Select Committee on Science and Technology Thirteenth Report


4 Scientific and Technological Expertise in DFID

Context of science and research in DFID

44. DFID engages with science, technology and research in three main ways. Firstly, it commissions research through both the Central Research Department and Country Offices. Secondly, DFID needs to access science and technology advice in order to inform its own policy making. The Policy Division leads on this task although the Information Division also plays an important role in helping DFID staff to draw on the global pool of knowledge to inform decision making. Thirdly, DFID's Country Offices provide support to developing countries to assist them in identifying and meeting their own science and technology requirements.

45. In evidence to this inquiry, DFID gave us the following interpretation of the concept of research:

"There is no standard Whitehall definition of research and policy advice, so Departments can define these concepts differently. Research is an investigation undertaken to discover new facts, or get additional information over a longer-term period. The key characteristics for DFID are (i) it generates information that is publicly available, and aimed at whoever can most relevantly use it in the task of reducing poverty, (ii) it is long-term in nature (generally three years or more) […] Policy advice is the giving of informed opinion about what to do, based on policy analysis. For DFID, the key characteristics that distinguish policy analysis from research are (i) DFID is the client that benefits from the analysis, and (ii) it is shorter term (in the region of three months). Policy analysis generally is based on existing research, rather than generating new knowledge."[66]

We have reservations about this interpretation of policy and research. Policy should be formed on the basis of evidence; commissioning of new research to provide this evidence will frequently be required and may take considerably longer than three months.

46. DFID considers itself to be different from other Government departments because of its focus on developing countries and the fact that it "funds research as part of the collective international effort focused on removing constraints and creating opportunities to reduce poverty".[67] DFID told us that its "expenditure on research in 2001-02 was £147 million, of which £78 million came from centrally funded research programmes".[68] The sectoral division of this expenditure is indicated in Table 1. DFID's funding is also heavily decentralised, with £69 million being spent on research by the Country Offices. Table 1: Sectoral Breakdown of DFID Centrally-Funded Research Programmes (2001—02)
Sector £ million
Economic policy9
Education2
Infrastructure and Urban 14
Environment 1
Rural Livelihoods36
Health and Population 16

Source: DFID

47. The Policy Division in DFID undertakes policy analysis, as well as commissioning analysis from consultants and "resource centres". Resource centres are organisations that provide advice on demand to DFID professional staff under three to five year call down contracts. The format of resource centres varies greatly: there is, for example, one major centre for health services, but several smaller arrangements for engineering and geosciences. Resource centres probably represent the main mechanism through which DFID obtains scientific and technical advice from UK organisations. DFID also told us that its staff routinely seek advice from multilateral organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.[69]

48. Prior to April 2003, the Policy Directorate comprised two Divisions and 12 Departments covering a number of topics, including economics, international trade, rural livelihoods (mainly agriculture), education, health, infrastructure and social development. Nine Chief Advisers were drawn from the 14 heads of division or departments.[70] At that time, Chief Advisers played a key role in DFID, in part due to their membership of the important "Development Committee", which provided a vital link to the rest of DFID.[71] Chief Advisers were also leaders of DFID's expert skills base (effectively heads of profession), and provided specialist advice not only to Ministers and Senior Managers but also to the wider community. The Policy Division has been extensively reorganised between April 2003 and May 2004 and the consequences of this reorganisation are considered in paragraphs 64—67.

49. In November 2002 DFID published a research policy paper, Research for Poverty Reduction, often referred to as the "Surr Report" after its principal author.[72] Various reviews of DFID's research support had been undertaken previously and the Surr Report was commissioned as a direct result of a report prepared by DFID's Internal Audit Department, entitled Knowledge and Research Programmes. The Surr Report observed that there had been considerable changes in DFID's approach to research over recent years. For example, DFID had moved to a much stronger focus on poverty reduction and on outcomes (as opposed to outputs).[73] DFID had also adopted a greater emphasis on commissioned, rather than responsive mode, research.[74] In addition, the Surr Report commented on the dramatic reduction of in-house management of research, to the extent that "nearly all of the research" that DFID funded was managed and undertaken externally.[75] Following the Surr Report, DFID has increased its emphasis on research and has made a number of alterations to the internal arrangements for handling research, including the establishment of a Central Research Department. During the course of this inquiry, and in fulfilment of a recommendation of the Surr Report, DFID published a new draft Research Strategy.[76] The implications of these changes are covered in some detail below but clearly at this early stage it is difficult to predict the likely impact of the most recent changes on DFID's performance.

