RSC response to EPSRC decision to drop national importance time frame requirement

29 November 2012

An article published in today's Times Higher Education magazine says that the new Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Dr Paul Golby, has taken the decision to drop the requirement for grant applicants to identify the national importance of their proposal over a 10- to 50-year time frame.

The article also says that Dr Golby has said that the EPSRC had fallen short on the extent to which it consulted researchers on its shaping capabilities agenda before taking key decisions, and that he has announced independent reviews of the methods by which it obtains strategic advice and of its peer-review processes.

In response to the article, RSC Executive Director of Science and Education Professor Jim Iley said today: "The RSC thinks it is sensible to drop the timescale aspect from the EPSRC criterion, given the difficulty and complexity of predicting when any applicable outcome will result from research that is being undertaken.
"The aspect about the national importance of research remains, which is understandable. Those seeking publicly-funded research should expect to justify why that research is of national significance. That principle is sound. The problem lay in assigning a timescale to the research.
"The RSC welcomes the review of how the EPSRC achieves its strategic advice.  The review needs to address the process by which engagement with the wider scientific communities is undertaken such that the strategic advice garnered is a comprehensive, accurate picture, gained through a thorough feedback procedure. The RSC is happy to play a part in this."

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Link icon EPSRC grant: now no crystal ball required
Article in today's Times Higher Education magazine

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