Suggestions that scientists should run for political office or campaign to promote their work are counterproductive and ultimately self-defeating (Nature 480, 153; 2011). Science needs a permanent pipeline into policy, not temporary windows cracked open by individual researchers.

Lobbying takes time and money: more than US$3.5 billion was spent in 2010 on lobbying US Congress members. Academic scientists simply cannot compete on that scale.

Scientists must be impartial arbiters of data, not political agents. They need to be able to negotiate with governments, irrespective of their political hue, and to advise politicians in a useful and timely way.

Scientific-liaison offices would give scientists an apolitical route to policy formation. These would have a cross-ministerial mandate to make research results accessible and enable politicians and policy-makers to reach informed decisions.

When politicians ignore science, it is a failure of our system of governance rather than of individual scientists to act as lobbyists for their research.