Pairing schemes are a great way for researchers to learn more about policymaking processes and how science is used in political decision-making! This month’s GeoPolicy Blog post highlights various European-based science-policy pairing scheme opportunities that researchers can apply for.
Science-policy pairing schemes provide researchers with the opportunity to gain a better understanding about how policymakers use evidence, the political landscape relevant to their work, and how they can more effectively engage in policymaking processes. They also provide policymakers with access to scientific expertise and encourage them to consider research in their future decision-making. Unlike science-policy internships and traineeships, that were highlighted in last month’s GeoPolicy blog post, pairing schemes are generally for a shorter period, allowing researchers to undertake them while remaining in their current research position. While all pairing schemes aim to bridge the science-policy gap through short exchanges and two-way dialogues, the parameters of each scheme can vary significantly. For example, most pairing schemes are for a short duration (between a few hours and a few days) but some also involve more than one interaction. The activities that the selected researcher is invited to participate in also vary greatly depending on the governance level (EU, national, or local) involved, current legislative files, and the schedule of the policymaker involved.
Below are a number of science-policy pairing scheme opportunities in Europe that readers of this blog post might be interested in applying for. Please note: this is currently an incomplete list. We will continue to edit and add to it as time goes on. If you know of a science-policy pairing scheme that isn’t yet listed, please share it with us in the comment section below.
EGU’s Science-Policy Pairing Scheme
EGU has been hosting its annual Science-Policy Pairing Scheme since 2019. The EGU’s Science-Policy Pairing Scheme connects a selected EGU member with a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). The selected scientist shadows and works alongside the MEP and their team inside the Parliament for up to a week. Former Pairing Scheme candidates from 2019, 2021, and 2022 have shared their experiences on the GeoPolicy blog which you can read to learn about their key insights and conclusions. The EGU’s Pairing Scheme is open to all EGU members who have an EU citizenship or who reside in the EU. The Next EGU pairing scheme will take place in late 2024. You can keep up to date with developments via the policy section of the EGU website or via our Science for Policy Newsletter.
The Mercator Science-Policy Fellowship-Programme
The Mercator Science-Policy Fellowship-Programme aims to foster dialogue between policymakers from different sectors and researchers from research institutions in Frankfurt, Darmstadt, and Mainz. It allows policymakers to select topics that are relevant to upcoming legislative decisions and, based on their preferences, creates a tailor-made schedule of meetings with researchers who can share their expertise. Since the beginning of the programme, more than 200 policymakers have been involved, participating in almost 2500 face-to-face or virtual meetings with over 700 different researchers. You can hear more information about this Fellowship-Programme on the Science for Policy Podcast that is produced by the EU’s Scientific Advice Mechanism.
The Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme
Each year, the Royal Society hosts a Pairing Scheme that connects 30 researchers with UK parliamentarians and civil servants. This Pairing Scheme takes place in both Westminster (the meeting place of the UK Parliament) and the researcher’s institutions. The Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme is open to scientists across all science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) disciplines who are working in academia or industry. They also consider applications from social and behavioural scientists who have an overlap with STEMM disciplines. Applicants should have at least two years postdoctoral research experience or equivalent research experience in industry.
The Oficina C Pairing Scheme
Oficina C’s Science-Policy Pairing Scheme provides up to 10 selected scientists with the opportunity to spend 3 days at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. Over the course of a week, researchers receive a training programme on Science Advice, hear from invited speakers, and spend time with their partners to learn about their parliamentary work. This visit is then reciprocated with the civil servant visiting the scientist’s home institution to learn more about their work. This Pairing Scheme welcomes researchers from all career stages or disciplines who are working in the public or academic field of science and technology in Spain and who have an interest in scientific advice and science communication.
Young Academy of Scotland Pairing Scheme
The Young Academy of Scotland’s Pairing Scheme brings together five of their members with five Members of the Scottish Parliament to learn about each other’s work and build bridges that support evidence-informed policy. The Pairing Scheme allows the researchers involved to shadow their Member of the Scottish Parliament both inside the Parliament and during their constituency work, and invites the Member of the Scottish Parliament to conduct a reciprocal visit to the researchers’ place of work. This Pairing Scheme is open to all YAS members.
Politics meets Research Pairing Scheme in Luxembourg
The Luxembourg National Research Fund, in cooperation with the Parliament of Luxembourg, hosts an annual Pairing Scheme that enables researchers and members of the Parliament of Luxembourg meet in their respective working environments. The 2024 version comprises of three phases: a World Café with Members of Parliament and Researchers discussing 6 different topics hosted inside Luxembourg’s Parliament, the co-creation of research briefs by selected researchers who participated to the World Café and the research service of the Parliament, and a conference where the publications will be presented. If you’re a researcher working in Luxembourg, you can read more and apply for this pairing scheme here.
Leibniz im Bundestag
Science meets Regions Pairing Schemes
Science meets Regions is an initiative hosted by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission that seeks to promote evidence-informed policymaking at local and regional levels through various instruments and participatory processes. In 2022 and 2023 they promoted the establishment of pairing schemes across EU member states, resulting in a number opportunities for researchers to engage with local and national policymakers. You can see the variety of pairing scheme established and hosted in 2023 here.
Building on the Science meets Regions Pairing Schemes that were run by a number of institutions and universities in 2023, ENGAGEgreen aims to enhance researchers’ knowledge, skills, and competencies for policy engagement, thereby supporting effective knowledge transfer for evidence-informed policy-making. Moving forward, the project will pilot innovative science-policy dialogue initiatives to build long-term networks between scientists and policy-making professionals, creating best practice examples. Follow along to learn more about their Policy Engagement Toolkit and the 40-50 virtual and in-person science-policy dialogue events and trainings that will be hosted across five EU Member States.
Creating your own Science-Policy Pairing Scheme
With their ability to build bridges and connect scientists to policymakers in an informal setting, pairing schemes are growing in popularity in Europe! If your research institution or scientific organisation is interested in science for policy and evidence-informed policymaking, then your team might consider establishing your own version. Before doing so, make sure you think about the governance level that is most relevant for your institutions (whether that be EU, national or local) the outcomes you would like the pairing scheme to have, and the parameters you would like to set for each pair. It’s also a good idea to reach out to others who have established similar initiatives to learn more about the procedures and challenges involved.
We hope that this list is useful to those who are looking to learn more about the science-policy interface and share your expertise with policymakers! If you know of any science-policy pairing schemes that are not included in this blog post, please comment below (or email email@example.com) so that we can add them to our list.