Research briefings

This page provides access to research briefings produced by the House of Commons Library, the House of Lords Library and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). You can filter the research briefings by date, type, or one of 350 topics. Pick your options from the dropdown menus.

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    • Commons Briefing papers: Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Lords Library Notes: Authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
    • POSTbriefs: Responsive policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on mini-literature reviews and peer review, typically commissioned by select committees and library research services.
    • POSTnotes: Proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board.
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    Topics: Research material can be filtered by subject using the topic terms. The topics are arranged in a taxonomy (a hierarchical classification) and can be further filtered using sub-topics.

Displaying 1-20 out of 38

Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | Lords Library notes LLN-2019-0054
This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [HL] on 13 May 2019.
Universal Credit and the claimant count
Published Friday, January 18, 2019 | Commons Briefing papers CBP-7927
This briefing paper explains how Universal Credit is increasing the number of people claiming unemployment benefits, by requiring a broader group of claimants to look for work than was the case under Jobseeker’s Allowance. There has been a marked increase in the claimant count over the past year in areas operating Universal Credit “Full Service”, where the rollout of Universal Credit is more advanced. On the 22 January 2019, the Department for Work and Pensions will publish an ‘alternative’ claimant count. This will model what the claimant count would have been if Universal Credit had been fully in place since 2013.
Tables style guide
Published Tuesday, December 19, 2017 | Commons Briefing papers SN05072
This guide sets out the basic formats, styles and good practice for the tables produced by the statistics sections of the House of Commons Library. It also includes some ideas for laying out tables when simple ‘rules’ are not enough.
Chart style guide
Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Commons Briefing papers SN05073
This guide and sets the visual style and some principles for good statistical charts. As used by the statistics sections of the House of Commons Library
Communicating Risk
Published Monday, November 13, 2017 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0564
People's responses to risk are shaped by the way that such risks are communicated. Communicating risks effectively can defuse concerns, mitigate disaster situations and build trust with public institutions and organisations. This POSTnote defines the often misunderstood concepts of risk, uncertainty and hazard and describes the key stakeholders communicating it. It examines the factors that shape how people perceive and respond to such risks and summarises evidence on effective risk communication strategies.
Understanding statistics on employment, unemployment and earnings
Published Wednesday, July 12, 2017 | Commons Briefing papers SN07119
This note explains the meaning of different concepts within labour market statistics and identifies the key measures and sources to use.
Appointment of Chair of the UK Statistics Authority
Published Thursday, March 2, 2017 | Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-0078
This information has been prepared ahead of debate on a motion on the Appointment of the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, on Tuesday 7 March 2017 in the House of Commons Chamber.
Publishing Statistics on the Time Spent on Parliamentary Proceedings on Each Part of an Act
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2017 | Lords In Focus LIF-2017-0001
This House of Lords Library briefing examines the background to a proposal that information should be published alongside every Act showing the length of time spent on it at each stage in the parliamentary process to highlight the level of scrutiny it had received.
Measuring Living Standards
Published Monday, March 30, 2015 | POSTnotes POST-PN-491
This POSTnote outlines different approaches to setting and measuring thresholds and their strengths and limitations. It also summarises research on recent trends in living standards and the key factors that influence them.
Social Indicators
Published Friday, March 1, 2013 | Commons Briefing papers RP13-16
A compendium of the latest social statistics. This edition includes articles on: Why has crime fallen around the world?; International Year of Statistics.
International Year of Statistics: Social Indicators article
Published Friday, March 1, 2013 | Commons Briefing papers SN06568
A brief article on Statistics2013 - the International Year of Statistics. This is an article in the March 2013 edition of the Social Indicators research paper.
Measuring National Wellbeing
Published Monday, September 17, 2012 | POSTnotes POST-PN-421
This POSTnote summarises the latest research on measuring national wellbeing, its components and causes, and examines some policy implications.
Measuring well-being
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 | Commons Briefing papers SN06311
How is measurement of well-being or "happiness" being investigated in the UK to complement more traditional measures of progress?
Unemployment by Constituency: changes to working-age rates
Published Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Commons Briefing papers SN05675
From August 2010, the ONS has switched from using the 'working-age' population to using the whole population aged 16 to 64 as the basis upon which a variety of headline labour market statistical indicators are presented. This note provides details on the change and looks at its effect on the Library's JSA claimant rate.
How to spot spin and inappropriate use of statistics
Published Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Commons Briefing papers SN04446
Statistics can be misused, spun or used inappropriately in many different ways. This is not always done consciously or intentionally and the resulting facts or analysis are not necessarily wrong. They may, however, present a partial or overly simplistic picture. This guide details some common ways in which statistics are used inappropriately or spun and some tips to help spot this. The tips are given in detail at the end, but the three essential questions to ask yourself when looking at statistics are -Compared to what? -Since when? -Says who?
How to understand and calculate percentages
Published Monday, January 11, 2010 | Commons Briefing papers SN04441
The UK system of official statistics
Published Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Commons Briefing papers SN05244
Indicators of hospital performance published by the Care Quality Commission and Dr. Foster Research
Published Thursday, December 3, 2009 | Commons Briefing papers SN05237
This note examines measures of hospital standards and patient safety published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Dr. Foster Research Limited and critically appraises the methodology underpinning their assessments. Concerns have been raised about the lack of consistency between the CQC and Dr. Foster ratings; in the final section, a comparison is made between the two, and some explanations for the discrepancies are offered.
Parliamentary Trends: Statistics about Parliament
Published Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | Commons Briefing papers RP09-69
This paper provides a summary of statistics about Parliament. It brings together figures about both the House of Commons and Lords; their membership and activities. The aim is to provide comparisons over time, though periods may vary according to relevance and the availability of consistent data. Some are for parliamentary sessions (a parliamentary session begins each year with the Queen’s Speech) some by calendar year and some by financial year. This should be borne in mind when comparing different sets of information.

Displaying 1-20 out of 38

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The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.

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The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.


The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.

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