British academy

Research and Higher Education Policy

We provide informed advice to Government, Parliament and other organisations to advocate and promote the value of humanities and social science (HSS) research. We are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of the HSS research base.

Latest News

8 July 2014: National Academies respond to Consultation on Proposals for Long-Term Capital Investment in Science and Research

The UK's four national academies - the British Academy, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences - have jointly responded to the Government's Consultation on Proposals for Long-Term Capital Investment in Science and Research.

30 June 2014: British Academy responds to HEFCE's consultation on the role of metrics in research assessment

The British Academy has responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for England's call for evidence for its review of the role of metrics in research assessment. In our response, we emphasise the consensus across all disciplines that the most reliable way to assess research is by means of peer review, and that while metrics may inform the assessments of specialist panels, they cannot be a sustitute for them. 

3 February 2014: Survey for Early Career Academics

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy have joined forces to commission Oakleigh Consulting to carry out a study into support for individuals in the Arts and Humanities community immediately following their doctorate, and specifically those who are hoping to pursue an academic career (or began such a career but subsequently left academia).

The purpose of this survey is to add to the understanding of the roles that individuals hold at the early stage of their career, to gather views and experience of the support received, and the support required, to help individual's develop their career and make career choices.

**This survey is now closed. Many thanks to those who participated.**

1 July 2013: Debating Open Access

A collection of eight articles discussing the challenges of open access for the humanities and social sciences edited by Academy Vice-Presidents Nigel Vincent and Chris Wickham

14 June 2013: British Academy responds to the Lithuanian EU Presidency's consultation on the state of the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Europe

The significant challenges facing the EU can only be addressed by looking to solutions from across the entire spectrum of research – medicine, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. It is vital that the EU provides opportunities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research to address these challenges. And this research must be funded in a stable, long-term manner to provide researchers with the support to discover these solutions, identify how to apply them, and understand the implications for the many and diverse societies which constitute the EU. 

The British Academy also contributed to the response from the All European Academies (ALLEA). That response is available to read on our International policy page.
16 April 2013: British Academy gives evidence to House of Commons select committee inquiry into open access

Professor Chris Wickham, British Academy Vice-President, appeared in front of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Tuesday 16 April to give evidence as part of its inquiry into open access. In his evidence, Professor Wickham continued to make the case for a slower, more nuanced approach to implementing open access for research findings, and argued for a better understanding of the issues surrounding licence conditions. You can watch the committee hearing on Parliament TV here.

25 March 2013: British Academy advice to HEFCE on open access and submissions to REF post-2014

The British Academy has offered advice to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support it in developing the forthcoming consultation on the role of open access publishing in the submission of outputs to the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework.

20 March 2013: British Academy response to RCUK Open Access Policy and Supporting Guidance

The British Academy has responded to the RCUK’s call for comments on its Open Access Policy and Supporting Guidance, published earlier this month. We criticise the limited amount of time given by RCUK to offer comments on such an important policy, particularly in light of the recent report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that noted the lack of previous consultation. In our response, we call on the RCUK to improve the clarity and consistency of its guidelines on embargo periods and licences to take into account the impact on the humanities and social sciences. We also urge RCUK to be clear about how the policy will be reviewed and to engage more widely with universities and subject bodies on any further changes, in order to reflect different publication practices across the full spectrum of disciplines.

13 March 2013: British Academy believes that the current structure of the research councils is effective and contributes to the UK’s highly successful track record in research

For the humanities and social sciences, there is no evidence to suggest that there would be any advantage in changing the current structure and number of research councils. At a time of fiscal constraint, it would be risky to rethink this structure when the prospective benefits of such a move are unproven and are likely to be costly in the immediate short-term.

25 February 2013: Open access implementation should be done well, not quickly

7 February 2013: British Academy submits evidence to House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills select committee inquiry into open access

30 January 2013: Is Excellent Better Than Best? League Tables in Higher Education

Watch the debate, featuring Professor Michael Arthur, Phil Baty, Professor Harvey Goldstein and Baroness Onora O'Neill. Chaired by Victoria Derbyshire, BBC 5Live.

18 January 2013: Academy submits evidence to House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into the implementation of open access

The British Academy has submitted evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee to support its inquiry into the implementation of open access. We have reiterated our concern that the current policies are being implemented too quickly and without a full understanding of the likely impact on humanities and social sciences disciplines. A particular point of concern is the discrepancy between positions on embargo periods. The Finch Report and the Government both expressed the view that these needed to be considered carefully, with an embargo period of 24 months not being unreasonable. RCUK, however, has stated that the maximum embargo period would be 12 months. It is important to ensure that the policies on open access are appropriate and sustainable rather than rush into a one-size-fits-all approach.