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Evidence Week has been held annually in Westminster since 2018, and brings together researchers, community groups and parliamentarians to share ideas about research and policy.

Parliament functions to debate issues that concern us all, to make and to improve legislation. MPs have challenging and varied responsibilities; their work can move from discussing the impact of housing policies in their constituencies to debating extended cancer screening programmes.

We believe that MPs don’t need a scientific background to understand the evidence that underpins these vital policy decisions. Evidence Week is an opportunity for the public, parliamentarians, and researchers to come together to share knowledge and insights that will help politicians scrutinise evidence.

Sense about Science is excited to introduce you to the format of Evidence Week in Westminster 2021, which ran from Monday 1 November to Friday 5 November 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event was held as a hybrid format, incorporating the experiences and successes of last year’s online event, alongside our experience with running in-person Evidence Week.

The event consisted of three main parts:

  • Opening event (online)
  • Briefing and meetings with Evidence Week partners (online and in person)
  • Webinars for parliamentarians and training for parliamentary staff (online)

Opening Event

The opening event was held online on Monday 1 November 2021, hosted on zoom. The format was very similar to the successful opening event last year, where constituents and community groups brought their questions to MPs and committee chairs on how parliament is using or scrutinising evidence on subjects that matter to them. MPs and experts responded, with additional comments from information providers and analysts. Many of these questions originated from our newly developed discussion board, where anyone could #AskAnMP by submitting a question, here. Visitors to the site were able to ask questions, and we presented a cross section of these to relevant panels and parliamentarians.

This was a fantastic opportunity to bring together MPs, researchers and constituents, and engage with cutting edge research on policy decisions that the general public had questions about. The aim was to ask parliamentarians how well equipped they are to understand and use scientific information. This fitted within the greater themes of Evidence Week which continued through the week.

Evidence Week partner briefs and meetings

We hosted a series of virtual and in person 3-minute speed briefings from our research partners that covered topics from Net Zero to Health to Data and AI. This was run as an in person event in Westminster, Upper Waiting Hall on Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 November 2021, with pods set up as a live exhibition which MPs, peers and parliamentary staff could attend and discuss the evidence and briefings presented. MPs and parliamentary staff were also able to organise individual online meetings with the researchers to discuss in more detail their work and how evidence can be used in policy making decisions, throughout the entirety of the week.

Training for parliamentary staff

Friday 5th November 2021 – 1-3.30pm – Using scientific evidence, research data and resources to support your MP 

For queries after the event email: [email protected]

This online training session was created in partnership with ONS, Ipsos Mori and Risk Know-how. It provided attendees with a crash course to scientific evidence and research data. The session introduced attendees to the basics, and highlight where one can use these skills and resources in one’s work – whether it is assisting a Peer or MP in making policy changes, drafting a speech or responding to casework. There was also the opportunity to put questions to the experts.  

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