to writing the paper, dealing with comments, doing rewrites and hacking through the publishing process, why would you not spend the extra couple of hours crafting an accessible blogpost? Here he breaks down in eleven easy steps how to generate a short-form version of your research article.
One of the oddest things that people in academic life regularly say to me is: ‘I’m not paid to write blogposts, only research articles. If my department or the grant-funder wants to start paying me for doing posts, then that would be a different matter’. Or alternatively, the argument goes: ‘I just don’t have the time to do blogging’. Or finally, the clinching rebuttal is: ‘Your blogpost just won’t get cited, and in today’s research environment, only citations count’.
Apparently then a lot of folk suffer from some serious misconceptions about what writing a blogpost entails:
- They think it takes days, weeks, or even months to produce that difficult bit of text — it doesn’t, it takes two or three hours at most.
- They believe that time devoted to a blogpost is time away from your main research — it’s not. Your post is done after you’ve finished and published your journal article — it is just a more readable and hopefully more popular version of that article, with key messages summarized in about 1,000 words.
- Perhaps they also think that publishing a blogpost takes the time and hassle involved in submitting to journals, trekking through box after box of obscure electronic publishing bureaucracy, and then waiting weeks or months before seeing a proof, and months more for publication. But publishing a post is not like that at all. You get your 1,000 words finished in Word or equivalent. Include a table or a chart or two, being scrupulous to present them well. Then send it to a multi-author blog with a big readership in your field and a couple of days later your text is online at the blog.