Only scholarly freedom delivers real 'impact' 3

November 5, 2009

In the article "Ministers first, academics second" (News, 22 October), it was claimed that "academics have reacted angrily to an internal research council document that says that the Government - not the academic community or the public - is the 'primary audience' for its campaign to improve the economic and social impact of the research it funds".

Unfortunately, the article confuses the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's impact campaign to communicate the benefits of research with Research Councils UK's goal to increase the impact of the high-quality research it supports.

Is it so remarkable that the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences is seeking to demonstrate that investing in research and skills is vital to the UK's wellbeing? By presenting the excellence and the relevance of the research we support, we are able to argue convincingly for future funding. This is why key stakeholders in the Government and business are an obvious primary audience for the impact campaign.

The public is also an important audience and that is why much of the campaign is public-facing - the www.impactworld.org.uk website is a good example.

Our communication activities are wide-ranging, much of them focused on the research community itself. Its support is essential as it is particularly well placed to champion the importance of research and skills.

It is incumbent on all of us with an interest in the UK's research endeavour to demonstrate the importance of science and engineering to a range of audiences. Without public support and adequate funding, there will be less research activity to talk about. Perhaps it is time for us to focus on the bigger picture.

Atti Emecz, Director of communications, EPSRC.

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