REF proposals petition ( Public )
The RAS has been asked to enlist the support of the Society’s members for a campaign spear-headed by the UK University and College Union (UCU) regarding the Research Excellence Framework (REF), in particular the proposal that 25% of research funding assessment will be dependent on its economic and social impact.
The Council of the RAS has stated many times that it is counterproductive to make funding for the best research conditional on its perceived economic and social benefits. This was elaborated most recently in its evidence to the Royal Society’s ‘Fruits of Curiosity’ study viz, "The RAS explicitly acknowledges that it is right for central Government to set a framework of priorities for science investment and that those should respond to public concerns. However, we do not believe that an overly prescriptive top down approach to governance will necessarily be effective in identifying research that will meet immediate economic goals."
'Funding scientific research is not like investing to win Olympic medals, where specific short-term objectives can be set and achieved. In contrast, science advances on a broad front and has indefinite horizons that require a long-term vision. The Society believes that it is better to concentrate on funding excellence and on ensuring that the funding is sufficient to achieve the ambitious scientific goals that should be set. We also draw attention ...to the economic impact of curiosity-driven research, where serendipitous discoveries are made that cannot be foreseen at the outset of these research programmes."
The UCU has asked Officers of the RAS to draw your attention to the on-line petition addressed to the UK Higher Education Funding Councils which calls on them ‘to withdraw the current REF proposals and to work with academics and researchers on creating a funding regime which supports and fosters basic research in our universities and colleges rather than discourages it’.
You can sign the petition here (there is no need to be a UCU member) : http://www.ucu.org.uk/standupforresearch