NEWS13 September 2023

UK government research interests published in searchable database

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UK – The Government Office for Science and the Economic and Social Research Council have established a database of areas of research interest (ARIs), with the aim of improving the link between research and policymaking.

Wooden blocks spelling the word 'policy'

The tool aims to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ grouping together the questions and topics government bodies are seeking more research on.

To date, the platform includes 1,500 ARIs that were initially published on the website. Users can search for particular areas of research interest by topic, date or government department, or view and filter all in the database.

ARIs listed in the database contain background information on the topic or research question, which body issued it, and links to existing research funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) where applicable.  

The Government Office for Science and ESRC co-developed the tool in response to widespread demand to improve awareness and accessibility of research interest areas across the government. Technology startup Overton produced the database.

Executive chair of the ESRC, part of UKRI, Stian Westlake, said the database offers a new way “to connect rigorous research to urgent policy challenges”.

Westlake said: “By connecting policymakers facing thorny questions to the UK’s talented researchers, the database offers new hope for solutions to hitherto intractable problems.”

Government chief scientific adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean said: “ARIs are a mechanism to improve engagement between policy officials, funders and experts in the UK and provide a clear indication of government priorities in tackling societal issues.

“This database will help officials, funders and experts in the UK to spot better opportunities to collaborate more effectively and shape their activities in response.”