Skip to Content
Back to resources
Published by

Katie Barclay, Communications Coordinator, Leeds Social Sciences Institute

25 April 2019, 4:50 UTC Share

Leeds Social Sciences Institute engaging policy

In January 2019, LSSI and Leeds Barc University Business School hosted a workshop which brought together researchers at Leeds with those operating in policy and analysis at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The point of convergence was the DWP ‘Areas of Research Interest’ (ARI) Document, with its five overarching areas: employment; disability; security in later life; children, families and disadvantage; and service delivery. The event aimed to find areas of commonality where research strengths at Leeds aligned with these research interests, as well as to consider how researchers may go about connecting with DWP successfully in the future. The questions that arose seemed focused on maintaining or improving means of connection and communication between researchers and policy makers:

• Whilst researchers tend to work within one discipline over a long period of time, for civil servants it is rare to remain in one position for more than a few years. Often connections are established and maintained between specific individuals due to chance meetings. Is there a way that we can formalise these connections? What happens if the person who is the ‘institutional link’ moves on?
• It may work well to utilise cross-disciplinary mechanisms at the university, such as institutes or centres, which are not aligned with one specific disciplinary area and that can act as primary points of contact, using institutional knowledge to link up relevant individuals.

A further point on communication that came out of these discussion was that whilst there are barriers that come with having individual points of contact, the power of these organically fostered connections should not be underestimated. A new initiative that LSSI, DWP and Leeds University Business School have been piloting since autumn 2018 is a series of ‘Linking Leeds’ seminars. At each seminar, a researcher (both from Leeds and other universities) presents on a research area of their choice, followed by time for questions. Presentation titles have included: ‘Exploring the rise of emergency food in the UK’, ‘The uneven impact of welfare reform’ and ‘Child and Family Policy’. The seminars have become popular with staff and students from the University as well as with policy analysts, strategists and researchers from DWP, and even some other Leeds-based organisations, causing some seminars to become ‘standing room only’! Whilst sharing research outside of the university is in itself incredibly important, possibly the most valuable outputs are the individual conversations, the informal chats, and the sharing of email addresses to follow up at a later date.
In May, LSSI will play host to representatives from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Department for Transport, who will explore their research priorities with social scientists at Leeds. The event will also bring together representatives from the wider policy community, such as Think Tank ‘IPPR North’ and ‘The Academy of Social Sciences’. The event is designed to find areas of commonality between research and policy agendas and to provide a space for individual connections to be made, whilst also exploring new ways in which we can act institutionally to support researchers who are looking for a springboard to propel their research beyond the university.
We’ll be sharing outcomes and follow-up from the May event on our website ( ), where you can also find a follow-up report from January’s event with DWP. We also share insights and thoughts on our Twitter page (@UoLSSI).


Katie Barclay, Communications Coordinator, Leeds Social Sciences Institute

Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) is committed to fostering collaborations that can produce ‘research with impact’. It nurtures interdisciplinary research collaborations and supports social scientists with public and policy engagement; promoting relations with external partners locally, nationally and internationally.

Author: Katie Barclay, Communications Coordinator, Leeds Social Sciences Institute

Back to resources