Skip to main content
Menu

Dissolution of Parliament

The dissolution of Parliament took place on Thursday 30 May 2024. All business in the House of Commons and House of Lords has come to an end. There are currently no MPs and every seat in the Commons is vacant until after the general election on 4 July 2024.

Find out more about:

Parliamentary Thematic Research Leads

Over 2023, Parliament and the ESRC piloted a new role in Parliament: the Thematic Research Lead. Evidence suggests that these prestigious and influential roles are making a positive impact. As a result, in 2024, Parliament will partner with UKRI to expand Parliament’s network of Thematic Research Leads across a wider range of academic disciplines and policy areas.

Thematic Research Leads 2024 – 2026

In partnership with UKRI, we are currently recruiting for the next round of Thematic Research Leads!

We are recruiting to eight positions from a broad range of scientific and research disciplines: 

These part-time roles, funded by UKRI and supported by all of UKRI’s research councils, will be appointed to work with UK Parliament from September 2024 to summer 2026.

The deadline to apply was 23:55, Sunday 3 March 2024.

Please consult the Guidance Notes (pdf, 472KB) BEFORE applying for the role.

 

What are Parliamentary Thematic Research Leads?

TRLs are mid-career researchers embedded three days a week in Parliament, whilst retaining their substantive academic post for the remaining time. 

The purpose of the TRL is to facilitate and enhance the use of research evidence and expertise in Parliament (in both the House of Commons and House of Lords) through effective knowledge exchange, collaboration and processes. Each TRL leads on a specific policy area.

To achieve this, TRLs conduct three primary activities: 

  • strategic support for the production and delivery of research evidence for Parliament, within a broad policy area
  • activities to support the development of a research and innovation landscape that facilitates and encourages knowledge exchange between Parliament and the research community
  • participation in a network of Thematic Research Leads to share intelligence and insights across policy areas.

 

Thematic Research Leads 2023 – 2024 

Parliament’s current Thematic Research Leads took up their position in January 2023. They will remain in these ESRC-funded roles until Summer 2024. They are:

  • Professor Tamsin Edwards, Thematic Research Lead on Climate and Environment (and Professor in Climate Change, King's College London)
  • Dr Kristen A Harkness, Thematic Research Lead on International Affairs and National Security (and Senior Lecturer and Director of the Institute for the Study of War and Strategy, University of St Andrews)
  • Professor Rick Whitaker, Thematic Research Lead on Parliament, Public Administration and Constitution (and Professor in Politics, University of Leicester) 

 

Where can I get more information?

The Knowledge Exchange Unit, in collaboration with UKRI held an online information session about the Thematic Research Leads 2024 - 2026 recruitment on Wednesday 17 January 2024. The session gave an overview of the role and the application process, and tips on how to apply, as well as sharing the experiences of current Thematic Research Leads.

Watch a recording of our Thematic Research Lead information session

00:00:00:00 - 00:00:25:11

Sarah Carter-Bell

So just to introduce ourselves, I'm Sarah Carter-Bell. I’m the Knowledge Exchange lead for UK Parliament. And during the session I will be joined by Alice Taylor, who is the head of Public Policy Research and Place Based Strategy at ESRC and our current thematic research leads here at UK Parliament, Dr. Kristen Harkness and Professor Rick Whittaker. As you can see from the agenda on the screen, we will briefly explain who and how Parliament uses research.

 

00:00:25:12 - 00:00:47:09

Sarah Carter-Bell

The key teams the TRL roles will engage with, what it is to be Thematic Research Lead, highlighting what TRLs actually do and how to apply. Alice is going to take us through the key information from UKRI. And saving the best bit for almost last, Kristin and Rick will speak about the experience of being a TRL, warts and all, and they'll provide you with some advice and top tips.

 

00:00:47:11 - 00:01:11:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

Finally, we’ll address the questions you pose through the Q&A mechanism at the end. So we're going to move on to the next slide, which is how Parliament uses research. Thank you. So first, to explain more about the Central TRL role, we’ll look at who the key research users in the UK Parliament are. Parliament's role is to scrutinize the government and to hold it to account.

 

00:01:11:05 - 00:01:21:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

It's to debate the important issues of the day, to legislate and to approve taxes and spending. And Parliament uses research, carry out all of these roles. So parliamentarians themselves use

 

00:01:21:09 - 00:01:32:05

Sarah Carter-Bell

research, as you've just heard from Lord Haskel, and they are ably supported by the parliamentary staff who work in the policy, research and analysis roles across the different elements of Parliament that you see on your screen.

 

00:01:32:06 - 00:02:05:11

Sarah Carter-Bell

And these staff members also draw on high quality research and evidence. The Thematic Research Lead role is pivotal. TRLs work at the heart of all this activity, engaging with all the teams and functions on the slide to support this essential function of ensuring Parliament has high quality and accessible research through which it fulfills its functions. So a quick explainer about the slide, on the green side we’ve got the House of Commons elements and in red are those of the House of Lords. In blue are the bicameral teams.

 

00:02:05:11 - 00:02:28:10

Sarah Carter-Bell

So the teams and functions which work across both houses. The TRL role is bicameral. It will support the work of both chambers of Parliament and TRLs will work closest with specialists from select committees, libraries and POST to support knowledge exchange and to strengthen the use of research evidence within their dedicated thematic policy area. So I'll give you two examples of this

 

00:02:28:12 - 00:02:54:09

Sarah Carter-Bell

that are very simple. The principal way that Parliament scrutinize government is through select committees. Committees conduct inquiries in which they draw on academic evidence. The TRLs help the committee teams to plan the inquiries. They advise on key considerations. They may use knowledge exchange tools to access a diverse range of research voices, and they may reach out to experts to support the committee through private briefings, written or oral evidence, or to help find special advisers for a particular inquiry.