In-house expertise

50. The Surr Report commented that the pronounced trend towards outsourcing of research management in DFID had led, amongst other things, to concerns over the "de-skilling of staff within DFID", and a reduction of "DFID's capacity to act as an intelligent customer (and partner)".[77] The Royal Society was one of many organisations who told us of its alarm "over the level of in-house experts available within DFID to assimilate, disseminate and co-ordinate scientific research".[78] Dr Cotton, Director of WELL, also remarked that DFID probably had "an internal capacity issue" that prevented "the potential contribution of technological improvements" from feeding "through into programmes and strategies in a structured way".[79]

51. We heard considerable criticism of the low numbers of DFID staff with a background in, and understanding of, research. Dr Adrian Newton from Bournemouth School of Conservation Sciences told us that DFID needed to "reiterate its commitment to research, and strive to increase understanding among its own staff about the value of research" and "should also seek to appoint staff with professional research experience to increase the capacity of the organisation to both understand what research can offer, and to apply the results that it generates".[80] Moreover, Dr Newton felt the need to clarify, for the benefit of DFID, the fact that "research is not a commodity that we can choose to have or not; it is a process of solving problems. In fact it is the only tool that we have that actually generates knowledge. The only alternative method for solving a problem is trial and error".[81] Professor Bradley from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also stated that "the idea that DFID can simply 'buy in' research as needed is naïve and fails to understand the nature of the linkage between research, expertise, and sound advice".[82] When questioned on the issue of outsourcing, Mr Spray, Head, DFID's Central Research Department, conceded that benchmarking exercises against other Government departments indicated that DFID did "need more in-house staff, not in order to substitute for the external but precisely to engage better with them".[83] As a result, Mr Spray told us that the Central Research Department was expanding from approximately seven to 17 over the next 18 months.[84]

52. We encountered a widespread perception that the levels of expertise in natural science had fallen within DFID, in contrast to the growing numbers of social scientists. Dr Steven Belmain from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) said that "Most staff at DFID have been trained in the social sciences, and it is widely felt that their knowledge of the natural sciences and technology is lacking", whilst Professor Rothschild, Chair of the Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) Independent Programme Advisory Committees, told us that "the number of technical people has been greatly reduced".[85],[86] The Geological Society of London also asserted that "DFID's loss of interest in geoscience" was in part due to "DFID policy being largely driven by social scientists, environmentalists and economists with little sympathy for scientific research, however applied and practical it might be".[87] Mr Spray, Head of the Central Research Department in DFID, confirmed that DFID had "increased the number of social scientists faster than the number of natural scientists recently" but insisted that "the absolute number of professionally qualified staff has been going up".[88],[89] DFID was nonetheless unable to provide us with any data on the current or historical numbers of natural scientists in its employment. This is in part due to the fact that DFID categorises its advisory staff using terms such as Health and Population, Social Development, Rural Livelihoods etc, rather than by their professional qualification or discipline (see Table 2). Furthermore, DFID does not monitor whether its staff, irrespective of their professional discipline, have a background in research.

53. It should be noted that criticism of DFID's scientific expertise was focussed on the proportion of staff with backgrounds in science and research rather than the quality of those staff. Indeed, Dr Cotton, Director of WELL, whilst critical of the low numbers of engineering advisers in DFID, said of the engineering advisers that he had encountered: "I believe them to be highly competent and very good […] they have a very good understanding of development".[90]Table 2: Advisory Staff in DFID
Discipline Total numberNumber based

overseas

Health & Population 6647
Social Development 5832
Rural Livelihoods 6241
Environment 238
Infrastructure & Urban 4631
Economics 8336
Enterprise 2716
Education 4128
Governance 4527
Statistics 239

Source: DFID

54. It is hard to understand how DFID can be content that it has adequate expertise in science and research when it is not monitoring the numbers of staff who have relevant qualifications or a background in research. This must change. We believe that the current levels of scientific and technical expertise are insufficient to ensure that DFID can behave as an intelligent customer for science, technology and research. There is a pressing need for DFID to increase the number of in-house staff with a research background, particularly in the natural sciences.

