COST Action CA15207

Professionalization and Social Impact of European Political Science

WG 4 The advisory role of political scientists in Europe

WG 4 held five working sessions at the Valletta Campus of the University of Malta on 26 January and 27 January  2017 during the ProSEPS meeting.


Points of discussion and decisions

Scope of the study:

  • while practitioner political scientists are felt to be an important category to investigate it is felt these research subjects will remain out of scope of the study.
  • participants agree that political scientists in academic-oriented research institutes should fall within the scope of the study. However, the definition of such institutes will need to be decided. Should these institutes for instance be political-science oriented or not? If not restricted to political-science orientation, what sector orientations should be included?

Policy advice definition

  • there are two views on how to define policy advice. One is broad and sees it as an exchange of policy relevant information or otherwise called knowledge statements, including opinions, recommendations, but also broader policy relevant data. In the narrower view, it is suggested that policy advice pertains to recommendations on policy problems and solutions, offered with a view to ‘influencing’ public policy.

Policy advice versus political consulting

  • Policy advice pertains to the exchange of policy relevant information regarding policy problems and solutions. Political consulting is what many political scientists engage in when they advise e.g. political parties or party foundations on electoral strategies and campaigning. There might be considerable variations in political science communities on this issue.

Teaching and training

  • Some political scientists impact upon policy-makers by teaching and training. For some direct training exchanges may be their foremost transfer points.

Scientific evidence or ideology

  • It is considered important whether policy advice is based on science or whether it is ideologically based. This can be framed in the discussion on whether knowledge statements disseminated by scientists pertain to episteme (scientific knowledge statements), techne (technical knowledge statements), phronesis (value based statements).


Variables operationalisation

Advisory Role Type of Knowledge Frequency of Advice Formality of advice Principal Recipient of Advice Channels of Advice Dissemination
The Ivory Tower Researcher Epistème Never Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable
The Expert Scientific or Applied (what works) Variable Formal Policy makers in the administration, think tanks, committees Policy memos, strategy papers, scientific reports
The Pundit Opinionated normative science or phronesis Very frequently Informal Politicians and Policy Makers, the General Public, Journalists All media channels, non-scientific conferences and events, roundtables
The Renaissance (Wo)man Episteme, Techne and Phronesis Very frequently Formal informal Everyone All channels


The following questionnaire items were discussed

  • Political scientists’ engagement in applied versus fundamental research
  • Political scientists’ engagement in political consulting activities vs exchange of policy relevant information
  • Frequency of advice giving activities
  • Frequency of advice giving activities to a range of recipients
  • Solicited versus unsolicited advice
  • Formal vs informal advice
  • Analytical Styles – Types of advice (facts-causal-predictive-evaluative-normative)
  • Perceptions of advice utilisation by advice recipients
  • Ideal conceptions of role of political scientists in policy advisory system



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