This page sets out the answers to questions which researchers often ask about the etiquette of meetings with Policy Fellows.
Please see also the list of questions frequently asked by the Fellows.
1. Do Policy Fellows expect me to make a formal presentation of my research?
No. Meetings are typically informal and conversational, though of course if you wish to illustrate the relevant results of your research by reference to papers or presentations you should feel free to do so. If you do wish to make a formal presentation please let us know in advance so that we can let the Fellow know to expect this.
2. Is there anything that Policy Fellows particularly dislike or react against?
Policy Fellows don't like to be lobbied and are usually very good at identifying when this is the case. They expect challenges to their thinking, and pointers to new ways of approaching the questions which they identify for discussion, rather than advocacy (particularly in cases where the researcher is not a disinterested party). Also, please avoid spending too much time bemoaning the lack of funding for your own research area - it's seldom the case that the particular Fellow can do much about this!
3. Can I say "no" when I am asked if I am willing and available to meet a Policy Fellow?
Absolutely! Our process for setting up meetings relies on you opting in to meetings where relevant, and conversely declining when an invitation does not hit the mark. For a typical week of 25-30 meetings, we invite around 50-60 researchers who we believe are most likely to be relevant, but with the clear understanding that the researchers will always be better able to qualify their relevance to the questions than we will.
It's because we can rely on you to say "no" when that's the right answer that we can try the occasional long-shot or left-field invitation; and because we can do this, we will continue to come up with surprising and serendipitous connections which would otherwise not be made.
4. If I'm not sure what a Fellow means by a question, and therefore I'm not sure whether to say "yes" to a meeting, can I ask for clarification?
Yes please. CSaP is in contact with the Fellows during the period between sending out invitations and the initial visit itself, so if you have any queries or requests for clarification, please don't hesitate to contact us.
5. Do all meetings with Policy Fellows have to be an hour long?
No. When arranging the meeting, if you think you need longer - or indeed if you think the relevant discussion can be fitted into 30 minutes - please let us know, and we will schedule accordingly.
6. Do all meetings with Policy Fellows have to be one-to-one?
No. If you would like to suggest involving a particularly relevant colleague or colleagues in the meeting please let us know. We will occasionally suggest joint meetings with other researchers, though generally this is only when time becomes so tight in the Fellow's schedule that there is no other way of fitting everyone in.
7. Where should I meet with Policy Fellows?
We like to arrange meetings with researchers "in their natural habitat" wherever possible; we find that a Policy Fellow gains a fuller understanding of an academic's work if they can see the circumstances in which it is conducted, and if a researcher has materials and resources to hand to illustrate what they have to say.
Where relevant, many Policy Fellows enjoy and value the opportunity to see laboratories, and they also report positively on those situations where they have been able to meet other researchers and students (e.g. in departmental common rooms), provided that the surroundings are conducive to good discussion. If you would rather come to 10 Trumpington Street, or meet in your College rooms or elsewhere, please let us know.
8. Can I meet over lunch or dinner?
We welcome invitations for Policy Fellows to come to College lunches or High Table if that suits you. Alternatively, let us know if you would like us to provide sandwiches for a working lunch.
9. How are Policy Fellows' expectations of the meetings managed?
Each Policy Fellow is told that all of the researchers he or she will meet have volunteered or opted in to meeting him or her because the researcher can offer relevant expertise or perspectives to the discussion of at least one of the Fellow's list of questions. There is no expectation that every meeting will cover the whole list of questions; indeed, the design of a set of meetings is usually based around achieving depth on particular questions in particular meetings, and achieving breadth of coverage through the range of meetings. We also tell Fellows - because this is what previous Fellows have told us - that the most valuable discussions are often the ones that go off in unexpected directions.
