To inform its discussions, members of the Steering Group on the culture of scientific research held an evidence-gathering meeting with funders of research on 31 July 2014. The group discussed a wide range of questions relating to the role of funders in the culture of research, such as:
  • What impact is high competition for research funding having on researchers and research?

  • Are current methods for assessing the quality and value of research proposals and outputs rewarding the best research and researchers?

  • What is the role of funding bodies in determining the direction of research, supporting multidisciplinary and collaborative research, and improving career structures for researchers?

  • What could we change about the UK research environment in order to further encourage the production of high quality science?

The guests at the meeting were:
  • Amanda Collis, Associate Director Science Strategy, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

  • David Cox, Deputy Director, Research Finance & Programmes, R&D Directorate, Department of Health

  • Ian Forristal, Head of Research and University Programmes, Royal Academy of Engineering

  • Steven Hill, Head of Research Policy, Higher Education Funding Council for England

  • Louise Leong, Head of R&D, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

  • Katherine Littler, Senior Policy Adviser, Wellcome Trust

  • Tony Peatfield, Corporate Affairs Group Director, Medical Research Council

  • Liz Philpots, Head of Research, Association of Medical Research Charities

  • Janet Seed, Associate Director Programmes, Science & Technology Facilities Council

  • John Skehel, Biological Secretary, Royal Society

An evidence gathering meeting with experts from the humanities and social sciences has already taken place on 19 June, and a further meeting with publishers of scientific research is planned in September.

Following the meeting, the Medical Research Council submitted written evidence to the Steering Group in order to set out its approach to the issues and to clarify some possible misperceptions of MRC policy, guidance or processes.