Category: Research funding

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 research […]

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 […]

Time for REFlection: HEFCE look ahead to provide rounded evaluation of the REF.

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 higher […]

Changing UK science culture – a publisher perspective on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Rebecca Lawrence shares her response to the Nuffield Council on Biothetics’ report on the culture of scientific research. The report raised important issues that publishers across the industry are actively working towards. But further collaboration is needed amongst research funders, universities and publishers to tackle the many issues in quality assessment, recognition of negative findings, and adequate peer review. Otherwise we are […]

Developing social impact requires the research agenda to move beyond conventional academic boundaries.

The Dutch Senate recently passed a new Standard Evaluation Protocol (SEP). The SEP highlights the importance of social impact for research. The new Protocol was developed by the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences), VSNU (Association of Dutch universities) and NWO (Dutch Science Council) and is to be used to evaluate academic research from 2015-2021. Based on recent discussions […]

Evaluation systems need not be perfect: University research assessment and the ongoing quest for simplicity.

In order to get a perfect assessment method, are we at risk of developing systems that are ever more complex and time-consuming? Dorothy Bishop looks at the differences between readily available measures to award research funding and the highly complicated RAE formula. An evaluation system need not be perfect – it just needs to be ‘good enough’ to provide a basis […]

Perceptions and ‘impacts’ of the REF: Key aim for next round should be to explore apprehension and minimise anxieties.

Discussions around the REF have tended to be negative, but academics appear to have experienced the framework in a number of different ways. To understand the variety of themes and important issues, Tony Murphy and Daniel Sage undertook a media analysis that points to the range of concerns academics have around the REF and its processes. They argue there is much that […]

Overhyped and concentrated investments in research funding are leading to unsustainable science bubbles.

David Budtz Pedersen examines how the scientific market exhibits bubble behaviour similar to that of financial markets. Taking as an example the overwhelming investments in neuroscience, such high expectations may actually drain the research system from resources and new ideas. In the end the permanent competition for funding and the lack of ‘risk diversification’, might generate a climate in which citizens and policymakers […]

How competitive should science be? External reward structure may inhibit creative thinking and innovation.

Competition for funding and jobs is often cited as a helpful mechanism for spurning innovation and productivity in science. But Jessica Polka challenges this idea by drawing from the results of an experiment known as Duncker’s candle problem. The experiment revealed external rewards can actually inhibit creative thinking. If science is like the version of the candle problem, are we […]