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Getting Politicians to Listen

In the UK, members of parliament are kept aware of what's going on in science through several channels, the most prominent being the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, says The Guardian's Adam Smith. POST gives MPs briefings on a wide range of topics, and holds seminars for them, in collaboration with scientists and industry. Though they are not perfect, these POSTnotes, as they are called, are a good resource for politicians, Smith says.

But not if the politicians don't use them. "According to POST's 2009 survey, 80 percent of parliamentarians said they had referred to the POSTnotes more than once," Smith says. "But four of the parliamentarians surveyed had not even heard of the service. And the House of Commons Survey of Services 2010 found that 38 percent of MPs said they did not use POSTnotes or seminars." So now, he adds, it's up to POST and its new head — the University of Cambridge's Chris Tyler — to raise the office's profile.

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