Valuing Scientists’ Engagement with Policy

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is currently consulting on plans for a Research Excellence Framework (REF), the successor to the RAE which, it is proposed, will take place in 2012. Under the REF proposals, scientific departments will be judged by the number of citations which academics’ papers receive, number of research students and research income, over a five to 10 year period.

In last week’s Times Higher (24 January), John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, called for a greater recognition within the REF of the engagement between scientists and policy makers. Such work could be measured through reports to Government, committee membership and verbal advice. At present, HEFCE’s proposals for the assessment of research in science, engineering, technology and medicine do not extend to the use of the ‘light-touch peer review’ necessary to take account of such contributions.

The BES plan to respond to the HEFCE consultation together with the Biosciences Federation and Institute of Biology.