David Willetts at the London Science Festival

20 Oct

Minister for Universities and Science, RH David Willetts MP, gave the third annual Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture last night, held at the Royal Society of Medicine and organised by the Science Council. Here’s a brief storify of some of the key points.

The Minister, understandably, opened with positive statements, drawing on the encouraging messages from the days report on the International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base (http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/science/science-innovation-analysis/uk-research-base).

Willetts: UK science in great shape. We punch above our weight. #roberts2011
MarkatSocBiol
October 19, 2011
Willetts on UK research: excel by making the most of what we have eg intelligence, international connections + infrastructure #Roberts2011
LouWoodley
October 19, 2011
UK still efficient in terms of research outputs but our internationalism is a key attribute says Willetts at #roberts2011
DianaGarnham
October 19, 2011

He made some interesting points about open access.

Although @Richvn made an important point later…
more citations per $ (BIS report) needn’t mean UK is more efficient. Cld be we focus spend on academic, not industrial science. #Roberts2011
Richvn
October 19, 2011
UK success ‘depends on openness’ David Willetts #roberts2011
RobertMasseyRAS
October 19, 2011
“Research should not be hidden behind a paywall” #roberts2011
RobertMasseyRAS
October 19, 2011

On capital funding, Willetts noted that six of the eight high priority capital funding projects from the Research Councils were to be funded, despite concerns about falling capital funding levels. Diamond Light Source is one of the projects.

MT @kaythaney Maximise impact through transparency and access (no £ walls), says Willetts. #Roberts2011 #LSF11 #scipolicy
LouWoodley
October 19, 2011
Almost half of science research publications from 2006-2010 included a collaborator from outside the UK #Roberts2011
LouWoodley
October 19, 2011
But he did ackowledge (briefly) that all is not perfect.
Willetts says that @DiamondLightSou’s funding is safe. #Roberts2011
Psythor
October 19, 2011
On the subject of the REF, an ongoing bone of contention with researchers, the Minister sought to do some myth-busting.
Not all rosy. We don’t exploit science as well. #roberts2011
MarkatSocBiol
October 19, 2011
Willetts: wants to address fears about impact #roberts2011
RobertMasseyRAS
October 19, 2011
Willetts: “No desire to strangle curiosity-driven research” #roberts2011
RobertMasseyRAS
October 19, 2011
Do not support focus on pockets of excellence alone. Lone researcher still important. #roberts2011
MarkatSocBiol
October 19, 2011
Peer review not perfect. But of course important. REF is all about quality. Not which journal. #roberts2011
MarkatSocBiol
October 19, 2011
More to do to ensure REF and research councils can foster multi disciplinarity #roberts2011
DianaGarnham
October 19, 2011
Is impact assessment a way around the narrowness and restrictions arising from publications hierarchy? #roberts2011
DianaGarnham
October 19, 2011
“Important that impact assessment panels ensure cross-disciplinary research doesn’t slip thru the cracks – need breadth” #Roberts2011
LouWoodley
October 19, 2011

He also announced a new technicians register. @OliOHanlon got his wish, if a litle later than hoped.

#roberts2011 waiting for Willetts to mention technicians
OliOHanlon
October 19, 2011
RSciTech – Registered Science Technician. #Roberts2011
franknorman
October 19, 2011
RSciTech launched by Science Minister tonight. Time to recognise and applaud the key role technicians play #roberts2011
DianaGarnham
October 19, 2011

The Minister pointed out that those who leave the ‘academic pipeline’ are not necessarily lost to science, but did acknowledge a problem and referred to the recent Science is Vital report (http://scienceisvital.org.uk/2011/10/06/careering-out-of-control-a-crisis-in-the-uk-science-profession/).

#roberts2011 am waiting from Willetts to mention #scicareers report from @ScienceIsVital
ShaneMcC
October 19, 2011
Should a long term research career be the expectation of science undergrads? Willetts now discussing science career pyramid #Roberts2011
LouWoodley
October 19, 2011
Willetts asks whether we need to tweak the shape of the research careers pyramid #Roberts2011
franknorman
October 19, 2011
#roberts2011 those leaving academia might not be lost to science but are they fulfilling their ambitions? Is the lack of opportunity a prob?
ShaneMcC
October 19, 2011

And he didn’t get it all his own way with the last question either, as Imran Khan from the Campaign for Science and Engineering pinned him down with a question about long-term capital investment.

Interesting time at #roberts2011 lecture. Willetts paints rosy view of future for uk research. Apparently not shared by @sciencecampaign
Clmharvey
October 19, 2011
If you want more…
Thx to Science Council for the David Willetts evnt at the Royal Society of Medicine last night… follow #ROBERTS2011 to catch up on tweets!
LondonSciFest
October 20, 2011
We’ll have a full podcast available of the Willetts #Roberts2011 lecture available in the next few days. Assuming no tech problems.
poddelusion
October 19, 2011

Update: Here’s the Pod delusion link – http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2011/10/20/david-willetts-on-science-policy-the-roberts-lecture-2011/

And a write-up at Nature blogs – http://blogs.nature.com/london/2011/10/20/london-science-festival-roberts-science-policy-lecture-with-david-willetts-mp

Update 2: And now the full text of the lecture – http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/speeches/david-willetts-gareth-roberts-science-policy-lecture-2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: