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    Barriers to research collaboration: are social scientists constrained by their desire for autonomy?

Barriers to research collaboration: are social scientists constrained by their desire for autonomy?

Researchers everywhere are being pushed to collaborate. Individual academics are being urged to join teams, small teams are encouraged to merge with others to become bigger teams, and institution-wide and inter-institutional collaborations are spreading. With potential benefits including increased chances of funding, visibility, and impact, why, asks Jenny M. Lewis, are social scientists not embracing collaboration more? Might it […]

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    Government policies favouring research for economic returns can overlook existing strengths in arts and humanities

Government policies favouring research for economic returns can overlook existing strengths in arts and humanities

There is an argument that the best way for governments to allocate resources for research is to prioritise those areas most likely to deliver economic returns. Andrew Gibson and Ellen Hazelkorn explain how, shortly after its Great Recession, Ireland prioritised research fields aligned with industrial sectors rather than disciplinary excellence or societal challenges. By starting with an orientation toward […]

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    Peer review processes risk stifling creativity and limiting opportunities for game-changing scientific discoveries

Peer review processes risk stifling creativity and limiting opportunities for game-changing scientific discoveries

Today, academics must prepare written proposals describing the research they wish to conduct and submit them to funding agencies for evaluation – a process known as peer review. According to Don Braben and Rod Dowler, the current peer review process actually serves as a blocker to more radical research, stifling creativity and limiting opportunities for game-changing discoveries. Obviously peer review should not be abandoned entirely, but […]

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    Research funding is a gamble so let’s give out money by lottery

Research funding is a gamble so let’s give out money by lottery

Under the current system of research funding, expert reviewers take time to identify the best work and allocate grant money accordingly. But as applications increase and success rates fall, this often means more adventurous proposals are not funded. Moreover, evidence shows peer review assessments are biased, with women and minorities less likely to secure grants. Wouldn’t it be better, asks Shahar Avin, […]

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    Increasing REF’s impact weighting could offer incentive for institutions to address societal, economic and global challenges

Increasing REF’s impact weighting could offer incentive for institutions to address societal, economic and global challenges

Challenges posed by events such as Brexit highlight the importance of excellent research programmes. Moreover, they represent a broader context in which the next Research Excellence Framework must consider ‘impact’. But do current REF proposals go far enough towards doing this? Matthew Guest argues that there is not enough of an incentive for institutions to address heightened societal, economic […]

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    Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Think tanks, evidence and policy: democratic players or clandestine lobbyists?

Depending on your perspective, think tanks either enrich the democratic space by conducting policy research and facilitating public dialogue and debate, or undermine democracy by pushing policies favoured by powerful corporate interests. Till Bruckner explains how Transparify are contributing to debate about think tanks’ role in evidence-based policymaking by assessing their levels of financial transparency. The Transparify report, released […]

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    The university challenge: what would an Intelligent Brexit look like?

The university challenge: what would an Intelligent Brexit look like?

The EU brought invaluable networks for research and collaboration to the UK. More than that, it fostered a shared democratic culture of openness and tolerance. But these links will have to change as Britain pursues a hard Brexit. Time is short, write Anne Corbett and Claire Gordon, and universities need to make the case for an ‘Intelligent Brexit’ that will […]

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    UK research can tackle global challenges but only if we heed lessons on research impact

UK research can tackle global challenges but only if we heed lessons on research impact

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. As the GCRF looks to fund interdisciplinary research and maximize its impact, James Georgalakis reflects on what can be learned from previous examples of successful evidence-based policymaking; from the importance of […]

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Why are interdisciplinary research proposals less likely to be funded? Lack of adequate peer review may be a factor.

Recent findings suggest interdisciplinary research is less likely to be funded than discipline-based research proposals. Gabriele Bammer looks at how interdisciplinary research is currently peer reviewed and argues different review processes may well be required to do justice to these different kinds of interdisciplinarity. Discipline-based researchers may be ill-equipped to evaluate the integrative processes that an interdisciplinary proposal plans to […]

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    Social science at the crossroads: the history of political science in the USA and the evolution of social impact.

