Tuesday, 26 August 2008

A Scientific Balance

An article in the THES addresses the challenge faced by scientists in trying to balance accurate reporting with a commitment to drive governments to action.

Mark Maslin, director of the Environment Institute at University College London is quoted as saying, 'researchers are "walking a tightrope between doing excellent science, which is clearly defensible and has the support of peers, and communicating with the public. If you go too far towards communication (or stray out of your true specialist areas), you lose the credibility that makes you worth listening to in the first place."'.

Read the THES article in full

Increased Competition For Grants

THES reports that research councils are showing large increases in the numbers of applications for grants, while the amount of awards available increases in much smaller amounts. Over the six research councils a 13% rise in the number of applications in the year 2007-08 can be seen. The chance of converting an application into a grant through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council dropped from 30% to 29%.

The Medical Research Council was the exception, where the success rate rose from 24% in 2006-07 to 27% in 2007-08.

Read the THES article in full

ERC Starting Grants

The European Research Council was set up as part of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research. It has two main funding streams, aimed at invigorating the European landscape by funding the best blue-skies research in any EU member state.

This year's call for starting grants is initially worth EUR296 million but expected to increase in value. Research in all academic fields is eligible and the council again intends to award about 300 grants of up to EUR2 million each over five years.

Read the THES article in full

Visit the ERC website to find out more

RCUK Statement of Expectation

Research Councils UK (RCUK) have published two new documents, one which outlines RCUK's Mission for Social and Economic Impact and an accompanying Statement of Expertise. It covers the activities and disciplines of all seven Research Councils.

'Speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, Professor Philip Esler said "Our commitment to excellent research that extends the boundaries of human knowledge remains as strong as ever. These documents signal a progression in the Research Councils' policy on knowledge transfer, begun in 2006 with the publication of the Warry Report, which recognises that publicly funded research should benefit us culturally, socially and financially. The publication of our Mission and Statement of Expectation represents a significant milestone that will be reflected in the Research Councils' peer review processes and in their grant terms and conditions."'

Read the documentation on the RCUK website

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Public Power

In a novel case, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has made decisions on which areas of nanotechnology to fund based in part, on public opinion. A consultancy firm hired by EPSRC, through a series of public workshops found public opinion supported proposals which focused on devices to detect diseases in their early stages and to improve targeted drug delivery to hard-to-reach tissue. A thumbs down was given for so-called theranostics, the insertion of small devices into patients to read chemical levels and provide automatic adjustments as required.

Read the THES article in full

China increases output

A DIUS published report shows that China is on the verge of 'overtaking Britain in the world table of the most prolific nations for academic research' reports THES. The report also shows that currently, Britain produces the largest number of research papers after the US. Where as the gap in publication rate is very slight, a difference of only 110 papers between Britain and China, Britain was ranked as the top country for value for money (producing more papers and citations than any other per unit of investment in R&D). China and the US are ranked 17th and 16th respectively.

Read the THES article in full

Read the DIUS report in full