55. We asked DFID how it decides what advice should be provided in-house and what should be sought externally. DFID told us that "technical issues that need a high level technical decision, for example in health, will be taken by DFID's relevant Head of Profession", whilst if "the issue were a key policy issue, it would be given to the relevant Policy Division team, or if no team exists, a new Policy team may be established to take the agenda forward".[91] DFID also said that "an external technical specialist may be contracted" for provision of more detailed support, in which case "the relevant DFID adviser, either in country offices or in HQ locations would usually be the person to take this decision. He or she would refer to the Head of Profession, where necessary, to identify the appropriate external agency or institution to approach".[92]

56. We heard that DFID was failing to utilise a number of obvious sources of scientific advice. The Royal Society said that "Although IGBP [International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme] research aims to underpin and influence international policies and decisions, the IGBP National Committee is not aware of any advice being sought by DFID", while the Intra-governmental Group on Geographic Information told us: "The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Ordnance Survey of Great Britain is the Adviser to Government on matters relating to GI [Geographic Information]. Requests for advice from DFID are always welcome but are received extremely rarely averaging less than one request per year. It is understood that low use is made of similar advisers in NERC [the Natural Environment Research Council]".[93],[94] The Natural History Museum also reported that it was "not currently being actively used by DFID as a source of scientific or other advice".[95] We conclude that DFID is failing to utilise key sources of scientific and technological knowledge. DFID needs to have a critical mass of in-house expertise to identify its own needs for science, technology and research and the most appropriate sources of such advice. DFID's increasing dependence on outsourcing of research management and the erosion of the cadre of scientific and technical staff mean that it is no longer in a good position to do so.

57. In addition to increasing the numbers of permanent scientific and technically-qualified staff, Defra's Central Science Laboratory told us that its experience with other Government departments suggested that "DFID could access more scientific advice by seconding scientists for short periods into DFID for specific tasks".[96] Macaulay Research Consultancy Services Ltd also commented that "secondment of scientists to DFID would help scientists appreciate the needs of [those who formulate policy] and thus, in the longer term, lead to more relevant research and more effective communication of research findings".[97] DFID would derive much benefit from the secondment of scientists into the Department and we recommend that it takes active steps to implement this practice, particularly in existing areas of weakness.

Chief Scientific Adviser

58. Numerous memoranda submitted to us in evidence made reference to the detrimental effect of the lack of a Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) in DFID on its treatment of science and technology. The Government's science and innovation strategy, Investing in Innovation, published in 2002, stated that all departments that use or commission significant amounts of research should have a Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA).[98] In fact, DFID has the third highest expenditure on R&D of all Government departments and various departments with lower R&D expenditures have already appointed CSAs.[99] In April 2004, Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, confirmed that he believed "that DFID should have, as many other Government departments now do have, its own Chief Scientific Adviser" and remarked that it was "unfortunate" that DFID had not yet appointed a CSA.[100],[101] The Secretary of State announced at the end of March 2004 that DFID would "appoint two experienced scientists - one recommended by the Government's Chief Scientist - to conduct a review of scientific advice in DFID and the case for appointing a Chief Scientist".[102]

59. In the final evidence session of this inquiry, the Secretary of State told us that, as a result of the review, DFID had decided to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser. Mr Benn also told us: "I would like to take the opportunity today to announce the fact that we intend to do so because I think the Committee deserves a lot of credit, alongside others, for the fact that I have now taken this decision".[103] When questioned on why it had taken so long for DFID to reach this decision, the Secretary of State said "I think the honest answer is because we thought we had ways of dealing with science that meant that we could do without the post and we have come to the conclusion that actually that is not the case".[104] We welcome the announcement that DFID has finally decided to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser and are pleased that our work helped DFID to reach its decision. However, the review to establish a need for a Chief Scientific Adviser in DFID was superfluous in view of the stated Government policy. It also came far too late in the day. The fact that it took so long for DFID to accept the need for a Chief Scientific Adviser was in itself indicative of a weak scientific culture in DFID.

