AsSIST-UK member James Wilsdon on the need for a What Works Centre for Meta-Research

James Wilsdon makes a strong case for a new type of centre – among the many What Works Centres – that would bring together diverse forms of evaluative expertise and associated data to develop more robust and interdisciplinary assessment of R&D and HEI policies. See more here


UKRI publishes its strategy for R&D

UK Research and Innovation which incorporates all the Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England has just published its broad strategy for R&D. It is available here: UKRI Prospectus . Much of it is about fostering business and economic growth, as would be expected. There are likely to be opportunities for STIS researchers in two of its key areas though: see the sections of economic impact (impact) which includes reference to the rather intriguing notion of ‘promoting innovation backing new general purpose technologies on their route to market’; and also on social and cultural impact  (s&c impact). In regard to the latter, the prospectus notes ‘ We will run an open call for proposals from consortia of higher education institutes, research institutes and external stakeholders to support a small number of high quality research projects that place citizen participation at their heart.’

James Wilsdon, AsSIST-UK member, has just published his insightful commentary on the UKRI plans:

Wilsdon commentary

See also David Walker’s observations on how -if ever – UKRI engages with the Govt Office for Science and Health research at Collaboration?

European Commission Announces Budget for ‘Horizon Europe’

The European Commission has announced increased funding for its new programme, called ‘Horizon Europe’ which runs from 2021-2017. As the current H2020 structure, three platforms for research support will remain – the funding for the ‘Excellent Science stream (the ERC grants – which a number of AsSIST-UK members have secured), the Industrial Leadership stream and a Societal Challenges one. So STS and social science more broadly will have opportunities for new research funding. How this will play out though post-Brexit, when UK funding ends, is unclear.

The Association will track developments and inform members of any key issues that emerge over coming months.

S&T Select Committee publishes critical report today on Brexit, Science and Innovation

The Science and Technology Select Committee has just published its report on the challenges that Brexit poses for S&T and innovation more broadly. Professor Johan Schot represented AsSIST-UK and spoke about the need to develop a new approach to innovation: ‘ Debate should not only be about access to European funding and exchange of people but about how to become an exemplar for societal challenge-led research and innovation. This will bring people and collaboration to the UK. The Brexit strategy should be about how to build a new research culture and institutional framework for addressing the causes of Brexit not just the consequences. The causes of Brexit, among others, are inequality and failing energy, healthcare, mobility and food systems. The need for experimentation with alternatives is vital to transform our systems of provision. The Brexit strategy should focus on making UK a front runner for sustainability transitions. There is a need for more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work to address these central challenges.”


See the S&T full report and its critique of current government plans at:


Continue reading “S&T Select Committee publishes critical report today on Brexit, Science and Innovation”

AsSIST-UK Robin Williams at Innovate UK event on AI

Co-Chair of AsSIST-UK, Robin Williams, was invited by Innovate UK to a national Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, to present how the social sciences and specifically STIS might engage with this area. His presentation – which sought to open up new lines of thinking – was regarded as an immensely valuable contribution to the debate. His slides can be found here: Williams contribution to CIF workshop Continue reading “AsSIST-UK Robin Williams at Innovate UK event on AI”

Editor-in-Chief, Philip Campbell, on a place for the social sciences in Nature

In this week’s Research Fortnight, Sir Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature, continues his long-standing support for social science/STIS work and the contribution it can make. In the interview he makes a call to fellow editors: ‘ There isn’t a huge demand yet for papers that really integrate the perspectives of the social sciences, the humanities and the natural sciences, but it is up to the journals to take the lead and to show what they can do. We are, but I’d love us to do it faster.’

RF Interview Continue reading “Editor-in-Chief, Philip Campbell, on a place for the social sciences in Nature”

S&T Committee Summit: Johan Schot

AsSIST-UK Strategic Advisory Group member, Professor Johan Schot, Director at SPRU, represented the Association at the recent House of Commons ‘Summit’ on ‘Brexit, Science and Innovation. He made some very important interventions about the need to rethink our whole approach to Policy, reflecting the Association’s drive to reshape thinking in Westminster. You can read more here