Safeguarding science's foundations

May 3, 1996

The NAPAG report claims to be concerned with protecting internationally competitive science and supporting the best research fully. It suggests that one way of doing this is to stop funding 2-rated departments. The assumption is that internationally-competitive research only goes on in 4 or 5 rated departments. This is demonstrably not the case.

In this department, rated 2 in the last RAE, we have one laboratory that has just been awarded three research council grants, two rated 5a and one rated 4a. This is research that is "outstanding, of highest scientific merit and originality, expected to make a major impact on the field". A second laboratory runs a scientific service for multiple sclerosis researchers worldwide and has recently been awarded a Medical Research Council grant with the highest rating that has produced results that according to a forthcoming editorial in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism "deserves applause".

It is unlikely that the researchers who developed the work would have been offered appointments in 4 or 5 departments at the time of the last RAE and if the policy recommended by NAPAG had been followed their work would have been lost to UK science. We expect there are many similar laboratories in other 2 rated departments. Perhaps NAPAG is trying to protect its own privileged position.

D. J. Beadle, David Fell, Chris Hawes School of biological and molecular sciences Oxford Brookes University

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