POST: The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

POST, is a bicameral body that bridges research and policy. With more than 30 years of experience in sourcing reliable and up-to-date research evidence for the UK Parliament, POST is one of the first bodies of its kind in the world.

What do we do?

POST produces impartial, non-partisan, and peer-reviewed briefings, designed to make scientific research accessible to the UK Parliament. The briefings come in the form of POSTnotes and POSTbriefs. Timely and forward thinking, they cover the areas of biology and health, energy and environment, physical sciences and computing, and social sciences.

Beyond that, POST:

  • Organises parliamentary horizon scanning activities.
  • Offers a range of services to Select Committees.
  • Trains the next generation of policy shapers through the POST fellowship and other schemes.
  • Holds seminars and events for UK Parliament and the public.
  • Develops best practice with legislatures across the globe and supports foreign research advisory bodies.
  • Facilitates knowledge exchange between UK Parliament and research communities.

Analysis

Our flagship output, the POSTnote, is a four page research briefing that reviews the current research landscape in emerging areas, ensuring accuracy and impartiality. Interviews with tens of experts and stakeholders as well as rigorous internal and external peer review, make for a trusted report that help Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and UK Parliament staff navigate complex research. POSTnotes typically take two to three months to produce, allowing for a thorough literature and peer review while ensuring timely production. POSTnote topics are a product of horizon scanning undertaken by our team of advisers. Topic proposals are taken to a board of parliamentarians and external experts who in turn prioritise which proposals will be made into POSTnotes.

POSTbriefs are dynamic and strategic evidence syntheses that are produced rapidly in response to major developments in current affairs or Select Committee inquiries. POSTbrief production focuses on summarising the available research literature, allowing them to be produced in one month. As POSTbriefs don’t follow the strict four-page limit, they can provide in-depth analyses of complex research, reactively presenting evidence on various topics of interest. POSTbriefs can be requested by Select Committees of both Houses to aid in scoping inquiries or to provide background reading for Members.

Horizon scanning

To produce timely and forward-thinking analysis, our team of advisers needs to closely monitor the research landscape. By utilising their expertise and extensive network, POST advisers are able to curate information on emerging topics, and other areas of interest for the UK Parliament. We refer to this process as horizon scanning, and while it never ends, once a year we produce a summary report, meant to capture a 5-year horizon of emerging areas.

POST fellowships

POST provides training to the next generation of policy shapers through a range of fellowship schemes. In partnership with their funder, successful PhD students are invited to UK Parliament to work at POST. While fellows typically get to help us with the production of a POSTnote or POSTbrief, this once in a lifetime opportunity to view the epicentre of policy-making from the inside may also include a secondment to a Select Committee or the House of Commons or House of Lords Libraries. By the end of their time at POST, our fellows learn how to write for policy with balance and impartiality. They also develop a unique understanding of Westminster and forge important relationships with key stakeholders, while often delving into a novel and exciting topic of research.

Knowledge exchange

Research is integral to the work of POST, and for 30 years we have always maintained strong connections with the research community. To strengthen and develop these links within POST as well as across the whole of the UK Parliament, POST has formed a Knowledge Exchange Unit. The Knowledge Exchange Unit provides information, advice, and a point of contact at UK Parliament for the research community. It trains researchers, publicises opportunities for engagement, and supports academics who want to share their research expertise with UK Parliament. It connects UK Parliament with researchers, helping parliamentarians gain access to the best available research evidence.

Events

POST is committed to making research accessible to the UK Parliament. To achieve this we host a range of events throughout the year, which aim to give parliamentarians and staff the opportunity to hear directly from leading experts. POST events range from closed intimate round-table discussions for parliamentarians, to presentations to academic delegations, seminars on key topics, and even full-day conferences open to the public, often in collaboration with major academic bodies. We strive to ensure accessibility, representation, balance and impartiality, which is why our events draw from a wide range of topics and bring a diverse selection of specialists and stakeholders to share their expertise.