The Policy Institute at King’s College London, along with colleagues in the digital humanities department, teamed up with technology company Digital Science to build a searchable database and produce a rich analysis of the impact case studies for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Saba Hinrichs and Jonathan Grant introduce the key findings of the analysis and explain how the resource […]
Measuring development: the importance of statistics on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.
In 2013 the UN set up a specific group to look at broadening its data gathering. This is part of a wider trend looking to embrace partnerships that can provide regular evidence of development progress. Thomas Wheeler and Craig Fagan argue that in the age of ‘open’ government, budgets, contracts and aid, there is no reason why data should remain the remit […]
Under Ed Miliband, the Labour Party’s ideational activities have taken centre stage. His wonky style is derided by many, but gurus, intellectuals and policy wonks perform a crucial role in the political process, says Eunice Goes. The role of intellectuals and experts does not stop with political diagnosis. They also help political actors, and in particular political parties, to develop ideas […]
The grant economy as tragedy of the commons – are researchers just wasting time by applying for ever-elusive funding?
Pressure to bring in grants is steady and increasing, but with only 20% of US applications receiving funding, is the collective time spent writing multiple rejected applications actually worth it? Unless the pool of grant funding is massively increased at the federal level—a remote possibility—this is a zero-sum game. Elizabeth Popp Berman suggests a cap to the number of applications—either at […]
Publication of the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework evaluation of the quality of work undertaken in all UK universities last December attracted much attention, as league tables of university and department standings were constructed and estimates of the financial consequences of the achieved grades were assessed. Soon after that, a book was published savagely criticising the peer […]
A few weeks ago allegations surfaced over undisclosed ties between Dr Willie Soon, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and corporate interests from the energy industry. Dr Soon is now under investigation, and a Democratic member of Congress has used it as an opportunity to suggest climate change academics who have been invited by Republicans to give evidence at Congressional […]
Social scientists have a real opportunity to influence what politicians say in the run-up to the General Election.
Academic researchers – not just media pundits – should have their say in holding policy promises to account. Jonathan Breckon charts the various activities around the country aimed at providing a rigorous evidence-base in the run-up to the UK’s General Election. A whole range of economists, statisticians, social scientists and others are fact-checking what politicians and pundits say so that they don’t get […]
Social science embedded in science: Innovation depends on greater understanding of attitudes and social processes.
The labour market is filled with social science graduates and postgraduates shaping the evolution of the UK’s comparative advantage. Growth depends on the service sector innovating and improving productivity. Without a better grasp of people and their motives, technological advances may fail to realise their potential and may be frustrated or blocked. David Walker introduces a new report from the Campaign for […]
Building bridges in development: Five recommendations to connect the islands of research, policy and practice.
Elizabeth Harrison, Eleanor Jew, Thomas Smith, Iqbal Ahmed and Sarah Peck present the recommendations from a recent conference for early-career researchers on bridging the gap in development research, policy and practice. Participants were encouraged to consider partnership-based solutions to development problems. From having a realistic understanding of intended outcomes to formulating relevant research questions, constructive debate took place on how […]
Prospering Wisely: How research helps us confront the tough choices we face in creating a healthier society.
We are witnessing a growing mistrust, not only in political processes and politicians, but in social institutions as a whole. Inequality is also rising on many crucial dimensions. Lord Stern of Brentford, President of the British Academy argues we need a new kind of national conversation, and the voice of the humanities and social sciences must be at its […]
The importance of meta-analysis and systematic review: How research legacy can be maximized through adequate reporting
Systematic reviews are widely accepted as a ‘gold standard’ in evidence synthesis and the meta-analysis within provides a powerful means of looking across datasets. Neal Haddaway argues that while certain fields have embraced these reviews, there is a great opportunity for their growth in other fields. One way to encourage secondary synthesis is for researchers to ensure their data is reported in […]
The Royal Statistical Society recently released their Data Manifesto focussing on the potential of data to improve policy and business practice. Hetan Shah, Executive Director of the Society, makes the case for doing so, arguing also that improving the country’s data and statistical literacy should be a priority.
This piece originally appeared on Democratic Audit.
As the long election campaign begins, we hear claims […]
Misunderstanding data: Can researchers simplify longitudinal data for policymakers without it leading to errors?
Following the comments made on evidence-based policymaking by the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Leon Feinstein provides further background on the longitudinal data discussed and defends the findings against some key misunderstandings of the data. For those trying to enhance the use of evidence, an important question is always how to simplify without introducing error and understating uncertainty.
As head of evidence in the Early Intervention Foundation, a […]
Last week, President Obama announced that community college will be made free for all students for the first two years of study. Sara Goldrick-Rab welcomes the announcement, which will be especially helpful for less affluent families who spend a large proportion of their family income on college. She writes that the next steps in improving college affordability should include making the first […]
The messiness inherent to policymaking is a real challenge – can evidence alone outshine tribal instincts?
The Policy Institute at King’s advocates for the use of evidence as a key element in effective policymaking. However, translating research into policy is far from easy. Jonathan Grant, Benedict Wilkinson and David Willetts MP weigh in on how to explore new ways of engaging with evidence and engaging with policymakers. From developing better networks and communities of evidence-based practice to […]
The Future of Science Advice in Europe: Termination of the Chief Scientific Advisor role forces needed conversation.
Following the disappointment of the removal of the European Commission’s office of Chief Scientific Advisor, Roger Pielke, Jr. looks at the past three years and finds the office was largely powerless and disconnected. The establishment of the office was a symbolic gesture, rather than representing any substantive commitment to improving science advice in Europe. But the termination of the office may act as a […]
Though many are convinced that better social science evidence will make for better policies, we do not know how to turn that conviction into a reality. Nancy Cartwright and Julian Reiss argue that current efforts in evidence-based policy tend to focus on improving the credibility of results. But that is not enough. It is now time to invest heavily in developing methods […]
Against REFonomics: Quantification cannot satisfy the demands of rationality, equity and tolerability.
Academics are assured by government ministers and institutional heads that research assessment is designed on their behalf. Liz Morrish looks at whether the assessment tools created have extended their reach and left academics exposed. At its best, the REF distorts research agendas and priorities. However, a graver hazard is that a new selective and competitive academic will be formed, whose […]
UK Science and Innovation Strategy – Lots of enthusiasm for science but surprisingly little new content.
The UK government’s Science and Innovation Strategy released earlier this week fails to recognise the challenges facing UK research sustainability. Athene Donald considers the enthusiastic spin in light of wider funding issues. Surprisingly, a new review of the research councils is suggested. More effective cross-council working is certainly needed, but an overhaul or further consolidation could do more harm than good.
There has […]
Head of Research Policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Steven Hill, presents an overview of the work HEFCE are currently commissioning which they are hoping will build a robust evidence base for research assessment. He argues that attention on the costs, benefits, problems and solutions of the REF are an obvious starting point, but it is also important that the […]