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Emily Rickard and policy engagement

By submitting evidence, writing blog posts, and engaging with the media, Emily has successfully informed policy discussions and contributed to proposed reforms.

Emily Rickard next to a graphic representing her policy engagement activities
Emily Rickard has been actively involved in policy engagement

Emily Rickard, an ESRC-funded PhD student in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences, has helped to shape All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) governance through her engagement work.

Tell us about your research and expertise

"My research critically explores the pharmaceutical industry's influence on health policy decision-making in the UK and internationally, in countries like Sweden and Japan. I focus on both direct and indirect interactions with policy stakeholders. This includes examining All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) and their interactions with the industry, revealing how financial relationships can shape health policies at multiple levels of governance."

For further information see: Select Committees and APPGs

How is the work you're doing relevant to policymakers?

"My findings reveal intricate and often unrealised financial ties between the pharmaceutical industry and key policy stakeholders, mapping overt lobbying efforts as well as more covert channels that may not be immediately apparent. This dual focus of my research generates insights that can make policymakers uniquely equipped to discern and mitigate potential conflicts of interest, fostering a policymaking environment that prioritises public health and maintains integrity.

"The findings from my work serve as a critical resource for policymakers striving to safeguard the transparency and ethical standards essential in health policy formulation."

Also see: Stakeholder mapping

How have you engaged policy professionals with your research?

"I have actively engaged with policy professionals by submitting written evidence to a UK Parliamentary Committee on Standards inquiry, which directly utilised the data and insights from my research.

"My research has also received significant media attention, having been covered in outlets such as The Sunday Times and the Guardian, further raising the profile of these issues among policymakers and the public. I think this blend of direct engagement with policy processes and broader dissemination through the media helps bridge the gap between academic research and practical policy considerations."

Also see: Government consultations and evidence requests; Select Committees and APPGs; Communicating research for policy audiences.

How have you worked with the IPR on policy engagement?

"I authored a blog post through the IPR to disseminate my research findings and translate complex academic analyses into clear, actionable insights that are easily understandable for policymakers and stakeholders.

"I am also currently working with colleagues on an IPR policy brief offering recommendations on how to improve the transparency of interactions between the pharmaceutical sector and the UK healthcare system."

Also see: Policy briefs

What methods do you think have been most successful?

"I think a multifaceted engagement strategy is crucial to amplify the impact of research.

"Submitting evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on Standards Inquiry allowed me to be directly involved in the policy process where my evidence contributed towards changes in how APPGs operate. Leveraging the media also helped me to amplify the reach and impact of my research across audiences. I am also excited to gain new skills working with the IPR team on the policy brief. Together, these methods have ensured that my insights are not only heard but are also seen as credible and relevant by a wide array of policy actors."

What has happened as a result?

"My research has informed significant policy discussions and contributed to proposed reforms in the governance of APPGs, emphasising the need for greater transparency and management of conflicts of interest. These contributions were reflected in the Parliamentary Committee on Standards’ final report, which aligned closely with both the evidence I submitted concerning the need for clearer financial disclosures and stricter regulation of APPG secretariats, as well as my published research concerning indirect and hidden corporate funding behind many health-oriented APPGs.

"I think that the different types of engagement also generate a snowball effect. For example, contributing to the Parliamentary Inquiry triggered interest and contact from across media outlets, and then coverage in high-profile media outlets led to further public engagement but also new avenues for research that is relevant to policy stakeholders."

What have you learnt about the process of policy engagement?

"I learnt the importance of accessibility and relevance in communicating complex research findings to policy stakeholders and the public – don’t overcomplicate things as ‘less’ very much is ‘more’! I also discovered that it is important not to miss any opportunities – even if they don’t come to fruition, something at some point will stick and no price can be put on the potential to impact policy that affects us all."

What advice would you give others?

  1. Understand the policy landscape deeply to identify where your research can address critical gaps – I was fortunate that the timing of my research coincided with an active Parliamentary Inquiry.
  2. Engage through diverse channels, including directly communicating your research with policymakers as well as engaging the media to ensure your research reaches and resonates with both policymakers and the public.
  3. Ensure that your findings are presented in a manner that is both accessible and actionable.
‘Don’t overcomplicate things as ‘less’ very much is ‘more’!’
Emily Rickard PhD student, Department of Social and Policy Sciences

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Get in touch with the IPR if you would like help and support with policy engagement.