Learning about evidence and policy at the Scottish Government

This summer PhD Student Becky Black had the opportunity to work as a PhD intern at the Scottish Government – she reflects on her time spent there, a substantial departure from her normal role as a PhD student!

This summer instead of going on holiday or continuing to work on my PhD I took a three-month break to work as an intern at the Scottish Government. The internship, facilitated by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, was designed to provide the opportunity to work outside of my PhD topic while developing valuable experience and skills. Throughout the internship I took on a variety of projects across a range of topics: From early learning and childcare to children’s rights to Safeguarders’ in the Children’s Hearing System. A big divergence from researching children’s and parents’ experiences of epilepsy!

I was quickly thrown into the action with a consultation analysis. The Scottish Government recently produced guidance on Children's Rights and Children's Services Planning sections of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Part 1, section 2 and Part 3 respectively). This guidance was put out for consultation and I found analysing the responses received really interesting. I had to quickly become familiar with the core components of the guidance and the Act and enjoyed distilling the responses into feedback for the policy team[1]. I also learnt a lot during this process, which illustrated the importance of the advocating and lobbying role that institutions and charitable organisations play in ensuring that all voices are heard in the government’s work.  I also developed a much deeper understanding of the Act itself and its’ influence on the lives of children with epilepsy and their families.

During my time I also had the opportunity to see how policy and analyst teams work together to ensure evidence-based policy is crafted and implemented. The increased provision of early learning and childcare was one such policy initiative that I was involved in, producing two preliminary reviews of evidence for the policy team. This involved consolidating vast amounts of research to create a report that succinctly summarised the current state of evidence. These reviews were then incorporated in to briefing packs that were sent to the Ministers and policy teams to aid their decision-making.

The internship, while short in duration, provided me with a wealth of experiences and developed a range of transferable skills (e.g. writing succinctly, writing in lay terms and working with different expectations). The experience has also offered me plenty of ideas on how I can improve my own PhD study’s relevance to policy - hopefully widening the future dissemination of my research and engagement with policy makers with a view of changing childhood epilepsy policy and practice.


[1] The analytical report has now been published and available to view online at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/3725/downloads.

Last updated 15 Dec 2016 2:17pm