 

00:02:54:11 - 00:03:17:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

A second example, in informing debate and the process for legislation. Parliamentarians draw on many sources of information, but key within this are the briefings produced by the parliamentary libraries and POST, which is the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. And these briefings draw on or synthesize research, evidence and expertise and TRLs may be asked to co-write or contribute to a briefing.

 

00:03:17:05 - 00:03:42:02

Sarah Carter-Bell

They may be asked to provide their expert opinion or to review the publication. They may highlight up to the minute recently published research for the Library teams or POST so these teams can draw new and cutting edge thinking. Well, again, they may be requested to seek out experts in topic and connect them up with these parliamentary teams. So TRLs work across all of these teams to enhance the use of research in Parliament.

 

00:03:42:03 - 00:04:10:02

Sarah Carter-Bell

Okay, we're ready for the next slide. Thank you. So introducing you to the TRL roll more closely. The next slide we can move on. Thank you. Lists the eight rows we will be recruiting two for 2024. Could you move the slide on please? Thank you - don’t worry for having a difficulty. So here are the eight research lead roles that we will be recruiting to for the two year period 2024 to 2026.

 

00:04:10:03 - 00:04:33:10

Sarah Carter-Bell

We spotted perhaps that not all policy areas are included in this recruitment, so the roles we are recruiting to are spread across the disciplinary remit of all research councils reflecting our partnership with UKRI. So we will not be piloting the thematic areas of education, housing, communities, leveling up or social policy at this time, and the areas we have selected represent the intersection of where Parliament feels it needs most.

 

00:04:33:10 - 00:05:01:15

Sarah Carter-Bell

help to access the evidence base and where there is strong alignment with UKRI’s strategic priorities, or there is a substantial body of evidence available to mobilize. The areas where we are not recruiting a TRL also reflect that there is already good parliamentary provision or research outreach in place to support thematic scrutiny. Researchers who fall outside of the thematic areas we are recruiting to are welcome to feed the insights into the parliamentary specialists in other ways.

 

00:05:02:01 - 00:05:19:11

Sarah Carter-Bell

We advertise these opportunities through our round up, which is the KEU newsletter that we send weekly whilst Parliament is sitting and the link to subscribe to our round up will be listed in the Frequently asked Questions document, which will pop on our website next week, for anyone who isn't familiar with the round up. Okay, moving on to the next slide, thank you.

 

00:05:19:11 - 00:05:43:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

We'll begin looking at what the thematic research leads do. So you've already heard that the TRL role is a prestigious and influential position, which stands on the bridge between the research and parliamentary worlds. TRLs are based in the home team, which draws together the key teams within Parliament to engage with research and serve members research needs and requests.

 

00:05:43:06 - 00:06:15:15

Sarah Carter-Bell

Ultimately, TRLs support Parliament's core functions of legislation, scrutiny and debate. And they do this by working across both chambers to facilitate and enhance the use of research, evidence and expertise in Parliament, using knowledge exchange mechanisms, fostering collaboration and enabling access to research across the range of policy, research and analysis communities in Parliament within their specific thematic policy area. TRLs work both inward to support parliamentary news and outlets with a wide range of stakeholders and key contacts.

 

00:06:16:00 - 00:07:04:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

This includes the Chief Scientific Advisers in Government, the UKRI, the National Academies and Professional Societies. Mission groups, UPEN, CAPE, organizations such as those, a wide range of research and policy organizations and the devolved legislatures. So trials work both internally and externally to generate engagement with research and to bring high quality research into Parliament. TRLs will also to some extent cover a broad range of research and sources that Parliament considers as evidence. They’ll draw on research evidence from specialist research institutions, they’ll find the key research taking place in industry, they’ll engage with academic and university based research and research institutions and understand the role of public opinion, public engagement, the contributions provided by

 

00:07:04:06 - 00:07:36:14

Sarah Carter-Bell

thinktanks and so on. A key aspect of the TRL role is to provide strategic support for the production and delivery of research evidence to Parliament in the broad TRL area. I have already mentioned that the TRLs bring insights into Parliament to support legislation, scrutiny and debate within their thematic policy area. Also important is that TRLs innovate and trial new methods to bring this high quality research information into Parliament and that they support the uptake and engagement with these methods internally.

 

00:07:36:15 - 00:08:11:13

Sarah Carter-Bell

So this can include improving how information's access or setting efficient processes to support the parliamentary teams, to access new content in a timely and in a time efficient way. And TRLs also conduct activities to support the development of a research and innovation landscape that facilitates and encourages an exchange between Parliament and the research community. This includes capacity building, engaging externally to upskill researchers to connect with Parliament, may include providing talks and engagements in their specialist TRL area and also key is going to be making connections and building engagement in specialist areas.

 

00:08:11:14 - 00:08:34:08

Sarah Carter-Bell

On top of all that, TRLs also need key skills to monitor and evaluate their programs and to assess engagement and the effects of innovation that they and their parliamentary home teams deliver to inform best practice. This helps us roll out our successes across Parliament, and it helps us to demonstrate evidence on return on investment value for money to key stakeholders relating to the TRL role.

