Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Memorandum 42

Submission from the Royal Society of Edinburgh



    —  Science[171] at the heart of Government is a crucial issue, given that science pervasively underpins many and possibly most of the issues important for good government.—  The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and Innovation and the Council for Science and Technology play important roles but are not sufficient as means of placing science at the heart of government. A long term, adaptive strategy for science needs to be owned at the highest level of Government and articulated in terms of the objectives, processes and institutions required to ensure the excellence of the science base and its efficient exploitation. The creation of a Department for Science could be an effective means of ensuring this. —  The creation of effective policy and its implementation not only depend upon top level engagement but also on intermediary bodies that through their understanding of operational reality are able both to contribute to the development of policy and its efficient execution.

    —   The strengths of the current system include the existence of efficient, experienced and successful bodies such as the research and funding councils, the existence of chief scientists in all departments of UK Government (though not of devolved administrations) and the existence of national academies able to contribute highly expert, independent advice.

    —  Its weaknesses include the absence of a well articulated science strategy with powerful champions; the difficulty of achieving cross-departmental coordination (the potential of the committee of chief scientists needs to be realised); the relative failure of policies for cross-disciplinary research support and its application; the emerging gaps between UK and devolved administration policies for science; and the failure to engage with the emerging European Research Area.

    —  The capacity of the non-governmental science community, particularly that of the universities, is very much greater than the diminished science capacity of government. It should be a priority for government to devise policies to draw on that external capacity, whilst recognising that the role of the science community is to provide evidence, not to determine public policy; that is for government.

    —  There is a need for separate but interacting regional as well as national science strategies, but these should also interact with an EU level strategy.

    —  Public engagement and dialogue should be major components of science strategy.

    —  Scrutiny of science policy needs to be extended to include the interfaces between regional, UK and EU policies.

  1.  The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland's National Academy, is pleased to respond to the Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills (IUSS) Committee inquiry, Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy. The RSE is well placed to respond to the issues raised by the inquiry as the Society's Fellowship includes distinguished individuals drawn from Science, Medicine, Arts & Letters, Engineering & Technology, the Professions, Industry and Commerce. We respond in turn to each of the questions in the inquiry document, which are set out in italic below.

Are the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and Innovation and the Council for Science and Technology successful in putting science and engineering at the heart of policy-making and should there be a Department for Science?

  2.  The evidence of cause and effect in nature and society that are yielded by scientific knowledge and understanding is vital to most areas of public policy. At the same time, the application of scientific knowledge has and will continue to change the world we live in, in ways that are fundamental to the operation of society and the economy. It is therefore crucially important that Government creates mechanisms whereby policymakers are able to access and utilise the very best scientific advice; and which are also able to maintain and enhance the strength, effectiveness and morale of the science base. The fact that some scientifically established relationships go against the grain of popular belief or prejudice must not be allowed to inhibit their application in policy; a not inconsiderable challenge to politicians and civil servants.

3.  It is therefore of great importance that there is a strong advocacy for science and engineering at the heart of government including Cabinet level. Equally it is important that mechanisms exist within government and across departments to ensure that scientific understanding is acquired and applied.

  4.  A number of vital functions are required of government:

    (a) The means to create a long term strategy for science in terms of objectives, processes and bodies, that is agreed and supported at Cabinet level. The 10-year science and innovation investment framework published by the government in 2004 was an important step forward, but has not been followed by further development at a high level. The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and Innovation could be a means of doing this, although it seems that its principal current function is to address particularly urgent issues. If it is not to act at a high strategic level, there is a case for the creation of a Department for Science. With the demise of Lord Sainsbury as Science Minister, the strategic awareness and the vital engagement of the science community that he created has waned. It is important that these are redeveloped. Much responsibility for processes of awareness and engagement also falls on the shoulders of the Chief Scientific Adviser.

    (b) Processes that ensure routine access to scientific advice and the coordination of responses across government. In principle this should be the role of departmental chief scientists. Now that all/most Whitehall departments have a chief scientist, we would like to see chief scientists working more effectively, under the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, to maintain and construct robust advice routes and to coordinate actions across government. Capacity for the latter depends crucially on the willingness of departmental ministers to engage with coordinated action. Leadership from Cabinet or Prime Ministerial level is crucial in ensuring this.

