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Delivering social research to stakeholders

Critical economic and social policy decisions are currently being made by European governments at a time of extreme austerity. More than ever, policy makers need access to reliable quality economic and social research in order to ensure that the decisions they make are as full...

Critical economic and social policy decisions are currently being made by European governments at a time of extreme austerity. More than ever, policy makers need access to reliable quality economic and social research in order to ensure that the decisions they make are as fully informed as they can be. A new EU-funded project, entitled SCOOP, aims to bridge what has been recognised as a worrying communications gap between this research community and those in power. The Scoop ('Socio-economic sciences: communicating outcomes oriented to policy'), which began in October 2009, links socio-economic sciences and humanities (SSH) research with policy makers at the local, regional, national and European level. It also facilitates the flow of information to key groups such as civil society organisations and the business community. The project recognises that in order to improve communication, an appropriate platform for research communication is needed, along with the development of researcher communication skills. The project consists of two key tools to address these concerns. The first is a monthly news service to disseminate research findings from EU projects funded through the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes. The second is a series of a communications classes to help SSH researchers increase the impact of their policy and communications efforts. The monthly news alert service is based on a model currently used to great success by DG Environment. The Science for Environment Policy news alert provides easy-to-read, short 100-word summaries of research, and is designed to keep policy makers and stakeholders abreast of latest environmental research developments. Scoop has taken this tried and tested tool and applied it to SSH research. News articles are embedded within an email, while an archive of past stories is hosted on a dedicated project website (www.scoopproject.org.uk). The news alert service is free of charge and subscriptions are accepted through the website. Communications Masterclasses have been developed through discussions with both project coordinators and policy makers. A total of seven Masterclasses will be held. Successful training packages also depend on the recruitment of participants, and the successful delivery of this objective will require an effective promotion programme. The first Masterclass took place in July 2010 and was very positively received by delegates. Future Masterclasses are planned in October 2010 and February 2011. These are advertised on the project website. In line with good practice, the three year Scoop project, due to run until September 2012, is evaluated on an ongoing basis with a view to improving the service. This evaluation focuses on the effectiveness of the news alert service and the quality of the Masterclass programmes.