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New partners, new projects and new not-for-profit: University of Sheffield brings together leading funders to set global research priorities | New

The world’s leading research funders and top academics are meeting at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in Bern this week (Monday 20 June 2022) to set priorities for the next decade of global research.

  • The Research Research Institute (RoRI) at the University of Sheffield is set to become a social enterprise, with £6 million in funding to improve the evidence base on which research is funded, managed and evaluated
  • The Institute is hosting a two-day conference where leading funders and scholars from 18 countries will discuss the future of global research and set priorities for research systems on research, cultures and decision making

The world’s leading research funders and top academics are meeting at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in Bern this week (Monday 20 June 2022) to set priorities for the next decade of global research.

The event is organized by the Research Research Institute (RoRI) at the University of Sheffield, which was launched three years ago with the audacious ambition of turning research tools on itself in order to make global research more diverse and inclusive, funding more democratic and results accessible to all.

Now, with the world in Covid-19 recovery mode, the Institute is about to enter its second phase by launching itself as a social enterprise. Around £6 million will be made available to partners to continue the RoRI mission

Social enterprises, or community interest companies incorporated under UK law, will make RoRI more agile in advancing its mission of accelerating transformative and translational research into research systems, cultures and decision-making.

James Wilsdon, Director of RoRI and Professor of Computational Science Research Policy at the University of Sheffield, said: “Our event marks the start of a new chapter of collaboration between the University of Sheffield and our RoRI partners, and is an important milestone in the development of meta-research as a field.

“The last three years of the pandemic have been an unprecedented time for researchers, scientists and academics, who have demonstrated the incredible power that accessible research has to improve lives.

“While there has been an increase in research funding in the UK and elsewhere, the pandemic has also increased scrutiny of the systems that govern research, and the pressures and tensions that exist in cultures of research.”

Since being co-founded by the Wellcome Trust, Digital Science and the Universities of Sheffield and Leiden in the Netherlands in 2019, the Institute has carried out a diverse portfolio of projects and produced:

  • Discussion Papers seeking to address long-standing concerns about flaws and biases in the way research funding is allocated, and how these can be mitigated through changes to the selection and review processes.
  • The Experimental Funders Handbook, to help research funders design experiments with prioritization, allocation and evaluation.
  • The development of FAIRware, an online workshop to support the production of research that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

RoRI is also delighted to welcome an expanded group of core partners, who (subject to final agreements) will lead the work of the institute over the next five years:

Novo Nordisk Foundation; Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF); Volkswagen Foundation; Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); National Research Fund (FNR – Luxembourg National Research Fund); Michael Smith Health Research BC; digital sciences; Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University; Volkswagen Foundation; and the University of Sheffield.

These new partners will help the Institute co-design a new wave of projects to help research funders and other organizations around the world make research more effective and efficient for everyone.

Professor Wilsdon said: “The global research community responded quickly and on a large scale to the emergence of Covid-19, with around 8.6% of all search results in 2021 related to the pandemic. This reflects a spectacular mobilization of capacities in the face of a crisis and raises fundamental questions about the financing and organization of research.

“Over the past two years, the partnerships we’ve built and the progress we’ve made strengthen the case for continued research on research – and the need for collaborative platforms and flexible infrastructure like RoRI. to support and amplify these efforts. Together with its partners, the RoRI wishes to improve these collective intelligence structures and networks in order to ensure greater agility, responsiveness and resilience in the face of future crises and uncertainties.

Marc Schiltz, CEO of the National Research Fund (FNR) and President of Science Europe, said: “Research funders are helping to drive innovation in the global research landscape, and we must strive to ensure that this innovation happens in a transparent, open and thorough way.

“The FNR believes that the activities, processes, and results of research funders should be subject to the same academic rigor used in the research we fund, and we therefore fully support RoRI’s activities in research. on research. The collaboration and creativity expressed in this consortium will help develop the tools and mindset needed to improve the funding, practice, evaluation and communication of research and science in general.

Vice President for Research at the University of Sheffield, Professor Sue Hartley OBE, said: “Many organisations, including the University of Sheffield, RoRI and its partners, recognize that open research is an important part of the commitment to enable and promote research excellence in our communities.

“It is essential that not only universities and research institutes, but also publishers, infrastructure providers, funders and researchers themselves come together to reflect on our own practice and the systems that govern who is able and can access research that has the power to change lives. RoRI is our opportunity to support innovation in global research and improve research cultures, towards real, evidence-based solutions.

Join the event on Monday, June 20, 20202 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. BST, to witness the launch of the next phase of RoRI.


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