The science and innovation strategy and the REF

22 December 2014

With the publication of the government’s science and innovation strategy, Our plan for growth: science and innovation, on 17 December and the publication of the Research Excellence Framework on 18 December, the Institute of Physics offers comment.

Dr Frances Saunders, president of the IOP, said: “It’s reassuring to again see the government placing science and engineering at the heart of its plans for economic growth and offering financial investment in science capital over the next six years.  

“This investment will help the UK to continue strengthening its knowledge-based economy. We now await further detail due in next year’s spending review about resource allocation.

“We would, however, also like to see a greater ongoing commitment from the government to harness the strength of our entire scientific community via more thorough consultation on decisions like these in order to ensure our science has the greatest possible impact.”

The publication by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) of the results in the Research Excellence Framework has given a picture of the strength of UK physics.

Dr Saunders commented: “88% of the assessed physics research has been ranked either “internationally excellent” or “world-leading”. It’s exciting to note how the quality of the research has been seen to improve since the RAE in 2008 as well as how international much of our research has become, with much of the evidence of excellence stemming from citations that demonstrate global collaboration.

“We can see from the impact ratings that much of the research assessed was highly commended for its range of applications. Physics is much more than fundamental research, impacting our lives in often profoundly significant ways.

“It is also heartening to note that physics research is being undertaken in supportive environments, with physics departments being seen to, for example, work to develop the next generation of research leaders.

“We will be gathering more information over the coming months about the research submitted for assessment so that we can share greater detail of the wide range of excellent physics research that takes place in the UK.”



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