 

00:08:34:09 - 00:08:58:07

Sarah Carter-Bell

Finally, fundamental to the TRL role is their participation in the TRL network. This network shares intelligence and insights across policy areas, supporting a bigger than the sum of its parts holistic cross-disciplinary mindset to identify policy implications and enhance the understanding and the interaction of key policy areas. So to provide a simple recent example of this - at our network meeting,

 

00:08:58:07 - 00:09:22:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

the International Affairs TRL highlighted that a country was scuttling submarines off their coastline. This allowed the climate and environment TRL to make the connection with implications for the Arctic marine environment and escalate ballistic rounded information to key parliamentary figures. Now, if you're familiar with the chief scientific adviser network and the operations in government, you'll spot the similarity of the TRL network with the CSA network.

 

00:09:22:06 - 00:09:46:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

And the TRL role is in part modeled on the chief scientific adviser positions. It draws on the successes within the CSA model and influences key elements for a role that is suitable for the parliamentary context. A TRL’s skill set is important to the role. The thematic areas are broad, broader than an individual researcher could span in a career so the ability to work across the general thematic area is essential to the role.

 

00:09:46:07 - 00:10:09:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

TRLs must be able to work effectively outside of their own specialist research area because they will need to cover the full spectrum of activity that Parliament will engage with through scrutiny, legislation and debate. They are not expected to be an expert on everything, but they will need to be able to work at pace and find the networks and contacts that are expert across the four thematic areas needed.

 

00:10:09:08 - 00:10:35:11

Sarah Carter-Bell

So I've provided a high level description of the TRL work functions here and in the FAQs we will publish next week I’ll unpack this more and will provide some examples of what these work descriptions may look like in practice. So bringing it down to the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty of what the strategic descriptions mean in practice. Kristen and Rick may also touch on some of the key activities that they have delivered in the TRL role.

 

00:10:35:12 - 00:10:54:00

Sarah Carter-Bell

so far. I'm now going to hand over to Alice Taylor, who is the head of Public Policy Research and place based strategy at ESRC to provide us with the UKRI perspective. Now, if you could move this slide along. Thank you very much.

 

00:10:54:01 - 00:11:16:15

Alice Taylor

Thanks, Sarah. It's great to see so many of you online today. Thanks for your interest in these roles and for signing up to attend the webinar. So as Sarah says, I'm the strategic lead for the UK Parliament Thematic Research Leads based in ESRC. But you'll note that this is a UKRA scheme, so I just wanted to give a little bit of context about the scheme to talk about the cohort that we're currently recruiting for.

 

00:11:17:00 - 00:11:39:03

Alice Taylor

And then I thought it might be helpful if I explained some of the reasons that UKRI is supporting this initiative and why we're so excited about it. So to give a bit of background, over the last decade, the Economic and Social Research Council associate has funded first social science advisors to work in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology post where the Knowledge Exchange Unit is based.

 

00:11:39:04 - 00:12:05:12

Alice Taylor

and then later on we funded the setting up on the development of the Knowledge Exchange Unit. So last year, from January 2023, we funded three academics to pilot this role of Thematic Research Lead, and I'm really pleased that we'll hear from two of those three later on in this webinar. From the pilot, we've really seen the value that embedding an academic in Parliament can bring both to the work of Parliament but also to the wider academic community and to the academic.

 

00:12:05:12 - 00:12:29:10

Alice Taylor

personally. They've provided a fresh perspective, suggested and trialed new ways of working and helped to diversify the range of evidence and researchers which Parliament uses. I think it's fair to say that there's been quite a lot of learning on both sides. So the cohort that we're currently recruiting for has been developed over the last six months working across all of the research councils within UKRI

 

00:12:29:11 - 00:12:58:07

Alice Taylor

and with colleagues in Parliament, as Sarah said, to shape this new cohort of roles which align with both of our strategic priorities. We're really excited that the new cohort is larger. There'll be eight roles and that those roles span every research council within UKRI. We're also funding them for two years. So this cross-UK scheme will support a greater diversity of disciplines contributing evidence into UK Parliament and will maximize the impact from a broader range of publicly funded research.

 

00:12:58:08 - 00:13:24:08

Alice Taylor

We're really looking forward to seeing how this multi-disciplinary, expanded network can take forward the work which has currently begun with the cohort of three, and what new perspectives and new ideas that they can bring. I'll let Kristen and Rick, who are currently in those roles, say more about the benefits for researchers. But I thought it might be useful to just briefly talk about the UK right perspective in terms of why we devised this opportunity and why we're funding its expansion.

 

00:13:24:09 - 00:13:53:13

Alice Taylor

So there's four strategic areas which I'll just mention briefly. The first one is around People and Talent, which is a key strand of UKRI strategy. We want to encourage talented researchers to develop greater research impact and we also want researchers to gain the skills that they need to be more mobile, so working across academia and policy environments. And we're delighted that two of the current Thematic Research Leads have been promoted in their academic roles whilst in their roles in Parliament. The second area is around catalyzing change.

 

00:13:53:13 - 00:14:14:14

Alice Taylor

So that's a driving change in the broader R&D system and some of the examples that Sarah just spoke about really highlight some of the innovations that the TRLs have been able to achieve. So it's about improving the use of data and evidence within UK Parliament and this scheme is part of a broader push across the UK right to deliver policy engagement and impact schemes.

