"This study assesses one of the primary institutional innovations developed in the Scottish Parliament to reconnect individuals with governing bodies, promote public accessibility and ensure transparency in law-making. The Scottish Parliament's petitions system is unique in that it allows members of the public to take their policy proposals and concerns about governmental policy implementation directly to the parliament. To provide for the broadest assessment of the Scottish petitions system, this study uses a multi-method approach.
The first phase of the study treats all petitions submitted to the Scottish Parliament between the parliament's first year (1999) and July 2006 as the unit of analysis. The study's second phase surveys all individuals and organisations that have submitted petitions to the parliament. The goal of this phase is to develop an understanding of who is petitioning the parliament, petitioners relative levels of political engagement, their expectations and evaluations of the petitioning system, and whether the process of petitioning the parliament influences attitudes toward governance in Scotland. On a broad scale this study will help scholars and practitioners understand to what extent advocacy democracy reforms (Dalton, Cain and Scarrow 2003) may help to engage the public with their governing institutions."