In a wide-ranging report,The Scientific Century: Securing Our Future Prosperity, the Royal Society makes its case for government investment in scientific research and improving education in the sciences.
Warning of the dangers of any crude assessment of research impact, the report nonetheless regards recent clarifications from HEFCE regarding this element of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as being reassuring. It goes on to warn against the effects of any cuts in funding to academic scientific research, with a reminder how cuts in the mid-1980s led to researchers struggling “to remain at the cutting edge of their disciplines, using old equipment that they could not afford to replace”. Investing in scientific research now, they argue, is vital: “Science and innovation are investments that are essential to short-term recovery and, more importantly, to long-term prosperity and growth.”
Recommendations of the report align strategically with investment in: interdisciplinary research (including a call for a reform of research funding and assessment in relation to this); overseas collaboration; improved skills training (including ‘transferrable skills’) for PhD students in the sciences; and a call to create “strong global challenge research programmes, led by RCUK, to align scientific, commercial and public interests”.
The report can be read in full on the Royal Society website at:http://royalsociety.org/the-scientific-century/