60. It is regrettable that DFID only decided to appoint a CSA after developing the new Research Strategy and restructuring the Policy Division for the second time in just over a year. Both of these processes would have benefited from input from a DFID CSA. When we put this point to the Secretary of State, he admitted to us that "with hindsight, maybe the timing has not been ideal".[105] The timing of DFID's decision to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser illustrates a lack of strategic thinking and suggests that DFID has been operating in reactive mode during the course of this inquiry. Defensive action to stave off criticism is not a good foundation for policy making.

61. We understand that DFID will liaise with Sir David King on the job description and appointment of the CSA. Sir David told us that the role of a DFID CSA should be to "develop a coherent policy for international development based on an understanding of what science, engineering and technology could bring to that policy; and to develop a research policy to back it up".[106] As well as ensuring that DFID policy is based on good science, we believe that a DFID CSA would act as a high level representative for science and technology for international development across Government, thereby enabling DFID to engage better with the cross-Government science and technology machinery. Sir David also said that "within DFID there are a large number of social scientists, and especially economists currently […] What we need to balance this number of people in those sciences is a very senior person at the highest level, who would be drawn from what we would describe as the hard sciences".[107] DFID already has a Chief Economist and Chief Statistician. The DFID Chief Scientific Adviser should be a natural scientist with extensive development expertise.

62. The Biosciences Federation is typical of the scientific community in the UK in welcoming DFID's decision to appoint a CSA: "We are delighted that a Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) is to be appointed at DFID. A CSA, supported by a dedicated scientific team, will help to ensure that good science is used in policy making and that the presentation of science is not biased to suit policy objectives. A CSA will also help to promote transparency and develop public confidence in the scientific base on which DFID policy is formed".[108] We agree and will follow the appointment with great interest. However, in order for a DFID Chief Scientific Adviser to be effective, the position should be full time and a team of scientifically-literate support staff will be essential. If the Chief Scientific Adviser is not granted the necessary resources, or is not given a central role with seniority commensurate with the highest ranking Chief Scientific Advisers in other Departments, DFID's decision to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser will amount to little more than tokenism.

63. We welcome DFID's decision to appoint a Policy Advisory Group to advise the Director General, Policy and International, on key policy issues and to provide a challenge function to the work of the Department. The Group will include two prominent international academics, an eminent scientist, representatives of the World Bank, British Overseas Aid Group and an international research funder, as well as at least three African/Asian users of the outputs of policy work from DFID. We are also pleased that the Government's CSA has agreed to be the science representative on the Group.

Policy Division

64. DFID has undergone successive restructuring exercises in its Policy Division, with the first taking effect in April 2003 and the most recent in May 2004. The first reorganisation involved replacing the 12 advisory departments with five policy groups: Aid Effectiveness; Growth; Service Delivery; Working in Difficult Environments and Future Challenges. In addition, several central teams were established, including Research, the Communications Unit, and the Office of Chief Advisers, which was charged with providing specialist support to the Policy Division. An independent evaluation of the process of this reorganisation, commissioned by DFID itself, concluded that there had been some significant achievements, such as improved cross-disciplinary working. [109] We support DFID's decision to adopt a cross-disciplinary approach within the Policy Division to address specific problems in developing countries. However, a significant proportion of DFID's partners, including many developing country governments, operate on a sectoral basis. DFID therefore needs to ensure that its partners have information about, and access to, the relevant contact points within the cross-disciplinary teams.

65. The evaluation report also recorded a "significant and very widely held concern across DFID, about failures in the reorganisation process used to achieve the changes, and a number of issues and wider impacts across DFID that remain to be fully resolved".[110] The report indicated a disconcertingly high level of anger and frustration amongst DFID employees over the way in which the reorganisation was carried out. Furthermore the report warned of the "dangers with any reorganisation that wisdom and experience is lost", noting that "Efforts need to be put into collating knowledge about particular topics and issues, but also about processes. Some form of stock-taking of what has already been learned about working in partnership could provide an extremely useful basis for future work".[111] We are alarmed by the picture presented by the evaluation report of the Policy Division reorganisation and the evident weaknesses in DFID's attempts at change management.[112] In view of the pace of change within the department, we sincerely hope that DFID has learned the lessons of this traumatic reorganisation.