Social science at the crossroads: the history of political science in the USA and the evolution of social impact.

What role should social scientists play in society? Louisa Hotson explores the evolution of the social sciences through four periods in the history of political science, each with different implications for how social science makes a difference. These lessons from history encourage us to think more broadly than we have in recent decades about how we define the ‘impact’ of the social […]

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    Ideas boom or innovation bust? Could Australia’s ‘ideas agenda’ stifle real innovation?

Ideas boom or innovation bust? Could Australia’s ‘ideas agenda’ stifle real innovation?

Australia’s so-called ‘ideas boom’ comes at a cost to research funding and sustainable infrastructure, Kanishka Jayasuriya and Carol Johnson write. An emphasis on entrepreneurial culture at the expense of wider public research investment risks socialising the risks of research and privatising the benefits, which ultimately may do lasting harm to both sectors.

Innovation is a central part of Australian Prime Minister […]

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    What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.

What makes research excellent? Digging into the measures aimed at quantifying and promoting research excellence.

“Research excellence” is a tricky concept in theory and arguably trickier to capture in practice. Toni Pustovrh shares findings from a recent study which looks at how research is currently quantified and evaluated in Slovenia. In-depth interviews with scientists reveal a variety of views on the concept and the current mechanisms in place. The analysis suggests that neither a predominantly peer-review based […]

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    Fundable, but not funded: How can research funders ensure ‘unlucky’ applications are handled more appropriately?

Fundable, but not funded: How can research funders ensure ‘unlucky’ applications are handled more appropriately?

Having a funding application rejected does not necessarily mean the research is unsupportable by funders – maybe just unlucky. There is a significant risk to wider society in the rejection of unlucky but otherwise sound applications: good ideas may slip through the cracks, or be re-worked and dulled-down to sound more likely to provide reliable results. Oli Preston looks at […]

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    Organising logic: Project time versus process time in the accelerated academy.

Organising logic: Project time versus process time in the accelerated academy.

There are two contrasting temporal logics in academia that shape the ways in which research is understood: project time and process time. Oili-Helena Ylijoki explores the differences between the two. On one hand, there is the tightly scheduled, linear, decontextualized, predictable and compressed project time, and on the other, there is the unbounded, multi-directional, context-dependent, emergent and timeless process time. Due to […]

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    It’s time to put our impact data to work to get a better understanding of the value, use and re-use of research.

It’s time to put our impact data to work to get a better understanding of the value, use and re-use of research.

If published articles and research data are subject to open access and sharing mandates, why not also the data on impact-related activity of research outputs? Liz Allen argues that the curation of an open ‘impact genome project’ could go a long way in remedying our limited understanding of impact. Of course there would be lots of variants in the type of impact […]

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    Moving interdisciplinary research forward: Top down organising force needed to help classify diverse practices.

Moving interdisciplinary research forward: Top down organising force needed to help classify diverse practices.

What does “interdisciplinarity” actually mean? Gabriele Bammer argues lumping interdisciplinary work together may be prohibiting an effective evaluation of how this kind of research is faring. A much more intuitive approach is needed to distinguishing between aspects of diverse research practices. Furthermore, developing effective professional organisations is also a key task for moving interdisciplinary research forward.

In a recent special issue of the journal […]

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    The politics of science funding: We need to think about science and knowledge production in a more practical light

The politics of science funding: We need to think about science and knowledge production in a more practical light

Government funding of science has become an increasingly prominent issue in the United States. Examining the current debate and its consequences, Arne L. Kalleberg interviews Gordon Gauchat about his recent article, “The Political Context of Science in the United States: Public Acceptance of Evidence-Based Policy and Science Funding.”

How might your study help us understand the current political debate in […]

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Spending Review brings good news for science.

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 […]

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    Addressing societal challenges: Joined-up research funding could facilitate innovation and engagement.

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 […]

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