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British Research System

Clarisse Faria-Fortecoëf

The United Kingdom second worldwide ranked behind the USA in terms of scientific excellence facing the evolution of its financing and evaluation system of public research.

Since 1997, the British government has had for objective of making the UK one of the best countries in the world in the fields of Science, Research and Innovation.

Among the actions taken, there is the ongoing reform of the system of funding public research, the Dual Support System which includes : the funding by the Higher Education Funding Councils (HEFC, one for each of the 4 British regions: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) based on an evaluation conducted at the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) ; the funding based on research grants awarded by the seven Research Councils to the research teams after a peer review of projects.

This innovative reform creates a lot of criticism from academics and research councils whom are calling for a delay of one year to the introduction of the system which will replace the RAE in 2010, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) - based mainly on bibliometric indicators, as the rate of citations and the impact factor -, as well as the peer review keeping.