By Marc Geddes
I have been Communications Officer for the PSA Specialist Group on Parliaments for almost two years, and I have loved it. It has allowed me to engage with a range of academics, researchers, students and practitioners to help disseminate their research whilst also promoting the study of parliaments and legislatures across the UK. The main way that I have sought to do this is through our website, and especially through our blogs, which cover topical issues or overviews of legislatures. But why does this even matter? Why should parliamentary and legislative scholars be blogging? There are at least three reasons, and each relates to the audience that we are trying to engage: the public, practitioners, and academics.
Politicians, the public, think-tanks, journalists and academics alike have increasingly focused in recent times on how parliaments and legislatures work and how to make them work better in terms of policy-making, representation, scrutiny and accountability. Yet, despite this focus, the evidence base for making judgments about the effectiveness of parliaments and legislatures is arguably not as extensive as it could be, perhaps partly because of methodological difficulties in assessing the influence, impact and power of these institutions.
By Tom Caygill
Last year I was one of the lucky two applicants to be offered one of the PSA/House of Commons Committee Office placements. The placement was a great opportunity: to utilise the skills I use in my PhD in a different context, while developing new ones; to better understand the ethos of select committees; and to discuss my doctoral research with parliamentary staff, which has gone on to help shape my final research design.
We just wanted to share the great success that we had at the PSA Conference in Brighton last week – having held a range of panels and talks throughout Tuesday and Wednesday of the Conference.