Welcome to Research

January 16, 1998

This week The THES launches its Research monthly, a new part of the paper which will normally appear on the third Friday of each month. It will provide a new service to the higher education community alongside the specialist coverage we already provide for those with an interest in teaching, in our Teaching Guide, and in information technology, with our Multimedia section.

Universities have always created new knowledge by research, but the way in which they do so is changing fast. There are new and important funders working alongside established actors such as the research and funding councils. And they have new priorities. As we show this month, getting first-class research into commercial application is a must for commercial firms such as Rhone-Poulenc (page iv), which is altering the way firms and universities relate to each other in France. But the example of CRC Technology, part of the Cancer Research Campaign, shows (page v) that organisations do not need to be profit-making to have an obsession with the commercial application of the work they pay for.

Top-level research is a world business in which people,money and ideas flow restlessly. The arrival of the European Commission as a major research funder - which we shallbe examining more closely in our March 20 issue - is onlyone element in this, and may turn out to be less significantfor research than moves towards monetary andpolitical union.

It is in universities' interests to bring in as much cash asthey can and to diversify their sources of research funding.But doing so is a subtle and difficult process in which issues like intellectual property have to be got right - not least because funders themselves do not want to pay for work that may prove impossible to protect by patenting.

We hope that Research will provide useful information and a forum for debate of these and other issues. Please help by letting us know what you think of our first issue and of the issues and concerns we should address next.

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