The government’s recognition of the value of the UK research budget in the Spending Review is good news for science and good news for the economy. Romesh Vaitilingam argues new knowledge and innovative ideas generated by research – whether done in the public or private sector – are key drivers of productivity growth. But without public investment, society as […]
Addressing societal challenges: Joined-up research funding could facilitate innovation and engagement.
With changes looming for research councils and research funding as a whole, John Goddard looks at what a more joined-up research council driven by societal challenges would mean for the social sciences. Universities are going to have to increase their capacity to support engagement with society. The social science community therefore needs to actively enter into the fray locally and […]
Bringing together academics and businesses can be a delicate process — What can we do to encourage collaboration?
Bringing together academics and businesses can be a complex and delicate process. Most partnerships are successful, but more is needed to link businesses with academics, writes Ben McLeod. Here he shares some recent survey findings that suggest there are some very real barriers that need to be overcome. For those who do make it work, however, the process and […]
Access to information is now a frontline issue and is visible in many of today’s top news stories. Jacquelyn Gill connects the wider struggles taking place in the US for access to public television, public schools, and research. Are we at risk of giving up too quickly on the ideals of public education and publicly funded research? And what will this mean for […]
What do we want the university as a workplace to look like? Contextualising precarious employment in higher education
Jack Saunders reflects on discussions taking place in humanities departments over what casualised work of various kinds might mean for the sector. He argues there has been little attempt to explain the social processes that have produced these conditions. Academics are workers in institutions that are rapidly “rationalising” their employment practices in line with market imperatives. Understanding casualisation in higher education […]
Was the REF a waste of time? Strong relationship between grant income and quality-related funding allocation.
If the funding allocated to universities on the basis of the REF is correlated to the amount of grant income universities already receive, what is the point of the output assessment process? Jon Clayden explores the relationship between grant income generated and REF-related QR funding and finds a strong correlation between the two, suggesting that the double-counting exercise is surely not the best we […]
Tracking the impact of intervention research reveals complex interplay of researchers’ actions and external factors.
Lucie Rychetnik and Robyn Newson were part of a research group examining the ‘real-world’ impacts of health intervention research. Using an impact assessment scoring system, they found a wide range of possible impacts. They also found local contextual and organisational factors, and unpredictable windows of opportunity were as important as the skills of individual researchers and the quality of their research.
Increasingly, in both […]
Why did REF2014 cost three times as much as the RAE? Hint: It’s not just because of the added impact element.
The benefits of any research assessment framework should ideally outweigh the costs and burden incurred by universities and staff. Derek Sayer argues there should be cause for concern now that recent analysis shows the 2014 REF bill was three times as much as the last UK assessment exercise. The costly increase in staff time was driven by the increased importance […]
The metric tide is rising: HEFCEmetrics report argues metrics should support, not supplant, expert judgement.
James Wilsdon introduces the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. The review found that the production and consumption of metrics remains contested and open to misunderstanding. Wider use of quantitative indicators, and the emergence of alternative metrics for societal impact, could support the transition to a more open, accountable and outward-facing research system. But […]
Job security for early career researchers is a significant factor in helping research make an impact.
Doctorate holders’ careers are increasingly diverse and research funders have a strong interest in exploring how their investment has contributed to the career paths of the researchers supported and how their work benefits society. Funders are also looking to understand the challenges, bottlenecks and opportunities at different career stages in order to tailor policies and activities to researchers’ needs. Siobhan […]
The EU is the world’s largest scientific engine and rising – and the UK is currently in the driving seat.
Modern science is about teams and the EU is a great team needed to take on our 21st century challenges. Here Mike Galsworthy considers the potential consequences that the UK leaving the EU would have on scientific funding and innovation. The EU science funding structure currently enables UK labs to build on the work of diverse and talented multinational science teams.
In the […]
Your grant application is about to die: Research teams that recognise gender dimension offer a competitive advantage.
Funding requirements confirm there is a competitive advantage for research engaged in the active promotion of gender perspectives. Strategic decision-making in universities should also recognise the value a sex and gender dimension adds, both for funding and the quality of research. Curt Rice stresses how social sciences and humanities can help deliver these perspectives more deliberately and explicitly into research.
Last year, the world lost […]
Beyond scientific impact: An evaluation approach that captures societal benefit and minimises documentation effort.
To grapple with the the substantial amount of data generated by research evaluations and impact assessments, funders and institutions must look to improve their communication systems. Birge Wolf, Jürgen Heß and Anna Maria Häring are looking to combine evaluation concepts for inter- and trans-disciplinary research with funders’ increasing interests in societal impact data. Improved data sharing mechanisms will provide more support […]
Despite strong support from funding agencies and policy makers academic data sharing sees hardly any adoption among researchers. Current policies that try to foster academic data sharing fail, as they try to either motivate researchers to share for the common good or force researchers to publish their data. Instead, Dr Sascha Friesike, Benedikt Fecher, Marcel Hebing, and Stephanie Linek argue that […]
Virgina Barbour takes to task publishing giant Elsevier for their latest round of introduced restrictions on the sharing of academic research. Their new policy states that, if no article processing charge is paid, an author’s accepted version of the article cannot be made publicly available via their institution’s repository until after the embargo period, which can ranges from six months to […]
“Who would want to live in a world made up entirely of scientists?” Australia’s Chief Scientist calls for cooperation
Reporting on a recent workshop where Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb outlined the key priorities for research and funding, Jacqui Hoepner discusses the long-term future of Australian research. Professor Chubb stressed the importance of having a broader national conversation about how they will achieve societal change and how researchers should work to meet those ends.
A few weeks ago Australia’s […]
Mark Carrigan draws attention to the growing popularity of self-funded studentships. This option may appeal to cash-strapped academic departments, but these positions are likely to undermine the assumption that this kind of work should be paid, whilst simultaneously privileging those who can work for free. As research funding continues to be squeezed, it is likely practices like this will proliferate.
I see the ‘self-funded studentship’ as a sign […]
Author Katherine Johnson argues for a psychosocial approach that rethinks the relationship between psychic and social realms in the field of sexuality, without reducing it to either. Weaving through an expanse of theoretical and empirical examples drawn from sociology, psychology, queer and cultural studies, she produces an innovative, transdisciplinary perspective on sexual identities, subjectivities and politics. Alexander Blanchard argues […]
Gold open access in practice: How will universities respond to the rising total cost of publication?
Are universities able to shoulder the costs of the open access transition? Stephen Pinfield presents findings on the current state of institutional costs. The total cost of publication is defined as existing subscription costs, article processing charges (APCs) and the costs of administering them. So is the total cost of publication rising for universities overall? In the short term at […]