Public inquiry methods, processes and outputs: An epistemological critique

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Public inquiries are an important phenomenon in modern British society, often used to address controversial or difficult issues of major concern to policy makers, the media and the public. Although people often comment adversely on how costly inquiries are and how long they take, inquiry methods are rarely discussed, let alone critiqued or challenged. However, from a social sciences perspective, inquiry methods, processes and outputs are often at odds with accepted standards for research methods. This paper discusses this divergence and the implications for how we should regard the inquiry as a way of knowing, or learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-215
Number of pages6
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Epistemology
  • Public inquiry
  • Reliability
  • Research methods
  • Validity


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