The Forum short course, part 7: Tools for engaging with policymakers – evidence submissions

Submitting evidence

In part 7 of The Forum’s short course, we provide some of our top tips on putting together a useful and accessible evidence submission for parliamentary select committee inquiries and government consultations.

Both government and Parliament request evidence from experts, bodies and the public. Read on to find out about responding to government calls for evidence and parliamentary select committee inquiries.

Responding to government calls for evidence and consultations

Government will regularly call for evidence on current public policy priority areas.

  • Government departments will publish calls for evidence on their websites and on the government consultations page. You can also find a list of consultations relevant to Imperial researchers on our 'Engaging with the Civil Service' page.
  • The terms of reference of the call will usually set out the required format for the response. Get in touch with The Forum team for support with this and help with preparing your response.
  • Sign up to The Forum monthly policy bulletin to receive information about the latest opportunities to engage and attend one of The Forum's policy engagement seminars to learn more.

Responding to parliamentary evidence calls 

Parliament will regularly call for evidence on current public policy priority areas.

  • Open calls for evidence for Select Committee inquiries in both the House of Commons and House of Lords. It is a good idea to check these regularly and to submit evidence to a suitable inquiry – The Forum page on engaging with Parliament will help and here you can find a list of open Select Committee inquiries.
  • The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology is Parliament’s in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology. Check its current and planned work to see whether you have fitting expertise.

How to prepare an evidence submission

  • The terms of reference of the call will usually set out the required format for the response. There are also parliamentary guidelines for submitting evidence to Select Committees. You will not need to answer every question set in the call for evidence. Think about what your key argument is and how your research findings underpin it.
  • Good submissions start with a short key messages section that summarises the argument and conclusion. Be aware the many readers will only read this section so make sure it covers your main messages succinctly. You can set out your argument and its underpinning evidence in more detail in the main body, followed by any recommendations if you wish to make them.
  • Committees usually receive many written submissions, so you need to get your main points across in an accessible and memorable format. It is helpful to focus on a limited number of key points in response to the questions they are asking that you want the Committee to understand and remember. Bear in mind that they will not be topic experts so keep it simple and provide additional explanation to complex issues.
  • All evidence submitted to inquiries will be made available on the Committee website. Witnesses called subsequently will also be listed so it is a good idea to look at their submissions to get a sense of what Committees find helpful. You can also read Imperial’s submission to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into Life Sciences and the Industrial Strategy.
  • Share a draft of your response with The Forum team to get further bespoke advice.