 

00:14:14:14 - 00:14:36:03

Alice Taylor

So you might be aware of the UK policy fellowships and there'll be more opportunities like these to come. I'm also pleased to say that you saw these recently invested in knowledge exchange managers in each devolved legislature, and we're looking forward to the change that those roles are going to bring about in how researchers work with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

 

00:14:36:04 - 00:15:03:12

Alice Taylor

The third area right to highlight is around building strategic relationships. So through this initiatives, all the research councils will build stronger relationships with UK Parliament across a much broader range of disciplines and policy areas and systematic research. These really provide a mechanism for sharing evidence needs with UKRI research councils and with our investments, and they also ensure that the best research in turn feeds back into Parliament's legislation, scrutiny and debate.

 

00:15:03:13 - 00:15:27:05

Alice Taylor

The last strategic point I'd highlight is around diversity. So you is really keen to improve the diversity of researchers working with UK Parliament and the diversity of evidence that reaches UK Parliament. And on this point it's worth highlighting that we've made some funding available within this scheme to cover extensive travel time to ensure that these opportunities are open to a diverse range of academics from right across the UK.

 

00:15:27:05 - 00:15:39:14

Alice Taylor

I can maybe say more about that in the section on the application process. I'm happy to answer any questions either today or by email, but I'll hand back to Sarah for now. Thank you.

 

00:15:39:15 - 00:16:13:00

Sarah Carter-Bell

Thank you very much, Alice. Okay, so moving on to the application process. The TRL role is designed for mid-career researchers. We can move on to the next slide. Thank you. Okay. We have tried to be flexible by definition to be as inclusive as possible. So we haven't set a certain number of years experience. We have set the broad boundaries that the role is open to researchers who are post PhD up to but not including professorial level.

 

00:16:13:02 - 00:16:37:15

Sarah Carter-Bell

So this includes all the way up to associate professors, senior readers, senior lecturers, principal academics and for researchers within organizations that do not follow the academic promotional terms or the model, we will accept the organizations equivalent to these mid-career levels. Regardless, we do anticipate that applicants will have established a national reputation in the discipline and be able to demonstrate their mid-career status and expertise.

 

00:16:38:00 - 00:17:03:01

Sarah Carter-Bell

So this includes broad knowledge of the work and expertise in the wider thematic area and knowledge of the policy landscape relating to the policy area. We do not expect the applicant to be an expert across full thematic areas, but the broad knowledge is an important baseline and the skill set to get up to speed on non-expert areas quickly is essential. If you have already achieved the role of Professor even recently, unfortunately, you are not eligible for the TRL role.

 

00:17:03:02 - 00:17:27:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

We understand this will be disappointing to some, so I'll explain why professors are not eligible for this specific opportunity. Part of the purpose of the TRL is to help mid-career researchers who are not yet professors to move towards becoming professors, as has happened this year with our current TRLs and the majority of this funding for the TRL role, as we've just heard from Alice, comes from the UKRI’s people, culture and talent funds to support this objective.

 

00:17:27:05 - 00:17:53:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

So in addition, we also know that historically it's been professors or advanced researchers who are most often invited to give oral evidence to select committees and ensuring a diversity of voices and hearing new voices is important to Parliament. So we are working to create opportunities for researchers at different career levels and with this one specifically designed for those who are working at pre-professor stage. We do understand that not all professors have had the same career trajectory and background.

 

00:17:53:07 - 00:18:14:14

Sarah Carter-Bell

Some people may feel less advanced in their career. However, professorial level has been achieved and it would be very difficult for us to develop robust and fair criteria which allows some professors to apply and others not, particularly given the unique pathways that academics tend to take. If you're not eligible for a TRL role, it does not mean you cannot connect with and work with the appointed TRL for your research

 

00:18:14:15 - 00:18:40:09

Sarah Carter-Bell

and the frequently asked questions will explain how to do this. I've also already mentioned we have a few activities fitting into all other aspects of parliamentary work, and I'd like to highlight that professors are eligible to apply for parliamentary academic fellowships and again, we'll include a link to the current opportunities in our frequently asked questions document. And to clarify, mid-career researchers don't hold back if you are appointed as the TRL for your thematic research area,

 

00:18:40:09 - 00:19:04:00

Sarah Carter-Bell

this does not bar you from applying for promotion in future. So after you've commenced or part way through your TRL role, please carry on applying for promotion for your substantive institution. If you are promoted and appointed as a professor after you've started the TRL role, you will not be asked to resign from the TRL position. And we'll be very pleased that the role with funding will have helped colleagues to achieve academic promotion.

 

00:19:04:01 - 00:19:28:08

Sarah Carter-Bell

At the second element of the application process, eligibility, is that you do need to be working as a researcher to be eligible for the TRL role. You must be employed in a professional research role where you actively conduct research as part of your substantive post. So roles which share teaching and research are eligible. You do not need to be 100% research only, and in fact all current TRLs have both teaching and research duties.

 

00:19:28:09 - 00:19:56:08

Sarah Carter-Bell

So to be clear, the TRL role is not open to professional services staff, it is only open to active researchers. Onto substantive employment. So you must be employed at a substantive employer on a contract which continues after the TRL role ends. So you must be employed into September 2026. If you are changing organizations, your new organization must be eligible for the UKRI funding that supports this growth.

 

00:19:56:09 - 00:20:20:05

Sarah Carter-Bell

You must also have permission to work in the UK and you must have lived in the UK for at least three of the past five years. This is essential. It's to meet security clearance requirements to work on the parliamentary estate. And then moving on to political impartiality. So as your work will include providing information, briefing and advice to members on subjects of political significance, you will need to be able to demonstrate political impartiality.

