Briefing lawmakers

Ella Rhodes reports on the latest 'POSTnote'.

A forensic psychology PhD student has recently taken time out from her research to work on a briefing note for the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. The document on migrants and housing, written by Claire Tranter (University of Westminster), will be used by MPs and peers.

Currently in the final year of her PhD, Tranter secured a Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) Postgraduate Award from the British Psychological Society. Her ‘POSTnote’ covers the impacts of migration on the housing system and different types of tenure, how migration is measured, and an extra section on migrant wellbeing. ‘I’ve tried to cover a broad area. I’ve looked at whether there’s an impact of migrants on the housing system. I’ve also looked at data and how the way migration is measured can be an issue when comparing migration figures. I realised there’s no standard definition for migrants, when people are looking at net migration or migrants and housing they’re looking at completely different things.’

As a psychologist, Tranter also wanted to include a psychological element in her note. Her section on migrant wellbeing covers community cohesion, public perceptions of migrants and how housing problems affect wellbeing. Tranter said after four years of working on her PhD project, which is investigating persuasion in the online and real-world environments, she was ready to try applying research outside of academia. As well as conducting literature reviews, Tranter interviewed scores of experts as part of the research into the note.

She said the experience had taught her far more skills than she was expecting: ‘Having to cover so much information in four pages was a real challenge, and as they’re written for the layperson you can’t assume any prior knowledge. One of the main learning curves I had was condensing all that information and making it readable and succinct. I’ll hopefully be able to apply that to my PhD now!’

While her time at POST had been challenging, Tranter said it had been the best thing she’d ever done. ‘I would recommend it to anyone. The skills you learn and the people you meet, the fact you can take a break from your PhD and get to learn something completely different has been great. I’ve loved it.’ 

- The BPS POST Postgraduate Award is made annually  Look out for the next round of applications, which will be advertised in The Psychologist in early summer next year.

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