Our series of debates on the culture of scientific research have broken for summer, with six events having now taken place in Sheffield, London, Surrey, Birmingham, Norwich and Southampton, throughout June and July. UCL research culture event The events have given researchers around the country opportunities to discuss the key issues affecting the research environment today, to air their own views about what they feel is working well in UK science, and what they think needs to change.

Who have we heard from?

Throughout our events, we are keen to ensure that the panellists represent a range of expertise and backgrounds. Speakers have so far included academics at different stages of their careers, and from a number of disciplines including astrophysics, neurology, environmental sciences, cell biology, physiology, medical ethics and the social sciences. Several scientific researchers have shared their own experiences of doing research in the UK and we have heard from social scientists about their own studies of research culture, drawing contrasts between research in the social and natural sciences. University pro-vice chancellors, school deans and journal editors have also taken part on panels. We have been delighted to attract an even wider range of people to take part as members of the audience at the events. The questions and comments offered by audience members have been the central to the direction of the discussions, and the wide range of perspectives and experiences that we have heard will be invaluable to the project.

What have been the main talking points?

A number of subjects have been raised by speakers at the discussions, including issues relating to research assessment, funding, clinical trial data, public engagement, interdisciplinary research, and the various ways in which the research environment has changed over time. Audience discussions have delved further into issues around reproducibility, the use of metrics, challenges faced by early career researchers, and various aspects of peer review. Time pressures posed by grant writing, teaching, and other commitments have also been discussed, alongside potential implications for research integrity and ethical conduct.

What’s next?

We are planning more discussion events like these, with details already confirmed for events in Edinburgh, Aberystwyth, Exeter, Oxford, Nottingham and Newcastle. Details will follow of events at Cambridge, Manchester and Belfast. The events are part of a project exploring the culture of scientific research and its effect on science, coordinated by the Council and involving the Royal Society, the Society of Biology, Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry and Academy of Medical Sciences. The project aims to gather views and evidence from a wide range of sources and promote debate through this series of events. A report will be published and presented to policy makers in December 2014. The Council would like to thank everyone involved in organising and speaking at the events and especially those who’ve taken the time to share their views and take part in the conversation.