 

00:20:20:06 - 00:20:48:13

Sarah Carter-Bell

So we're going to provide a more detailed explanation of impartiality and its boundaries in the frequently asked questions document, which will publish on the website next week, but we’ll also share the link to the frequently asked questions document in our Roundup weekly newsletter. So if you are a researcher and you don't know where to find us on the KEU website, do contact the Knowledge Mobilizer in your organization and ask them to share the link to subscribe or to our website.

 

00:20:48:14 - 00:21:15:09

Sarah Carter-Bell

And then finally, you must be from a research organization that is eligible for UKRI funding. So on the slide I’ve provided links to colleagues within independent research organizations and catapult centers or within specific research institutes know that they are eligible and can apply for the role. If you work in a public sector agency or in a government role, unfortunately, you are not eligible to apply for the role because it would create a conflict of interest between the public agency and parliament.

 

00:21:15:10 - 00:21:32:07

Sarah Carter-Bell

So please do click on those links. Check if your organization is listed in there and if you're not sure, do contact us by emailing keu@parliament.uk. Is there anything you'd like to add on the eligibility aspect of the application?

 

00:21:32:08 - 00:21:33:04

Alice Taylor

No.

 

00:21:33:06 - 00:21:56:01

Sarah Carter-Bell

Thank you. Thank you. Kay. Happy to move on to the next slide. Thank you. I think you’re ahead of me. Brilliant. So we're going to whisk through this slide. It's about applying for the TRL role. First things first, do read the guidance notes before applying, they’re lengthy and hopefully they tell you absolutely everything you need to know to successfully apply for the role.

 

00:21:56:02 - 00:22:24:07

Sarah Carter-Bell

So you apply for the post that you are interested in through the individual links listed on our web page. This will take you to Parliament's recruitment recruitment portal. We use the portal to ensure best recruitment practice and to protect your data, provide name blind applications and subsequently afterwards to monitor data diversity on the portal application site. There are links to the role description, the guidance notes again, and the support and funding verification form.

 

00:22:24:09 - 00:22:45:13

Sarah Carter-Bell

Please take the time to read the information and submit everything requested. Applications that do have missing information will not be considered. In preparing your application, you should confirm your head of department’s support, including your research institution’s financial support to take up the role. You and your head of department should complete the support and funding verification form, which must be signed by your head of department.

 

00:22:45:14 - 00:23:13:13

Sarah Carter-Bell

You should upload this to the recruitment portal and submit it along with your application. In the application you will need to demonstrate how you meet the criteria and the Thematic Research Lead person specification and you'll need to submit an anonymous CV. So do upload this to the recruitment portal and submit it along with your application. You need to apply before the deadline of Sunday, the 3rd of March 20, 22 and before 11:55 p.m. on that day.

 

00:23:13:15 - 00:23:34:12

Sarah Carter-Bell

Interviews are intended to be held around the period of 15 to 26 April. That may be a little bit of flex on that, but this is when we anticipate the majority of interviews for the eight TRL positions will be held. The interview will be online and it will be one hour long. It will be based on the criteria or requirements listed within the application documentation.

 

00:23:34:13 - 00:23:55:02

Sarah Carter-Bell

So the interview will focus on the skills and experience required for the role. There will usually be a panel of five interviewers at the interview. So there will be three senior parliamentary staff, two with specialist expertise in the thematic area, two senior external research experts. If you are successful at interview and if you are offered the role, you will then proceed to security

 

00:23:55:02 - 00:24:17:12

Sarah Carter-Bell

vetting. The security requirements for the role must be satisfied before the role can be confirmed and the Fellowship agreement or contract is signed. So there is a copy of the Fellowship Agreement appended to the guidance notes available in the documentation for the TRL role. It's important to note that we cannot amend the agreement or negotiate on the terms in the agreement, so your organization will need to ask for it and that they are willing to sign the agreement

 

00:24:17:12 - 00:24:42:14

Sarah Carter-Bell

before we progress to interview stage. We may ask the applicants invited to interview to confirm this. And UKRI have committed to fund 80% of the full economic cost of the role so successful applicants will be invited to submit an application to secure their funding. UKRI and our colleagues will be able to provide guidance and answer questions to walk you through this funding process.

 

00:24:42:15 - 00:25:06:07

Sarah Carter-Bell

Please do request reasonable adjustments for the interview or work place on the application form, or if you don't want to do on that form, you can contact recruitment@parliament.uk, so that's recruitment@parliament.uk, well in advance so adjustments can be requested to help with, for example, obstacles relating to mental health and physical or non physical requirements.

 

00:25:06:08 - 00:25:38:13

Sarah Carter-Bell

You can request a workplace adjustment if you have a disability or suffer from a difficulty or disadvantage in your workplace. On this, it is is important to emphasize our excellent recruitment practice, so your request for adjustments will be out separately by the recruitment professional. The team assessing applications will not see your request for adjustment. All applications are considered on merit and examined against the stated criteria after the panel has confirmed which applicants will be interviewed, the recruitment specialist will liaise with the applicant to discuss and put reasonable adjustments in place, including for an interview stage.

 

00:25:38:15 - 00:26:08:04

Sarah Carter-Bell

So I hope this is reassuring and that anyone who will need adjustments feels confident to share their needs at application stage. As Alice has already mentioned, we will also make provision and adjustments to support researchers who live a long distance away from Westminster. And finally, we do request that all TRLs select Wednesday as one of their TRL working days to support network activities to allow us to provide comprehensive induction and training and to allow for interaction and support for your fellow TRLs.

