How can academics get involved with the Senedd’s work?

Published 04/12/2017   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

The Welsh Parliament, commonly known as the Senedd, is the democratically elected body that represents the interests of Wales and its people. It makes laws for Wales, agrees Welsh taxes and holds the Welsh Government to account.

Academic engagement or knowledge exchange with the Senedd is of benefit both to academic researchers and to the Senedd and there are many different ways to get involved.

Here are some top tips on how to engage with us:

Keep up to date with current issues

The Senedd is a very dynamic, fast paced institution where many issues affecting the people of Wales are discussed at any one time. To inform debate and improve the making of policy and new laws, the Senedd needs access to the best possible research and expertise to help inform debate and scrutiny of policy.

This ranges from specific research on the impact of current Welsh Government policies and spending, to knowledge and expertise that can help Members of the Senedd consider the longer-term challenges and opportunities facing Wales.

By keeping up to date with what is being discussed, you will find out the best time to engage and maximise the impact that your knowledge can have.

There are several different ways to find out what is happening at the Senedd:

Know who to contact

There are a number of routes through which academics can feed their research into the Senedd:

Members of the Senedd (MS)

  • Find out which issues a MS is interested in and involved in by looking at their MS profile. These profiles list which Committees and Cross-Party Groups they are part of, as well as their own personal interests. Many MSs will also have their own personal website which can be a source of information. Check out the area of Wales that a MS represents here.
  • Meet with a MS either at their constituency office or at the Senedd.
  • Attend events organised by a MS.

Senedd Committees

Senedd Committees are groups of MSs from the different political parties represented in the Senedd. Each Committee is set up to look at a broad area of policy (eg: education, health, environment), and it will scrutinise proposed laws (Bills) and carry out inquiries into devolved policy areas. A full list of current Senedd Committees can be seen here.

How to get involved with a Committee:

  • If a Committee is collecting information on a topic it will put out a call for evidence on its webpage. A list of current calls for evidence can be seen here.
  • If your research is relevant to the topic being discussed you may be invited as a witness to give evidence at a Committee meeting.
  • If more detailed, technical expertise is required on an important issue an expert panel may be created.
  • A Committee may invite an expert to act as an adviser for a particular piece of work
  • In addition to formal written or oral evidence, Committees may also gather information through visits to particular places or institutions, or use online voting or survey systems.

Further information on getting involved with Committees can be seen in this guide (PDF,225KB).

Cross-Party Groups

Cross-Party Groups are groups of MSs which come together to focus on a specific topic. MSs can also invite relevant stakeholders and subject experts to join the discussion. Cross-Party Groups are less formal than Committees and are not part of formal Senedd business, but are still a useful way for AMs to discuss topics relevant to the Senedd’s work.

How to engage with Cross-Party Groups

  • Look through the list of registered Cross-Party Groups on the website for relevant groups
  • The purpose, membership and contact details for each Cross-Party Group are given on the website. You can either contact the group directly or speak to a member of the group separately.

Senedd Research

Senedd Research supports MSs in their work by ensuring they have expert, impartial and trusted research, analysis and information, designed to meet their needs. The information generated by Senedd Research is used to help MSs hold the Welsh Government to account and to help represent their constituents. Senedd Research provides a range of services as shown in this infographic.

How to engage with Senedd Research:

  • Become an Academic Fellow at the Senedd. The Academic Fellowship scheme enables academics at a senior (post-PhD) career level to spend time working with Senedd Research on a specific project, where this will have mutual benefit to the academic and to the Senedd. There is normally a call for applicants each calendar year so keep an eye on the Academic Fellowships page for more information on the programme, the work of previous Fellows and key dates.
  • Become a UK Research and Innovation PhD intern. More information on PhD placements is available here.
  • Check through the different research teams in Senedd Research and contact the relevant researcher or Team Leader to make them aware of your research.
  • Keep an eye on Senedd Research’s In Brief blog to see the issues that are topical and get in touch if you have relevant expertise. We may invite you to write a guest blog post for us.

Some general tips

MSs will be dealing with and processing information on multiple different issues at any one time. It is therefore important that your research is as accessible and relevant as possible. There are lots of different tips on how to do this:

  • Be clear when communicating your research. The MS may not be an expert in the field you want to discuss so you should keep your language as jargon-free as possible.
  • If you do link to research papers or other sources make sure that they are open access and readable by non-academics.
  • Be concise when summarising your research. MSs will have a limited amount of time to devote to reading about your research so make sure you can convey your work in a brief and digestible manner.
  • Most of the time MSs will be concerned with policy areas that are devolved to Wales and less so with those that are reserved to UK level. Further information about powers that are devolved and reserved is given here.

Where to go for more information

Article by Emily Tilby and Graham Winter, Senedd Research

Senedd Research acknowledges the parliamentary fellowship provided to Emily Tilby by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which enabled this blog to be completed.