10. Is it OK to stray off the subject?
Provided that some of the questions they put forward are addressed, most Fellows welcome input in the form "another question you might want to think about is...". Similarly, most Fellows are very happy to discuss their work more broadly, to explore the reasons why they have posed the questions they have, and also to discuss meta-questions about the ways in which expertise and evidence affect policy and the policy making process. It is certainly legitimate to use the discussion to explore ways in which future development of your research could be made relevant and accessible to the policy making process. It's best, however, not to hijack a meeting to talk about something completely unrelated to the Fellow's questions, just because he or she happens to be accessible.
11. Are Fellows interested only in the practical application of research to their day jobs?
It's certainly the case that Policy Fellows often prefer talking about practical, tangible applications of research rather than more abstract or theoretical discussions. However it's worth bearing in mind that many Fellows see their Fellowships as part of their career development, and they may well be interested in exploring issues well beyond their current direct responsibilities. Fellows also tell us that they value the opportunity for intellectual stimulation offered by these meetings – Fellows are often drawn to the programme by curiosity and because they are already convinced of the value of research for developing policy and strategy.
12. Can I expect the Policy Fellow to do any advance reading?
Absolutely. We will pass on to the Policy Fellow any suggestions you would like to make for papers the Fellow should read in advance, and our experience is that Fellows welcome this. However, we find that Fellows are not easily able to identify for themselves what part of a researcher's published output it is relevant for them to have read in advance, and without prompting it's unlikely that they will have read up on your research ahead of meeting you.
13. Can I pitch sold consultancy to the Fellow in the meeting?
It is perfectly acceptable to put forward to Fellows proposals for any of the ways in which areas of common interest could be carried forward, including (for example) joint research proposals or consulting work. Be aware, however, that being a budget holder is not a criterion for selection as a Policy Fellow, and even where Fellows have control or influence over budgets, formal procurement rules will usually apply.
14. Do I need to route follow-ups through the Centre for Science and Policy?
No, but it's helpful for us to be kept informed. We don't want to form a bottleneck on further development of links between researchers and policy makers, but at the same time we're keen to facilitate and support those developments. Please feel free to contact any Fellow you have met directly (if you don't have the contact details, please ask us), and cc us where possible. Or if you would like us to transmit the request (for example, so that the Fellow doesn't feel under any pressure and can decline if they wish without appearing rude), then please ask us to do so.
15. If a meeting leads to a potential follow-up, can I ask to be included in the schedule for a return visit?
Yes. Please let us know. We maintain a rolling list of people to contact on return visits. We also offer Fellows the option of a Day 6 after their initial week in Cambridge, so you should feel free to encourage them to return.
16. What should I do if I'm not sure if the Policy Fellow will welcome a further approach after the meeting?
It's our experience that Policy Fellows leave Cambridge keen and enthusiastic to pursue lots of follow-up opportunities, though it is of course true that other commitments in their day-to-day jobs will constrain how many of these they can actually pursue. We know of no examples where a Policy Fellow has regarded follow-up contact from a researcher as onerous. If, however, you are concerned that this could be the case, please feel free to route communications through us.
17. Are Fellows asked for feedback on their meetings with researchers?
Yes. CSaP supports Fellows across their two-year fellowships, and collects evaluation data from all Fellows. This has several purposes:
- to identify the most valued discussions and those where we might have a role in facilitating further activities
- to identify the value of the Fellowship to policy professionals and to the University
- to further develop the existing programme
- to identify cross-cutting issues that could be explored in more depth, for example through CSaP Policy Workshops
- to help CSaP identify those researchers who are the most engaged, and with the most relevant expertise on particular topics.
18. What should I do if a meeting turns out to have been a poor use of time?
Please let us know by replying to the automatic email which you will receive after meetings. Our experience is that this applies to a small minority of meetings (only 3% based on the most recent analysis), and that most such instances are the result of our misunderstanding of a Fellow's interests. Where this is the case, it is very important for us to know.
19. What outcome from the meeting should I consider a success?
We judge a Policy Fellow's visit to Cambridge to have been a success if he or she says at the end of it "I now have new ways of thinking about my questions, and a better network of people to work with as I develop my ways of answering them." If your meeting has contributed to such an outcome – even if it's just one comment that the Fellow takes away – then it has been part of that success.