Lord Drayson Confirms REF Will Reward Public Engagement

Lord Drayson, UK Science Minister, has confirmed that the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the successor to the RAE, will reward scientists for engaging with the public. Responding to the consultation on the REF early last year, via the Biosciences Federation, the BES specifically argued for public engagement, and engagement in policy, to be recognised in the REF.

Speaking at the World Conference for Scientific Journalists, and reported in yesterday’s Times Higher, Lord Drayson stated that the Government “believe(s) that scientists have a duty – particularly when they are funded by taxpayers – to engage in the public arena, to engage in communication of the challenges and the potential ethical concerns about their science, and that will be included in the REF.” He went on to say “if a scientist does a great job in this area, (it is important) that it is recognised in the assessment because at the moment we don’t have any way of showing that this is regarded as an important component of what being a scientist is about”.

Lord Drayson said that the details of how to implement this component of the REF were being worked on by HEFCE and stressed that it would not substitute for research excellence: public engagement would remain voluntary. In highlighting the types of activities that would be eligible, he gave interacting with the media, taking part in debates, and standing up to talk about science as examples. Engagement with policy work was not mentioned, as far as the BES understands.

See original article: Drayson says REF will give points for public outreach, THES, 9 July 2009