About Research Analysts
Research Analysts are a specialist cadre in the FCO responsible for supporting the foreign policy-making process, mainly in the FCO but also across Whitehall, with in-depth knowledge built up over many years' study. They are the successor to the Foreign Office Research Department first set up in 1943. They provide a permanent source of expertise on countries, international organisations and global issues. They are organised into seven regional Research Groups and one on International Security and Global Issues. Analysts also deliver through virtual teams on thematic issues following the FCO Strategic Priorities. Analysts work closely with policymakers. They are full members of the Diplomatic Service but are recruited as specialists, often with a doctorate or substantial experience in their field. They spend many years working on their area of expertise, including during overseas postings. As well as providing short analytical pieces to answer immediate operational needs, Research Analysts also prepare papers which take a wider view, both historical and forward-looking. Sometimes analysts take on additional tasks, such as acting as election monitors overseas.
Alongside Records and Historical Department, Research Analysts provide the corporate memory of the FCO and act as the repository of knowledge on the evolution of British government policy towards countries, regions and international institutions. They make a major contribution to analytical work in Whitehall as a whole and regularly exchange views with counterpart organisations overseas. Research Analysts act as the principal interface between the FCO and the academic community. Analysts usually know the principal academic experts in their specialist field. As well as participating in and contributing to seminars and conferences at universities and think tanks, Research Analysts themselves organise over 80 such events every year in the FCO or jointly with universities. Some analysts contribute articles to learned journals and publish books on their areas of specialist expertise.
The papers published are intended to be a contribution to public debate on developments in countries abroad or on current themes of foreign policy interest. Some factual items are offered as helpful background. Views expressed in these articles are those of the analysts concerned and should not be taken as statements of the policy of the British Government.
The role of Research Analysts in the FCO
This paper provides the text of an interview between Jonathan Eyal, Director of Studies at RUSI, and Richard Lavers, Head of FCO Research Analysts, which appeared in the RUSI Journal in December 2000. The article provides an account of the role of the Research Analysts.