    (c) The means to access scientific advice to respond rapidly to short-term issues and crises. It important that government perennially ensures that advice routes are in place so that the best advice can be tapped to respond to such issues. The issues will change through time, and it is important to review the existence of sources of appropriate advice and routes through which it can be accessed. Some advice can be derived from specialist government institutes. Much will come from universities and other bodies. Mechanisms should be developed that will permit government to exploit the enormous resources of the universities, which are currently less than optimally used.

    (d) Processes that ensure input from independent expert bodies on major issues. The Council for Science and Technology produces reports for government and intervenes with advice on specific, long-term issues of importance. We believe that this is an important function that has proved to be valuable, and is a means of bringing in the best external advice on particular issues. The role of learned societies is also important in this regard.

  5.  Given this analysis, and in conclusion, science at the centre of government is more than a matter of a cabinet committee or the CST, but a process that is able to ensure coherence across government. In principle, a Department for Science might seem to be a means of doing this, backed up by strong Cabinet-level leadership.

  6.  It is also important to recognise that although much of the terrain of science is indeed thoroughly known and understood, many highly problematic issues of the day lie at the limit of our understanding, and are associated with considerable uncertainty. It is vital in these cases that Government does not hide behind falsely claimed scientific certainty, as it did in the cases of BSE and Salmonella, but recognises the uncertainty and expresses it clearly when political judgements need to be made. The development of a discourse that is able to admit uncertainty in science-related issues should be an important priority for Government.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current system through which Government formulates science and engineering policy?

  7.  The development, formulation and execution of policy not only depends on clearly defined primary objectives and high level engagement and support, but also on the existence of intermediary bodies familiar with operational processes, constraints and motivations that are able to translate high level government policy objectives into policies that stimulate an appropriate operational response. This latter function is fulfilled by two types of body, those "arms length" bodies (principally the Research Councils, which iterate with Government through the Director General of Research Councils (DGRC), University Funding Councils and Regional Development Agencies) whose actions direct, fund or influence the major part of the UK science base in universities and institutes, and those governmental bodies that directly control government science activities.

Arms-length bodies: Research Councils

8.  In comparison with other European systems, the Research Councils are effective in supporting basic research, in balancing major directed, thematic programmes with responsive-mode funding, analysing and developing initiatives to address issues such as science-based innovation and science and society, and feeding their perspectives to Government through the DGRC either to inform and refine Government policy imperatives or to suggest new areas of priority for policy.

9.  Their principle weaknesses are:

    (a) The perennial failure, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, in developing policies and practices to support cross-disciplinary research. This remains particularly acute across the divide between natural science/engineering/medical science and social science, where science-directed ESRC programmes tend to link only poorly with cognate areas funded by other research councils.

    (b) The difficulties of generating polices for their institutes. Many institutes were set up to focus on issues that were currently important, but where science priorities have changed, many institutes either defend out-moded priorities or have difficulty in adapting to new ones because of limited staff turnover.

Arms-length bodies: Funding Councils

  10.  Just as happens with Research Councils, they are able to interpret ministerial guidance and use their own expertise in a very effective way to determine the most effective processes through which government priorities can be promoted and to identify key areas for policy development.

11.  The dual support system for research is a central plank of policy underpinning university research and is one of great strength. It derives from its capacity to provide money for research without prescribing how it should be used. It permits universities to use their creativity and back their own hunches in pursuing new research directions. In some other systems, such as that of Sweden, almost all money for research now flows through research grants to individuals, such that the university is now merely a "research hotel", deprived of its potential to use its creativity in developing new research directions.

  12.  The value of relative autonomy is exemplified by the Scottish Funding Council's central role in devising and planning, in consultation with the Scottish universities, the pooling arrangements that have created powerful cross-university structures in science in Scotland.

  13.  A major policy weakness has been the absence of a clear signal from funding councils about the level of selectivity in research that is in the national interest. In practice, a relatively small number of universities have been awarded the lion's share of funding. There has however been no policy for research-related activities of other institutions. The value of the RAE and what will follow it is diminished without a clear statement about the rationale, at the level of the whole system, for patterns of funding, so that institutions can make appropriate long-term plans. What shape do we want the university science base to have, and what type of functional diversity should it display? These issues are matters for Government as well as the Funding Councils.

