Call for blog posts: The Future of Research Governance

Sunday 2nd August, 2015

Steve Fuller

For better or worse, over the past quarter-century, the UK has been a trailblazer in new approaches to the assessment of higher education. James Wilsdon, Professor of Science and Democracy at Sussex University, is a figure who in recent years has been central to the defence of UK social science and the UK research base more broadly. On 27 July 2015, he published a piece in the Guardian in which he defended the continuation of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which has come under increasing fire on grounds ranging from its cost to its fairness and even its very purpose.

In short compass, Wilsdon manages to cover the waterfront at a crucial juncture, since the 2015 Spending Review is now underway and the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has just commissioned McKinsey to conduct an audit of the “efficiency and effectiveness” of all its funded bodies, including the Research Councils and the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE).

We invite short contributions (under 1000 words) on the themes raised by Wilsdon’s article, which include the following:

  • Is the UK Research Excellence Framework fit for purpose?
  • Is there ‘best practice’ when it comes to research evaluation?
  • How should research evaluation relate to the allocation of research funding?
  • What is the relationship of research and teaching evaluation in higher education?
  • How has the recent stress on ‘impact’ influenced the research evaluation process?
  • To what ends and at what levels should academic research be publicly funded?
  • How should the research community approach the 2015 Spending Review, given stated targets of up to 40% reductions in expenditure in non-protected departments like BIS?
  • The special challenges posed by the social sciences as objects of research evaluation

The contributions may be theoretical, empirical or practical in nature. They will be published as submitted, with the expectation that the series of contributions will be capped off by an omnibus response from Professor Wilsdon at the end of September, in time for the start of the new academic year. The deadline for submission is September 15th

To discuss further or to submit a post, e-mail Mark Carrigan ( and Steve Fuller ( - contribution should be submitted as plain text with hyperlinks marked in square brackets with the associated url e.g. sociological review []

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