66. Following the 2003 reorganisation, a further change to the management arrangements in the Policy Division was made, coming into effect in May 2004. As a result of this restructuring exercise, the content of the Policy Groups was adjusted to enable all core policy areas to be covered, resulting in groups for Development Effectiveness, Governance and Social Development, Growth and Investment, Human Development and Sustainable Development. More importantly, the Chief Adviser and Deputy Director positions were abolished and instead Heads of Policy Groups were appointed, supported by Heads of Profession. The posts of Chief Economist and Chief Statistician were retained, but DFID told us emphatically that the abolition of the other Chief Adviser positions did not represent a downgrading of these posts. In fact, comparison of the pay bands for the new Heads of Group and Heads of Profession posts with the former Chief Adviser posts demonstrates that a downgrading of the Chief Adviser positions has indeed occurred.[113] It also appears that their remits have been significantly altered, so that they concentrate more on maintaining standards in their professional group than on provision of technical advice. Chief Advisers were previously considered to be the main sources of scientific and technical expertise in DFID and we heard that the position was also valued for the fact that Chief Advisers tended to stay in post for longer than most civil servants, thereby reinforcing the corporate memory. The downgrading of the Chief Adviser positions has caused consternation in the development sciences community. We do not understand the rationale for this decision and take it as further evidence of DFID's urgent need for a Chief Scientific Adviser. We consider that it was ill-advised for DFID to undertake this additional reorganisation of the Policy Division prior to the completion of the review to determine whether to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser and consideration of what staff would be required to support him or her.

67. The May 2004 reorganisation of the Policy Division additionally resulted in the transfer of the Central Research Department from the Policy Division to the Corporate Performance and Knowledge Sharing Division, as well as splitting the staff between London and East Kilbride. By way of explanation for the former, DFID told us that "the Director-General for Knowledge Sharing and Corporate Performance has freed up additional time to give research the high-level attention that Ministers and the Management Board feel it deserves".[114] We can only surmise that research has not received the attention it merits in DFID in the past. We hope that this new arrangement will indeed be an improvement. DFID will also need to take care that separation of the Policy Division and Central Research Department does not impede the interaction between research and policy-making in DFID.

Country Offices

68. In 2001-02, DFID Country Offices spent £69 million on research. However, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told us that "Many country level DFID staff have no training in research" and that an "induction programme and/or continuing professional development programmes delivered through distance learning […] could sensitize staff to the contribution that research can make to development and […] assist them to critically appraise research evidence and promote its use where appropriate".[115] CAB International was also concerned that the "extent of investment in research and the promotion of innovation in DFID's country level programmes has tended to vary, seemingly dependent on the diverse and evolving priorities and perceptions of the advisers and programmes concerned, rather than any overall vision".[116] CAB International believed this was likely to be due to "the changing composition of advisers over the years, the short-term nature of their placements and the reduction of in-house scientific capability within DFID".[117]

69. DFID Country Offices play a key role in assisting developing countries to draft their poverty reduction strategies. But several memoranda express doubts over the ability of the Country Offices to provide adequate advice in the areas of science and technology. Professor Julian Evans commented that "With a very few exceptions, the DFID in-country offices are not staffed or charged with giving special attention to […] weak national research capabilities. Nor do they seem to have a role in suggesting redirection of rather academic national research programmes towards solution of the urgent problems faced by the poor".[118] In addition, RCUK suggested that "DFID could more effectively and profoundly embed a consideration of research needs into its operational systems and procedures. For example, by ensuring that its Country Strategies routinely consider what gaps there are in research if poverty objectives are to be met".[119] CAB International also told us that lack of interest of Country Offices in bringing in external technical innovation and research processes meant that there would "be no outlet for work in this area even where strong local demand exists in the country itself" and commented that "CABI's contracted advisory service to DFID has similarly experienced little direct demand from advisers for technical support even though demand exists within the national system".[120]

70. During this inquiry, we gained first hand experience of DFID's overseas aid projects, notably in Malawi, and we were thoroughly impressed by their dedication and professionalism and the esteem in which their efforts were held. We asked DFID, however, about the numbers of technically or scientifically qualified staff in Country Offices. As mentioned above, we were disappointed to learn that DFID does not hold any central records of the qualifications of its Country Office staff. DFID told us that it was "working towards a system that will capture these from next year".[121] We are pleased that DFID now realises the importance of monitoring the scientific and technical qualifications of its Country Office staff. It is not before time: these staff play a central role in the Poverty Reduction Strategy process and the commissioning of country-specific research and policy analysis. It is a major failing that DFID has not put in place proper systems to ensure that Country Offices are staffed by people with the necessary background and expertise to support developing countries effectively, particularly in the light of the move towards the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper approach. We recommend that DFID establish minimum levels for the numbers of staff with appropriate scientific and technical qualifications in each country or, where appropriate, region.