Arms-length bodies—RDAs

  14.  Although policies for the health of basic research are best created at national level, economic benefits that involve the application of science are realised at regional and local levels. The development of the RDAs has been in principle an important step forward. However, we are only able to comment knowledgeably about Scotland's RDA, Scottish Enterprise. Its strengths are its capacity to identify and to exploit the potential of the research base to benefit innovation and business in Scotland, through relatively close contacts with the Scottish Funding Council and, through its local bodies, with individual universities. It has been able to fund infrastructure projects in universities and institutes where these have been seen to have potential to stimulate innovation, inward investment and business growth. It has also created Intermediary Technology Institutes designed to act as a proxy for the missing "market pull" on the science base in Scotland.

15.  The weakness of Scottish Enterprise has been its tendency to work through strategies that depend on collaboration from the science base without involving it in prior debate and joint planning, thereby losing its expertise from the planning process, and often creating sub-optimal projects or projects that need reverse engineering.

  16.  A further negative development has been the recent centralisation of Scottish Enterprise activities and the loss of local capacity.

Direct UK Government capacities

  17.  Our comments here follow on from those in paragraphs 2-6 above. Current strengths include:

    (a) Government minister with responsibility for science;

    (b) Cabinet sub-committee for science;

    (c) high profile chief scientific adviser with high level access;

    (d) committee of chief departmental scientists, although this could be more influential in developing a cross-cutting science agenda;

    (e) Council for Science and Technology with a capacity to bring independent expert advice to bear on important issues that need to have greater traction in Government;

    (f) Technology Strategy Board able to identify the need for and to provide sustained support for important technological opportunities.

  18.  Weaknesses in the policy forming process include:

    (a) Uncertainty whether a strategic view of the structure, priorities and strength of the UK science base as a whole is sufficiently provided by Cabinet sub-committee. If the sub-committee is unable to do this, and the Society is sceptical that it can do so, then given the nature of committees and the limited resource available to it, the case for a Department of Science with a minister at the Cabinet table becomes strong.

    (b) There is vital need to ensure coordination across departments. The committee of chief scientists is a step in the right direction, but ministers themselves need to support such endeavours. Again, this might best be done through a Department of Science headed by a Cabinet minister.

    (c) More effective ways need to be found of accessing the enormous range and depth of expertise in the universities, and indeed of prestigious learned societies such as ourselves, the Royal Society, the Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

  19.  Other priorities include:

    (a) The reality of devolution should be recognised. Too many UK bodies have effectively become English bodies, through their failure to recognise and to engage with the structures that have been developed in devolved administrations.

    (b) Contracts for research in support of evidence-based policies should be placed wherever it can be done best, and the research should be subjected to high standards of peer review.

    (c) The policy making process should be separated from the STEM evidence which is taken into account in formulating it, and that the evidence should, for important issues, be made publicly available in plain English.

    (d) Procedures should be adopted which ensure that public values are taken into account during the stage of policy formulation.

    (e) A process of horizon-scanning should be routinely developed which identifies difficult science-based issues before they become matters of acute controversy (eg nuclear waste and MMR), so that authoritative evaluations of the underlying science and its uncertainties can be published in plain English, to avoid hurried policy decisions being made at times of acute controversy. The horizon-scanning function within GO-science has not been as effective as we would have hoped.

    (f) The social sciences should be more routinely engaged to understand better how business, universities, government agencies and research institutions can interact more effectively and how public values can be included in the formation and implementation of policy.

Are the views of the science and engineering community, or should they be, central to the formulation of government policy, and how could the success of any consultation be assessed?

  20.  The government has political, social and economic objectives that it wishes to pursue that reflect the dynamics of political debate. The STEM community has no special locus in determining these priorities, although scientists may be heavily involved as individuals. The primary role of the STEM community is to provide evidence about matters of governmental concern (eg the psychological impacts of cannabis), to identify issues that require a governmental response (eg the probability of severe climate change), or evidence of the options that could underlie policy decision about how to respond to such issues (eg low emission energy generation options). Such involvement by the STEM community may be quite fundamental to the eventual policy, but it is for Government to determine what that policy should be, according to their political objectives, not the STEM community. Science is concerned to understand the working of nature, it is for society to determine how that understanding should be used.

21.  A major problem lies in the extent to which scientific understanding has extended to so many diverse issues. Science is now such a powerful and pervasive source of understanding that there are few areas of government policy to which it do not apply. At the same time far more scientific knowledge lies outwith the ready reach of Government than within it, where the direct STEM support for policy within Government is relatively small. In many areas, direct support has diminished whereas the range of expertise needed to underpin policy has greatly expanded. The question for Government is no longer whether the input of the STEM community to policy formation is necessary, it is clearly vital, but how best that input can be achieved.

