Written evidence submitted by the Research
Councils UK (PR 67)|
1. Research Councils UK is a strategic partnership
set up to champion research supported by the seven UK Research
Councils. RCUK was established in 2002 to enable the Councils
to work together more effectively to enhance the overall impact
and effectiveness of their research, training and innovation activities,
contributing to the delivery of the Government's objectives for
science and innovation. Further details are available at www.rcuk.ac.uk.
2. This evidence is submitted by RCUK and represents
its independent views. It does not include, or necessarily reflect
the views of the Knowledge and Innovation Group in the Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The submission is
made on behalf of the following Councils:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Medical Research Council (MRC).
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
3. RCUK welcomes the opportunity to respond to
the Committee's inquiry into "the operation and effectiveness
of the peer review process used to examine and validate scientific
results and papers prior to publication".
4. Peer review is a highly valued tool in the
assessment of the quality of research in both the sciences and
the arts. As Research Councils we predominantly use peer review
in the assessment and prioritisation of which research to fund
- this aspect of peer review is upstream of the processes under
discussion by the Select Committee and therefore not addressed
in this response.
5. The strengths of peer review far outweigh
the weaknesses. Peer review is a key part of the global research
landscape, without it the quality of outputs and the quality of
research decision making would be much poorer. Peer
review provides a detailed technical review of the quality of
the research under discussion - essential in order to validate/test
assertions made and is accepted as a valid way in which to assure
the quality of publications world wide. Researchers take their
responsibilities as peer reviewers seriously and the community
of peer reviewers represents a significant breadth of expertise;
academics, industrialists and other experts both nationally and
6. Whilst the benefits of peer review are clear
it is important to note that it is both time consuming and labour
intensive and that demands on reviewers are higher than ever both
from Journals and funding bodies nationally and internationally.
Where possible steps should be taken to streamline processes without
Research Councils UK
10 March 2011