Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Case Study / Policy Internship RESAS & Nada Saidi

Since 2017/18 ECCI and SAGES – the network that gives organisations, businesses and policy-makers to access geosciences-related expertise from across Scotland – have been teaming up to offer a pioneering career enhancement opportunity for SAGES PhD students

The programme links students with relevant host organisations and is at the forefront of bringing academia and business together to tackle global environmental challenges. A range of business, third and public sector organisations working in priority areas of interest for SAGES were matched with PhD students to work together on meaningful consultancy projects.

Here we hear about Nada Saidi’s work with The Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) division of the Scottish Government. A PhD student at Geography & Environmental Sciences, School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee, Nada undertook a six month policy fellow internship with the Scottish Government division.

Nada was asked to explore the Resarch Excellence Framework (REF) system evaluation tools, and investigate how a similar system may be established that could assess an academic’s engagement within policy and regulatory development.

What did you do and how did you find the experience?

I worked under the supervision of Prof Andrew Millar, Chief Scientific Adviser for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. I was tasked with developing a framework to assess the anticipated contribution of research outputs to policy.

From the start, Andrew encouraged me to make the project my own. We designed the project strategy together and he trusted me with organising my work around my PhD commitments.

To achieve our goals, I conducted a literature review and a stakeholder consultation across RESAS’ Centres of Expertise.

Has this placement helped you to understand how policy-based organisations operate?

I found the experience very rewarding. I learnt a lot about how the environmental science-policy interface operates in Scotland – Andrew was a great mentor and helped me build my confidence.

Furthermore, I was able to communicate my results both in an academic and policy format, publishing an academic paper and preparing a deck of slides for Andrew to present to the Strategic Advisory Board.

Read Nada’s paper: “Evaluating the anticipated policy impact of research outputs”

Do you think the internships are useful for your future career prospects?

Yes, definitely. I want to work with governmental organisations to mainstream nature into policies, so what I learnt about the use of knowledge in policy will be valuable.

The internship gave me the confidence to apply to my new position at Defra, that I will be starting in a few weeks. I was also able to share my experience during the application process.

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