  22.  There is a serious need to enlist support for public policy from the wider science base, particularly from the universities, which contain unique ranges of competence and therefore a unique capacity to address complex cross-discipline issues. To achieve this, Government needs to analyse its needs more rigorously and reach out more effectively to the universities. Universities need to recognise and reward the importance of this activity, and both need to discuss the funding basis that would enable this development. It is timely both for UK and devolved administrations to consider how to address their particular needs.

  23.  It is highly questionable whether the conventional process of consultation about a proposed policy is adequate to the need. This Society responds to a relatively large number of consultation documents in any one year. In doing so it is able to bring together, at very short notice, groups of expert Fellows from across the disciplinary spectrum (the RSE is unique amongst British national academies in the breadth of its fellowship) that in most cases far outweigh the experience that is readily available to Government departments. In far too many cases, the underlying technical basis of consultation papers is deeply flawed. In some, through persistence, we are able to achieve some reverse engineering, but in many cases we suspect that the purpose of consultation is simply to claim that it has occurred. It would be far better if Government were able to create imaginative mechanisms that would entrain high levels of expertise from the start. The relationship between the US Government and the National Academy of Sciences would be worth inspection in this regard.

  24.  The extent to which Government taps scientific expertise can be strongly influenced by the ethos of the particular department, with some being particularly good at recognising the need to have access to outside scientific expertise. However, there are some departments that do not recognise this need. The appointment of Chief Scientists in all departments in Whitehall is an important first step, but as yet no clear process where all directorates of the Scottish Government can access necessary scientific advice, or even in some cases understand where it might be necessary. This should not be difficult in Scotland, thanks to its small size and the excellence and relatively large size of the Scottish science base. It should be a priority.

  25.  One component of the STEM community whose voices are inadequately heard in government is that in the SME technology sector. In Scotland, such companies are the major employers of practising STEM graduates. These SMEs do not have the time or energy to ensure that they are represented on government committees, such that the distinctive issues for the sector are inadequately recognised.

  26.  It is important that there is a consultation network that infiltrates and engages the most appropriate constituencies where informed opinion can be found. Both the STEM community and the policy-makers need to be confident in the modes of communication that sustain and access the network. The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of London are important parts of such a network, as are the learned societies and professional bodies.

Is there a case for a regional science policy (versus national science policy) and does the Haldane principle need updating?

  27.  Not only is there a need for regional science policies, but the European dimension of science policy also needs to be addressed. The UK has been highly remiss in not engaging with the debate about an emergent European Research Area, which would benefit greatly from more formal UK involvement in its creation. The question is: what are the functions that should be located at European, UK and regional levels respectively? We offer the following prescription:

    (a) European level: A European common market for research could provide a powerful and creatively competitive framework for the UK science base, through joint planning and procurement of major infrastructure and of major, globally significant research programmes; a highly competitive frame for basic research funded through a well-funded European Research Council, and enhanced mobility as a contribution to greater dynamism.

    (b) UK level: Focus on maintaining the competitiveness of basic research; provision of national level infrastructure; sustained term support for UK strategic priorities; national processes that ensure that a national STEM network is effective and can be drawn on efficiently to respond to governmental and social priorities.

    (c) Regional level: Much economic benefit from the science base is realised at local and regional levels, and it is important that regional players have a shared view of regional economic priorities. In addition, the regions should want to compete effectively for national and EU funding and in attracting inward investment. A regional science strategy that is nested in national strategy should be designed to achieve these objectives.

  28.  The realities of devolution require an extra dimension in a regional policy in view of the divergence of many areas of public policy between devolved and UK administrations. To this end, the Scottish Government has recently published a science strategy. However, in its desire to address distinctive Scottish priorities, it does not adequately address the mechanisms that will maximise benefit from UK-level integration. It is vital that Scotland remains an integral part of the UK science base. A large scale system has greater capacity to maintain research diversity and thereby the flexibility to pursue new directions; to make available otherwise unaffordable opportunities to its most competitive groups; and to stimulate excellence through its openness to competition and the wider horizons that it offers.

