Learned Societies

Jackie Cane from the Society of Biology gives an account of how scientists can engage with science policy through learned societies

Learned Societies provide scientists- professional and students alike- with a forum to interact on the broad spectrum of science policy issues, draw expertise from other scientists, and contribute their voice to a co-ordinated and respected message to government.

Learned Societies are frequently consulted on issues by government departments, funding bodies, industry and other national and international organisations.  Societies reply on behalf of their members and so if you join, and join in, you can ensure that your perspective is considered.

There are many Learned Societies covering a vast range of highly specialised and more general subject areas. You can join depending on your interests, qualifications and aspirations.  Many of the Societies are interlinked, offering an opportunity for collaboration when necessary. On policy matters, the government in particular wishes to hear from large unified organisations or groups representing many scientist members.  As a member you can:

Contribute to consultation responses

Detail your evidence and expert opinion through email correspondence, or debate with your peers in policy specific Working Groups.

Highlight emerging issues

Raise your concerns about lab closures, budget cuts, governance of emerging technology or access to higher education. Learned Societies can investigate and provide a forum for debate among the scientific community.

Keep up to date

Newsletters summarise activity at the science-policy interface, invite responses to pressing policy issues, and inform how the Society is making an impact.

Be pro-active

Special interest groups and committees bring together smaller groups within societies to work with more autonomy and authority on specific projects from GM crops to animal testing- check your Learned Society’s website for the chance to be involved. Committees, Boards and Councils recruit subject experts with broad interests to inform higher level and influential views.


Learned Societies value individual and small groups of scientists, and provide a forum for communication, idea sharing and debate.

Learned Societies rely on their membership to provide a balanced and evidence-based opinion to government. Members’ expertise is vital to make a coherent and accurate case for evidence-based policy.  Look at joining these Learned Societies according to your expertise:


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