New 'research on research' project to guide decision-makers on research and science policy

New 'research on research' project to guide decision-makers on research and science policy

The Research on Research Institute (RoRI) is a newly formed international consortium of research funders, academics, and technologists aiming to enhance the knowledge, understanding, and application of research. RoRI seeks to provide insights on such significant matters as how funding decisions are made, how research can be optimized, and how the benefits of research can reach more people. Through this, the institute will help individuals, organizations, and governments across the globe make better-informed decisions on research and science policy.

Wellcome Trust, University of Sheffield, University of Leiden’s Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), and Digital Science (a science- and research-focused technology company) are the founding partners of RoRI. As a key part of its efforts, the institute aims to bring together funders from across the world. So far, 11 organizations from across the world have expressed their interest in partnering with the institute.

James Wilsdon, Director of RoRI and Digital Science Professor of Research Policy at University of Sheffield, explains the need for an entity like RoRI: “Research on research isn’t new; there is a wealth of excellent work to build on, but it can be poorly joined-up.” RoRI’s goal therefore will be to better coordinate and connect research efforts among various stakeholders.

Toward its vision, RoRI has multiple objectives covering several aspects of research:

  • Research: Build, support, and expand capacity for research on research (RoR) across research systems worldwide
  • Translation: Connect RoR capabilities to resources of internal and external strategic partners
  • Innovation: Produce and test (in collaboration with partners) new tools, indicators, funding modes, and evaluation frameworks
  • Brokerage: Support engagement with RoR data and evidence by decision-makers and society at large
  • Facilitation: Create an independent space for RoR learning, networking, and collaboration among various stakeholders

Presently, two tools are available on the RoRI site bearing an early indication of its goals. Research Funding Landscape and Health Research Funding Landscape show how funds are presently distributed in research areas across the world. The tools allow users a closer look at specific research areas and the respective funders with a view to assessing gaps and opportunities.

Apart from working on such tools, RoRI will also be spearheading programs, facilitating webinars, and authoring working papers, such as these ones on supporting priority settings in science and the need for better methods of tracking PhD outcomes. Founded on the principles of open science, all papers published through RoRI will be freely downloadable.

The foundation of RoRI comes at a crucial juncture where the global research landscape is pressed with challenges such as diminishing funding, growing demands for open access, increasing calls for interdisciplinary research, and a greater thrust toward international collaboration. It will be interesting to see how RoRI helps researchers and organizations alike navigate these demands and opportunities.

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