  29.  The post of Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government has recently been established, supported by a Scottish Science Advisory Council. These are welcome developments, but as yet, scientific advice is not as pervasively available within the Scottish Government as it needs to be.

  30.  The science base in Scotland has benefited greatly from a joint initiative of the Scottish Funding Council and the Universities, to create "pooling" in a number of key science areas (Physics, Chemistry, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Informatics & elements of Medical Sciences). This has created managed networks of the best researchers from the Scottish universities. It has provided a framework for integrated schools in the vital area of graduate education. It has simplified the academic landscape so that the strategic priorities of Scottish universities are clearer to research funders, made it easier for business to identify research that may be relevant to its needs, and, critically, proved to be a powerful attractor for international academic talent into Scotland. It also includes links with research institutes. It is a model worthy of notice, and reflects the creative adaptivity that a regional element of strategy permits.

Engaging the public and increasing public confidence in science and engineering policy

  31.  Because of the impacts of new scientific understanding and technological developments on the lives of individuals and society, it is imperative, particularly in a democratic society, that all are stakeholders in the scientific venture. Science must be a public rather than a private enterprise. Science and the technologies that flow from it offer options and opportunities. How the latter are exploited should be in principle a decision for society. In this interplay, scientists need to engage with fellow citizens and policy makers in explaining the potentials and limitations of their science, whilst recognising the critical importance of social values in determining how scientific understanding should be used. Governments and bodies in civic society need to collaborate in creating the frame within which these interactions can occur.

32.  If these processes fail, there is every prospect that the scientific creativity and understanding that is increasingly required to cope with global problems will not be exploited, that we will fail to realise the potential that science offers in the economy and in support of public policy, and that we will be indecisive and ineffectual in the face of the many challenges that confront us.

  33.  In its comprehensive response to the DIUS consultation, A Vision for Science and Society the RSE identified the following primary objectives of a policy for science and society:

    (a) To help all citizens understand as much as possible how the science enterprise works, so that they can understand and engage with it.

    (b) To develop habits and processes that give society a say, possibly in the priorities for science, but certainly in the introduction of potentially disruptive technologies, and how we should respond to global problems.

    (c) To ensure that mechanisms exist to provide the scientific support that public policy needs.

    (d) To ensure we have the scientists and engineers needed to support the development of the economy, social services, infrastructure and the development of more sustainable ways of living on the planet.

    (e) Finally, to recognise that the rationale for science and funding of science is not only utilitarian, as described in the four preceding imperatives. The instinct to understand, to find meaning, and to map the cosmos and ourselves is deeply human; a common pursuit that all societies have shared. Science is a fundamental part of that enterprise and should be encouraged and supported as such.

The importance of Public Engagement and Dialogue

  34.  The purpose of such dialogue is not to determine policy but to inform it. It is crucial that the questions are posed in such a way that the outcome of the dialogue process has the potential to be useful in policy development, and that Government does not commission dialogue on questions where it has already determined its policy and is simply looking for public agreement. Dialogue is most likely to be fruitful where Government has a coherent view of what it wants from the process, where it is has a blank policy canvas, or where dialogue can change aspects of a pre-existing policy direction. Unlike written consultation exercises, dialogue processes are open and their outcomes readily scrutinized. To be seen to ignore them can undermine the credibility of the policy and the dialogue processes in general. It is also important to assess the circumstances under which "upstream engagement" may be appropriate. Another problem is the difficulty or impossibility of knowing the outcomes or practical applications of emerging science or technology. This may undermine the incentive for public involvement and make it easier for special interest groups to dominate debate and promote their agenda. The timing and framing of dialogue is crucial in avoiding premature foreclosure on emerging technologies. Careful framing of the question could however avoid this outcome whilst uncovering areas of public concern that could beneficially influence the research and development agenda.

35.  There are signs the UK Government is developing effective processes for dialogue, but three issues need to be addressed: appropriate horizon scanning processes need to be associated with careful judgments about where dialogue would be appropriate and at which stage of emergence of an issue it should be applied; issues must be framed in such a way that dialogue can influence the development of policy; and a corporate memory of the process must be kept.

Science education in school

  36.  A key issue centres upon the provision of science education in school. Our schools not only prepare those who will go on to career in science and technology, but also those who will not, and most of these non-scientists need to have some comprehension of how the science works and how it affects their lives. We believe that much science education at school does not prepare these citizens well.