 

00:26:08:05 - 00:26:29:01

Sarah Carter-Bell

The role includes a balance of remote and in-person attendance on site in Westminster, and the in-person attendance will be frontloaded more so you have more regular onsite time during the first two months to support training and induction. The successful applicants will start with us in Westminster in early September 2024 and you'll be able to find key induction dates on the initial in-person days

 

00:26:29:01 - 00:26:47:03

Sarah Carter-Bell

noted on the frequently asked questions document. Okay, we're now going to move over to the first of our current Thematic Research Leads, Dr. Kristen Harkness, and she's going to tell you what it's like to really be a TRL. Thank you very much, Kristen.

 

00:26:47:04 - 00:27:12:09

Dr Kristen Harkness

Thank you, Sarah, if you can hear me. Yes. Okay. So it's really a delight to have been in this role and to be here today. We've been in our positions for about a year now and we're going to carry on with this until the next TRL cohort go through. So I was asked to give a little bit of a sense of the day to day and the types of projects that I've been working on.

 

00:27:12:09 - 00:28:05:11

Dr Kristen Harkness

And I had at first start by saying what I really one of the things that are really, really enjoy about working in the parliamentary context at this stage of my career is that it was something very new and stimulating and different and an opportunity to learn and learn about Parliament itself. And they've, Parliament's, been wonderful in providing all sorts of enrichment and engagement activities, like touring the parliamentary archives and shadowing Hansard as they, you know, create the record of parliamentary sessions which involves sitting in the press box in the House of Commons, and then tours of the estate, but also to go to to kind of step back from my narrow specialisms.

 

00:28:05:12 - 00:28:35:09

Dr Kristen Harkness

And I should have said I'm the Thematic Research Lead in international affairs and national security and my home base is up at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. But I've also been able to work much more broadly across different policy and research areas then say, I would in my personal research agenda, which has has been very, I think, stimulating for me to be able to just dive in and explore other areas.

 

00:28:35:11 - 00:29:02:06

Dr Kristen Harkness

I also really love working in a very collaborative and team based environment where I'm not out doing things by myself. I find that we have quite a bit of independence to initiate projects and think of new projects and get, you know, support and a team behind that. But I can also chip in on other people's projects and other initiatives within Parliament that really interest me.

 

00:29:02:07 - 00:29:52:13

Dr Kristen Harkness

And it's very nice to have a team to help with workload management, to take some duties off your plate when things come up in your life and to then be able to do that for other people and have those projects progressing forward. So some of the types of projects have been involved in and this is just a small sample, you know, I work quite closely with the Knowledge Exchange Unit with Sarah Carter-Bell, who you've been hearing from, but also with the International Affairs Unit, which is a policy unit that supports the Select Committee teams that deal with international affairs, national security, defense, and that includes the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Defense committee,

 

00:29:52:14 - 00:30:28:13

Dr Kristen Harkness

the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, the Business and Trade Committee, sometimes the Scottish Affairs Committee and the other devolved committees and a number of others. And I work very closely with the new International Affairs and National Security hub, which crosses the Select Committee system and the Library system, and kind of is a community of staff members within Parliament that work on international affairs type issues and defense security type issues.

 

00:30:28:14 - 00:31:03:07

Dr Kristen Harkness

And so some particular projects that I've worked on beyond kind of supporting day to day business, right, supporting Select Committee inquiries, supporting Library work as able to head up the creative design on a policy simulation, on geo-strategic competition in natural resources in the Arctic for members, which we worked on intensively all summer and then ran in early September with about 12 members from across the House of Commons and House of Lords.

 

00:31:03:07 - 00:31:48:00

Dr Kristen Harkness

And we had them for an afternoon and really diving into those issue areas while trying to resolve a crisis right in country teams. We had about we had ten external experts, academics from different universities in the UK come in for the afternoon and embed with teams and represent multilateral institutions to help the members gain a much more deeper and involved understanding of of international law, international institutions, competence, ocean issues, environmental change issues, resource issues up in the Arctic.

 

00:31:48:00 - 00:32:14:07

Dr Kristen Harkness

And the feedback that we received from them was phenomenal in that they thought they learned and were able to gain knowledge on this issue area in an afternoon that would have taken them weeks of evidence sessions or reading briefings. And we're hoping then to turn what was a pilot project into a normal part of parliamentary business for the next parliament.

 

00:32:14:08 - 00:33:06:06

Dr Kristen Harkness

Another project I worked on, I worked very closely with the Lords Committee for Artificial Intelligence and Defense Weaponry over the course. This was an eight or nine month inquiry. I you know, I attended evidence sessions helped recommend experts, but I also was able to work with the staff to do a mid inquiry reflective session with the members where I gave my insights on the evidence we had received so far, where I thought evidence gaps remained, what the questions that I would ask of the remaining experts in the evidence sessions coming forward and to think about structuring the report and I also for that inquiry helped design a public engagement activity where the committee went out

 

00:33:06:06 - 00:33:54:15

Dr Kristen Harkness

to, came up to Scotland and came to Glasgow and Edinburgh. I went to the universities there and we had an activity with PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in computer science, engineering and philosophy ethics on kind of thinking through a thought experiment on redesigning the seaway system which is a ship based air defense system that is employed in the Royal Navy with artificial intelligence underlying it, and how to build a meaningful human control into those systems and think through the ethical and pragmatic issues of that potential change in the weaponry.