Knowledge management

71. The capacity of Country Offices to provide advice and support to developing countries on issues concerning science and technology is further undermined by the lack of connection between DFID's Country Offices and Central Research Department. Dr Steven Belmain from NRI was one of many witnesses who drew attention to the weakness of this linkage: "I believe that DFID is aware that their country-based programme offices have not always made good use of the DFID centrally funded research programmes. In my own overseas experience, I have often found it difficult to schedule meetings with country-based DFID staff, to encourage their attendance at stakeholder workshops generated by research projects and to generally inform them of active research endeavours in country and how this research could feed into DFID's bilateral efforts at the country level".[122] The fact that the primary aim of DFID's centrally-funded research is to contribute to the global pool of knowledge rather than to underpin DFID policy is an aggravating factor here. We appreciate that DFID considers the research that it commissions to be for the global good, but it should be axiomatic that such research will also be utilised for the development and refinement of DFID's own policies.

72. The National Audit Office report on DFID's funding for HIV/AIDS also identified various weaknesses in DFID's approach to knowledge acquisition and sharing.[123] For example, "In framing their programmes country teams recognised the importance of learning lessons from elsewhere but they felt they lacked support in identifying relevant information amongst the large amount of technical data available".[124] In addition, the report highlighted the fact that "research results [from DFID Knowledge Programmes] could have been better disseminated, in particular to those DFID staff working in-country. No regular communication channels exist and some Programmes have experienced problems in engaging with DFID teams".[125] The report recommended that DFID take steps "to ensure that its programmes adequately reflect current knowledge", for example by ensuring "that mechanisms are in place to identify and disseminate key research and knowledge in the field to country teams".[126] The report also recommended "better use of DFID's intranet to summarise emerging research, links to sources of key information and lessons learnt on the management of HIV/AIDS interventions".[127]

73. DFID sponsors "id21", a website hosted by the Institute of Development Studies for the communication in lay terms of UK-resourced international development research results in the areas of Society and Economy, Health, Education and Urban Poverty. Nevertheless, we were told by several witnesses that DFID needed to improve its data archive management. Dr Newton, for example, observed that "There is no central repository of information generated by DFID research and it is even difficult to ascertain which areas of research have been supported in the past",[128] whilst the Oxford Forestry Institute stated that "DFID should add value to its huge investment in research to date by supporting the maintenance and access to data archive management systems".[129] DFID told us that it "has increased its investment in the communication of research" with the specific aim of "increasing access to the global knowledge pool by the end users of research".[130] In addition, DFID told us that it had "established an Information and Communication for Development (ICD) Policy Team in its Information Division that analyses best practice in communication" and was "developing a research portal that will adopt international data-sharing standards and enable DFID-funded research to be widely accessible".[131]

74. DFID needs to provide greater technical support to its Country Offices. There is an increasing volume of research, and thus knowledge, pertaining to international development. DFID needs to play an active role in managing this knowledge to enable its employees, including country-based staff, to assimilate information of relevance to their work. Increased access to information does not, however, equate with increased understanding; DFID needs to help staff to mine the available data and extract and interpret the information of relevance to them. We understand that DFID funds research to contribute to the global pool of knowledge rather than to meet the needs of the department, but DFID and its clients are not getting the most out of the research it commissions due to the poor links between the Central Research Department and the Country Offices. We recommend that the Central Research Department work more closely with the Heads of Profession and regional departments to ensure that Country Offices receive the information they require, in a readily digestible form. We also note that many other donors are facing similar challenges and DFID should liaise with its counterparts in other countries to minimise unnecessary duplication of effort.

