Cross Sector Research on Research Institute Launches

A cross-sector, international consortium was announced on September 30, an open and independent initiative providing data, analysis and intelligence on how best to make research systems more strategic, open, diverse, and inclusive. Founded by the Wellcome Trust, the universities of Sheffield and Leiden, and Digital Science, the consortium, to be known as the Research on Research Institute (RoRI), has the following objectives:

  • To support, expand and build capacity for interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research on research (RoR) in the UK and internationally;

  • To connect academic capabilities to the data and analytical resources of Wellcome, Digital Science and RoRI's wider consortium of strategic partners;

  • To co-design, experiment and apply new tools, indicators, funding modes, prioritisation and evaluation frameworks;

  • To critically evaluate RoR methods and support engagement with data and evidence about research systems by decision makers and society;

  • To create an independent space for learning, networking and collaboration between researchers, policymakers, funders & technologists.

The focus will be on the codesign of projects and sharing of data to inform comparative analysis of research systems and cultures, and develop, test and apply novel approaches to decision-making, prioritisation, allocation and evaluation.

The press release announcement of the consortium noted that “RoRI's activities will include partnership projects, a rolling programme of research seminars and webinars, as well as regular reports, working papers and think-pieces. All of its research methodologies and findings will be made openly available. Within RoRI, funders and academic research institutions will also be able to access and use a secure data platform, hosted and managed by Wellcome as a neutral convenor and broker.” 

Most importantly, this is expected to lead to a shared and trusted space where funders and academic institutions may share their data, policies and practices in support of primary research and experimentation. As of the launch date of this institute, this sharing would span eight countries: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the USA – and one pan-African partner, the African Academy of Sciences.

Reaction from those on Twitter following talks from Monday's launch event included the following:

A great point just made at the RoRI launch by Jean-Claude Burgelman “Need to change the reward and incentives system in research: it is the Achilles Heel of openness” #RoRI #RoRILaunch

— Danil Mikhailov (@MikhailovDanil) September 30, 2019


@BurgelmanJean: We are not in favour of open because it’s nice, but because it leads to better science. There is an urgent need for data on the open science lifecycle including incentives and the impact of impact factors and other incentives. #RoRILaunch

— Dr Elizabeth Gadd (@LizzieGadd) September 30, 2019



What do we mean by scientific productivity – and is it really falling? An outline of the talk I've just given at today's launch meeting of the Research on Research Institute#RoRILaunch

— Richard Jones (@RichardALJones) September 30, 2019


We need much better ways of tracking doctoral access, experiences and outcomes. These need to be longitudinal, systematic and rich on decision-making and context, argues @sallyehancock #RoRILaunch

— Paul Wakeling (@pbjwakeling) September 30, 2019

There was one cautionary note emerging from the Twitter feed:

12 of the 14-person team are men.

— Marie Kennedy (@orgmonkey) September 30, 2019

The Research on Research Institute launches with prepared research and visualizations on some of its concerns. There are two interesting working papers:

  • Supporting priority setting in science using research funding landscapes;

  • 21st Century PhDs: Why we need better methods of tracking doctoral access, experiences and outcomes. 

Additionally, the site includes two useful visualization tools -- one showing the landscape of research funding for 2,890 research fields across all sciences and another more targeted tool indicating the health research research funding landscape. The latter shows the contribution of funders to research fields in the life sciences. 

The Institute will be housed initially at the Wellcome Trust in London.  

External coverage of the launch of the Research on Research Initiative may be found at:

Times Higher Education, September 30, 2019

Wonkhe, September 30, 2019