 

00:33:55:00 - 00:34:24:00

Dr Kristen Harkness

Another project that I've worked on, or not project, but the kind of routine piece of business has been supporting in the Foreign Affairs Committee with all of the crises and conflicts that had been breaking out around the world and to help them think through evidence sessions and and what questions to ask of experts. So we did one on the outbreak of the civil war in Sudan.

 

00:34:24:01 - 00:34:56:12

Dr Kristen Harkness

We have done private evidence session on the conflict in Gaza, which was a very difficult one to think through, how to get the right experts in, to talk to members. And I'm in the process of proposing another potential evidence session on humanitarian aid provision for Sudan, which has been a relatively neglected conflict and one that touches on my personal research interest areas.

 

00:34:56:12 - 00:35:22:00

Dr Kristen Harkness

And so that's a very meaningful opportunity that is coming up for me to potentially get evidence in front of members about aid needs in that conflict context. And then finally, I'll just mention beyond the work with committees and the work with the Library, and I have done projects with the library as well, but I think Rick may talk a little bit more about that kind of work,

 

00:35:22:01 - 00:36:08:14

Dr Kristen Harkness

I've sort of gotten to sit in this intersection between the Research Council's parliamentary work and academic research and to think about and experiment with new ways of improving channels of communication, communicating needs between the two, trying to connect particular types of expertise with parliamentary work. And that on a personal level, I've learned so much through that about the funding councils and about how they work and how they have come up with strategic objectives and try to implement them, which which I think is probably priceless to my career, my future career development, as well as as trying to improve those connections for the benefit of Parliament.

 

00:36:08:15 - 00:36:31:10

Dr Kristen Harkness

And finally, since I'm probably running out of time, I just wanted to raise the geography issue in case that was of concern to many of you. I live in Scotland. I'm a six and a half hour train ride from London at the best of times, and given the storm spree this fall, it was not the best of times commuting down.

 

00:36:31:11 - 00:36:58:09

Dr Kristen Harkness

And so that is actually quite a challenge. And I think it is a challenge for people distant. But I've really appreciated the flexibility of Parliament and the willingness to try to make that work for me and to experiment with different schedules of coming down of how frequently for how many days at a time, different types of I mean, I've done every type of train journey imaginable.

 

00:36:58:10 - 00:37:25:12

Dr Kristen Harkness

And is it better to travel on a Sunday, travel early in the morning, take the sleeper train? And I've tried basically everything and experiment until I found what worked for me. And I did really appreciate. But the funding from the research councils to enable that, but also the flexibility in my line managers of Parliament to just really work with me to make make that happen.

 

00:37:25:13 - 00:37:35:07

Dr Kristen Harkness

So I'll wrap up there and hopefully there will be some more questions in the Q&A and handover. Rick, thank you.

 

00:37:35:08 - 00:37:39:01

Sarah Carter-Bell

Thanks very much. Over to you, Rick.

 

00:37:39:02 - 00:37:56:14

Prof Rick Whitaker

Thanks, Sarah, and thanks, Kristen. I'm Rick Whitaker. I'm a professor of politics at the University of Leicester. And I thought I'd try and contrast a bit with what Kristen’s been talking about by saying something about how the role might benefit you as an individual if you were to get one of these roles and also a bit about how to balance the two jobs.

 

00:37:56:14 - 00:38:19:00

Prof Rick Whitaker

So that is maintaining your academic job at the same time as doing a role in Parliament. So on the first of those two things, this role has been a really kind of refreshing change in the working environment at this point in my career. So it's opened up my professional experience to a different group of people, a different institution, some different ways of working, and that's been really interesting.

 

00:38:19:00 - 00:38:43:14

Prof Rick Whitaker

But it's also taken me into lots of areas which I wouldn't have been thinking or reading or writing about in my normal academic role. And I think that that leads to a wider point that whilst you can't be expected to know the research in all the areas that you're going to be working on, if you're in one of these roles, you do need to be able to read yourself into areas of research quite quickly, at least enough to understand who the key people are and what the key findings might be.

 

00:38:44:02 - 00:39:09:10

Prof Rick Whitaker

But if you're someone who's curious and interested in all sorts of different areas, then then this is is a role for you. And it also opens up possibilities for impact case studies, because what it does do, doing one of these Thematic Research Lead roles is it's put you at the heart of the parliamentary staff who are working on particular policy areas, both in the select committees and in the Commons and Lords libraries as well as Kristen was mentioning.

 

00:39:09:11 - 00:39:33:03

Prof Rick Whitaker

So it gives you an opportunity to understand what Parliament needs in terms of research and in what sort of format. Academic research is most easily digested by staff in Parliament, by members, and that puts you in a in a good position perhaps to feed in some of your own research or probably more likely to think about the research you could do in future, which might have a better chance of having an impact.

 

00:39:33:04 - 00:39:54:01

Prof Rick Whitaker

Given the knowledge that you can gain about how Parliament operates. So it makes it a little bit easier to do the co-creation part of research that funding councils are often encouraging researchers to do. It's also a good boost to the CV. There's only a small number of these TRL positions and so getting going can be quite a big boost to your career.

 

00:39:54:02 - 00:40:10:11

Prof Rick Whitaker

And I think we've all found the three of us that are doing it, that our universities have taken these roles really seriously and that they rate the reputation or value that those positions bring. They do take a bit of explaining. So a lot of people think I'm doing a fellowship because I think a lot of universities are familiar with those.