75. We welcome DFID's increased interest and investment in research and the decision to increase the accessibility of its research findings. DFID should make sure that data and reports from research it has commissioned over the past five, and preferably ten, years can be readily accessed via its new portal. It is understood that some researchers are unwilling to have the final reports of their DFID funded research placed on the internet as this may prevent the authors from publishing this work in commercially-funded peer review journals. It is clearly important for DFID to make public its position on this issue. Our report on scientific publications commended the fact that the Medical Research Council stated that "it expects all MRC-funded researchers 'to make their research data available in a timely and responsible manner to the scientific community for subsequent research with as few restrictions as possible'".[132] We recommend that DFID stipulates in its research contracts that researchers must make their research results, including any large data sets collected, publicly available within a reasonable period following completion of the work.

76. We also stated in our Report on scientific publications that "The digitisation of journals has the potential to greatly increase access to research findings for researchers in the developing world".[133] We further commented that we believed that the author-pays (open access) model of scientific publishing would benefit developing country researchers: "The author-pays publishing model would be extremely advantageous to researchers in developing countries, enabling them to keep abreast of research conducted elsewhere. Financially, author charges would be less burdensome to researchers in the developing world than current subscription rates".[134] We are aware that DFID currently provides funds to support schemes such as the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications. Should the author-pays model become a more prevalent mode of publishing, DFID may need to consider adapting or extending such support to assist developing country researchers in meeting the costs of publication of articles. The importance of access to scientific journals is discussed further in paragraph 133.


66   Ev 310 Back

67   Ev 94 Back

68   Ev 95 Back

69   Ev 310 Back

70   Ian McKendry et al., Chief Advisors: organising around PSA objectives, April 2002 Back

71   Ibid Back

72   Martin Surr et al., Research for Poverty Reduction: DFID Research Policy Paper, November 2002 Back

73   Ibid Back

74   Ibid Back

75   Ibid Back

76   DFID published the final version of its Research Funding Framework 2005-2007 (referred to as the "Research Strategy") in September 2004. The points made in this Report pertaining to the draft Research Strategy apply equally to the final Research Strategy. Back

77   Martin Surr et al., Research for Poverty Reduction: DFID Research Policy Paper, November 2002 Back

78   Ev 283 Back

79   Ev 330, para 6 Back

80   Ev 121, para 2 Back

81   Ibid Back

82   Ev 289, para 5 Back

83   Q 20 Back

84   Q 20 Back

85   Ev 119 Back

86   Q 167 Back

87   Ev 157 Back

88   Q 10 Back

89   Q 17 Back

90   Q 402 Back

91   Ev 372 Back

92   Ibid Back

93   Ev 284 Back

94   Ev 171, para 11 Back

95   Ev 281, para 10 Back

96   Ev 140, para 3.1 Back

97   Ev 218 Back

98   HM Treasury, Investing in Innovation: A Strategy for Science, Engineering and Technology, July 2002 Back

99   If research undertaken by the NHS is excluded from the Department of Health's expenditure; figures are for absolute expenditure; Science, Engineering and Technology statistics, Office of Science and Technology. Back

100   Q 243 Back

101   Q 249 Back

102   HC Deb, 30 March 2004, col 1327W Back

103   Q 507 Back

104   Q 514 Back

105   Q 518 Back

106   Q 281 Back

107   Q 244 Back

108   Biosciences Federation, DFID Research Funding Framework 2005-7: A response from the Biosciences Federation to the Department for International Development, July 2004 Back

109   Nigel Thorton and Sarah del Tufo, Process of the Reorganisation of DFID Policy Division, Evaluation Trust, December 2003 Back

110   Ibid Back

111   Ibid Back

112   Ibid Back

113   Ev 376, 377 Back

114   Ev 371 Back

115   Ev 133 Back

116   Ev 166, para 23 Back

117   Ibid Back

118   Ev 255 Back

119   Ev 266, para 18 Back

120   Ev 166, para 23 Back

121   Ev 372 Back

122   Ev 119 Back

123   HC (2003-04) 664 Back

124   Ibid Back

125   Ibid Back

126   Ibid Back

127   Ibid Back

128   Ev 121, para 1 Back

129   Ev 132 Back

130   Ev 373 Back

131   Ibid Back

132   Science and Technology Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2003-04, Scientific Publications: Free for all?, HC 399-I Back

133   Ibid Back

134   Ibid Back


 
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