37.  One problem is the widespread misapprehension that science always gives unambiguous and definite answers. The misapprehension is both understandable and unfortunate. Understandable—because the science taught in school is about things we understand very well. Unfortunate—because many innovations in science lie at or beyond the frontiers of what is currently known, which makes it harder to define potential side effects and forecast risks. The consequence is that schooling in science often does not prepare students for the "real world" of science they will meet in later life. For example, they and their parents are confused by conflicting views about nutrition, vaccination, HIV and global warming, and by the cacophony of conflicting certainties and crude characterisations propounded in the media. Part of the challenge for science education should be to familiarise pupils with the concept of uncertainty and the fact that much scientific understanding is provisional, without corroding their confidence in the scientific process.

  38.  In Scotland, the development of the new Curriculum for Excellence, which has the potential to create more flexible approaches, should be exploited to take these issues into account in the later stages of school education. The intention is to develop cross-cutting, interdisciplinary themes; to address applications and explore real-world relevance; and focus on active learning in open-ended investigations, together with discussion, debate and critical thinking. The phasing of these processes is critical, however. The nuts and bolts of understanding remain the disciplines which have been the means whereby reality is analysed and understood and are still powerful drivers of new knowledge. The integration of these disciplines and intellectual concepts like complexity are advanced skills and should not be introduced at too early a stage. To address these challenges effectively, there needs to be far more opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD).

The roles of universities in the science and society agenda

  39.  An essential step is a change in culture whereby societal engagement is rediscovered as a major function of the universities and regarded as a natural extension of their research function, as well as one which permits them to promote their research into the public domain. One way to facilitate this culture change would be to recognise initiatives in terms of promotion and pay. The research councils could also strengthen the requirement for societal engagement in research programmes. We are sceptical that another stream of funding is called for. To stratify university activity into an excessive number of specific streams that are individually funded as if they were not part of the same educational and research enterprise would be counter-productive. The funding for societal engagement should be embedded in existing funding streams.

The role of GO-Science, DIUS and other Government departments, charities, learned societies, Regional Development Agencies, industry and other stakeholders in determining UK science and engineering policy

40.  We have dealt with most of these issues in preceding sections of our response. In broad terms, the contribution of scientific understanding to good government is maximised when there is policy framework that ensures:

    (a) that a science strategy is supported at the highest level of Government;

    (b) that the strategy is wide ranging, comprehensive and intellectually coherent;

    (c) that the best possible advice reaches those parts of government when & how they need it;

    (d) that where appropriate, policies are coordinated across government rather than stopping at inter-departmental boundaries;

    (e) that government encourages and is open to independent scientific advice and that it learns where these sources are;

    (f) that the public are engaged when there are science-based issues that present ethical challenges or difficult choices;

    (g) and that the need for different levels of strategy (European, UK, regional) is accepted and that there is integration between these levels.

How should government science and engineering policy be scrutinised?

  41.  Scrutiny by the Westminster and devolved parliaments and their committees should continue to be rigorous. This in itself poses a problem. There is a "scrutiny gap". We have argued above for there to be "nesting" of policies between EU, UK and regional levels, but nesting based on complementarity and integration. Failure to achieve this risks gross inefficiencies. There are already examples of Scotland unnecessarily reinventing approaches that are already developed in England and vice versa. It is important that there should be some form of common scrutiny of these interfaces, rather than only separate scrutiny from European, UK and devolved parliaments.

42.  Public scrutiny is also crucial. Wherever possible government should be transparent about the information sources that inform policy decisions and the relationship between evidence and policy. Public engagement and dialogue, unlike written consultation exercises, dialogue processes are open and their outcomes readily scrutinized.


  In responding to this consultation the Society would like to draw attention to the following Royal Society of Edinburgh responses which are of relevance to this subject:

    —  The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission to the review of Guidelines on the use of scientific advice in policy making (January 2000)

    —  The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission to the Scottish Executive Enterprise & Lifelong Learning Department's consultation into a Science Strategy for Scotland (July 2000)

    —  The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission to the UK Government consultation, Science and Innovation: Working Towards a Ten-Year Investment Framework (April 2004)

    —  The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission to the Scottish Executive's consultation on a Science and Innovation Strategy for Scotland (December 2006)

    —  The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission to DIUS, A Vision for Science and Society (October 2008)

January 2009

171   We use the term "science" as a shorthand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Back

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