 

00:40:10:12 - 00:40:37:08

Prof Rick Whitaker

And so explaining to your university what this role involves and how it differs from a fellowship is something you might need to do. But as was mentioned earlier, I was among those who were lucky enough to be promoted partway through my time as a Thematic Research Lead. And I think it's one of those bits of evidence you can use as external validation of your own research and your ability as a communicator.

 

00:40:37:09 - 00:41:02:06

Prof Rick Whitaker

So say a few things about how to balance the two roles, how to be a Thematic

 Research Lead whilst also being an academic. I found this did take quite a bit of getting used to. It's important to, to, to make some clear arrangements with your line manager at your university before you start working out a pattern of how you will operate each week, which days you want to work primarily for Parliament and which for your university.

 

00:41:02:06 - 00:41:31:04

Prof Rick Whitaker

Bearing in mind that Wednesday is a day when all the TRLs need to be working in the TRL roles and you want to avoid, if you can, having big teaching commitments or big administrative roles that need attention on a day to day basis because it's very difficult to do that. Whilst also working as a TRL, I started my role with a great big pile of marking because that was something that I was committed to doing before I began at this time last year.

 

00:41:31:06 - 00:41:50:04

Prof Rick Whitaker

But Parliament have been really helpful about being flexible in terms of my time. So I do. I did do some teaching in the autumn, which means I've got some more marking right now, but my line manager has given me the flexibility to get that done. And I would say that that's very much the case here. How do you go about making the two roles work together?

 

00:41:50:04 - 00:42:20:02

Prof Rick Whitaker

I think this is probably something that individuals would want to do in different ways depending on what works best for any one person. So some of us have preferred to strictly compartmentalize things. So that means working very much on Parliament stuff on the Parliament days and university stuff on the other days. Others prefer to try and keep an eye on email from the university whilst working in Parliament and it really is up to two individuals I think, about how how best to do that.

 

00:42:20:04 - 00:42:38:08

Prof Rick Whitaker

I found that having two consecutive days working for the University of Leicester has worked better for me. So I started with doing my Leicester job on a Monday and a Friday in Parliament on Tuesday to Thursday and changed that to have Monday to Wednesday working for Parliament and Tuesday and Thursday for the University of Leicester. And that just worked better for me.

 

00:42:38:09 - 00:43:06:10

Prof Rick Whitaker

Gives me a longer period of time to concentrate on university things in one go. But it's worth stressing that Parliament and my university have been very helpful and flexible about allowing me to change my mind about what I was going to do partway through this. But also given the fact that there are certain times of the year where one role or other might just be a lot busier than the other one and you'll need some flexibility, And I've always found that's just been granted to me, which has been really helpful.

 

00:43:06:11 - 00:43:37:09

Prof Rick Whitaker

And I'll just say a couple of things about what I've done as a TRL before I stop. One of the main things I've been working on is a connection that I have with the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, and I'm working on a paper for them which brings together academic research on framework legislation or skeleton bills. And this is legislation where a lot of the policy detail isn't included on the face of the bill, where it's led to be done through secondary legislation which delegates powers to to ministers and that kind of secondary legislation doesn't get a lot of scrutiny.

 

00:43:37:10 - 00:43:59:08

Prof Rick Whitaker

And so this is something that parliaments in the UK and elsewhere have been concerned about. So I'm working on that at the moment. I'm also working on a Commons Library briefing paper on a similar sort of a topic. And this kind of thing is really useful because it gives you a chance to learn to write for different audiences compared to those that you'd normally be working on if you were in your academic job.

 

00:43:59:10 - 00:44:26:08

Prof Rick Whitaker

And so it gives you a chance to expand your set of skills, which I think is really useful from an impact perspective and just gives you the ability to write for a wider range of audiences than you might have had when you when you came into the role. I'm also organizing a series of seminars to bring academics in who are working on topics that are of interest to people in the Select Committees and the Library in the areas that I’m working in.

 

00:44:26:10 - 00:44:49:02

Prof Rick Whitaker

So we have one coming up on ouster clauses in legislation, which are clauses in bills which say that courts are not allowed to rule on those particular clauses. So this is a really obviously a very topical thing with the legislation on Rwanda going through Parliament at the moment. And I've also done a bit of going out to academics to talk to them about how they can feed their research into the UK Parliament.

 

00:44:49:02 - 00:45:01:03

Prof Rick Whitaker

So it's a kind of multi facing role. You talk to research councils, as Kristen said, you work with staff in Parliament and you also face from Parliament to academics as well. Okay, I'll come to stop at that point.

 

00:45:01:05 - 00:45:31:06

Sarah Carter-Bell

Thank you very much, Rick, and thank you to Kristen. I'm sure that was really valuable to hear, but what it's really like to work beside space so moving on to the next slide, thank you so and the next one. So we're moving on to the next steps and so on our next steps slide, you can see a reminder of the key dates and the post-deployment time scale for security vetting.

 

00:45:31:08 - 00:45:50:12

Sarah Carter-Bell

You will also apply for the funding for UKRI during the May to August period and a reminder that the key in-person dates for September and October to induct you into the TRL role are in the frequently asked questions. Okay, so in the top green box on this slide is the link where you'll find the recording of this session.

 

00:45:50:12 - 00:46:14:03

Sarah Carter-Bell

So it will be posted on that area of the web page and we hope to publish that later during next week. You can email us at keu@parliament.uk if you can't find an answer to any questions that you have in the frequently asked questions. And again, if there are any that we have not been able to answer today, we will find the correct answers and publish those through the frequently asked questions.