Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Royal Society


  1.  The UK is one of the world's leading scientific nations and the Royal Society is recognised as the world's leading academy of science, having supported science continuously for longer than any other academy in the world. Our mission is the pursuit of excellence in science by encouraging and supporting the best individual scientists to practise and communicate and by providing the highest quality independent science advice. We do this to push back the frontiers of knowledge, to improve the quality of life both nationally and internationally and to improve the UK's competitive position. Our remit encompasses all of science and technology including medical and engineering sciences. The Royal Society performs three roles: as a learned society, as an academy and as a funding agency.

  2.  Our largest programme, which includes research fellowships and professorships, is designed to strengthen UK science by developing individual talent. These schemes fund over 400 of the UK's best scientists and engineers to undertake cutting edge research. The university research fellowships (URFs) enable 322 of the best postdoctoral researchers to spend up to 10 years on exciting research areas. The Dorothy Hodgkin scheme supports 55 scientists and is unique in providing flexible funding at the early stages of postdoctoral careers when researchers, particularly women, tend to leave science. The industrial fellowships encourage industry/academic collaboration and our most senior awards (Royal Society professorships) allow UK universities to compete with industry and overseas universities for the world's leading scientists.

  3.  The vitality of the UK's science base is dependent on attracting and retaining the best scientists. The extra money of the new Wolfson/OST Research Merit Awards has enabled us to attract researchers from universities such as Princeton and California to the UK and approximately 30 per cent of the URFs return from abroad to take up their posts. We have increased the opportunities for the best and brightest postdoctoral scientists in USA to come to the UK by establishing a new fellowship scheme and we hope to extend this to other countries of scientific strength with additional government funding.

  4.  The Society plays a vital role in ensuring that the UK engages with the best science around the world. We support excellence in science internationally through the provision of a range of grants and fellowships that enable high calibre scientists to move to and from the United Kingdom to initiate collaboration, access unique sites or facilities, exchange ideas, gain new skills or link centres of excellence for scientific research. We represent UK scientists on a wide range of European and international bodies, taking a leading role in a number of international programmes.

  5.  The selection procedure for research fellowships and grants is based on rigorous peer review by international referees and panels of leading experts in their fields with both Fellows and non-Fellows involved in this process. Funds are allocated on the basis of scientific excellence irrespective of discipline and are not constrained by the subject-specific priorities of the research councils. Our remit encompasses the whole range of science, engineering and technology allowing us to fund the type of interdisciplinary research projects that frequently fall between the remits of the individual funding bodies.

  6.  Acting as a focal point for the presentation of the latest research results has always been central to the Society's work and our international discussion meetings, journals and specialist lecture series provide the world's top scientists with many opportunities to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

  7.  We fully recognise the importance of communicating with the public whose attitudes and values are influential in the progress of science. Through a new, privately funded, Science in Society programme we are providing innovative and effective ways for scientists and policy makers to engage with the public. Recent activities have included a national forum for science, a series of public dialogue meetings throughout the UK and the creation of a dedicated website with an online dialogue facility. This is in addition to a diverse programme of lectures, exhibitions and debates targeted at a public audience.

  8.  Today's school pupils are the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. Too few young people are receiving a proper grounding in science and mathematics and we are trying to tackle this problem in a number of ways. We influence the content and delivery of the curriculum by contributing to the formulation of national education policy through representatives on government working groups and influential reports on subjects such as school science technicians and the teaching of geometry. We also work to highlight the many achievements of UK scientists and engineers and to create opportunities for schools to collaborate with universities and industry.

  9.  Many areas of public policy have a scientific dimension and policy-makers need access to reliable advice about the science. It is vital that policy-makers make use of advice from independent, authoritative and credible organisations outside government. Providing such advice is a high profile and influential element of the Society's work, and accounts for much of the Society's visibility beyond the professional scientific community. Last year, for example, we produced major reports on such subjects as genetically modified foods, climate change and depleted uranium, all with direct implications for policy. We are currently undertaking an inquiry into infectious diseases in livestock (including foot and mouth) on behalf of government. Our advice work is openly published, and we consult widely to ensure that we take account of all relevant information.

  10.  The Society works closely with a range of other bodies in UK including the British Association and the Royal Institution and together we formed COPUS. All receive money from the Society's PGA. We support the Foundation for Science and Technology and the R&D Society from private funds and work with the Association for Science Education. We have close links with the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences. We also cooperate with learned societies both directly and through the Science Council and maintain close links with the research councils. The Society represents the UK on many European and international bodies and has formal agreements with over 50 scientific organisations overseas.

  11.  The number of women in senior scientific, engineering and technological positions in the UK is unsatisfactory and represents a clear challenge to the Society's stated objective of ensuring the supply of the very best scientific talent. We have developed a broad range of activities (funded from both the PGA and private funds) aimed at tackling this problem. In 1995 we established the Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship scheme, which offers flexible working conditions and a mentor to research fellows at the early stages of their careers when women are most likely to leave science. Other activities include: the promotion of successful women as role models; ensuring that women are represented in our activities (including strategy and policy making, research appointments and selection of new Fellows); providing a contribution to child care in our conference grants. We also work closely with organisations such as WISE and the Athena project to promote the interests of women in science.

  12.  As a national academy, the Society's activities and funding are spread throughout the UK. Our Fellows are in 46 universities and numerous other bodies; and our researchers hold posts at 47 institutions. We hold well-attended public meetings and scientific lectures in major cities across the UK and are making increasing use of the web (with over two million hits per month on our web site) so that anybody, regardless of where they are based, can access information about our activities and give us feedback. But the Society is seeking to focus even more attention on the many regions of the UK and has submitted a bid through the spending review to support an enhanced programme of activities.

  13.  The Society's excellent reputation in the UK and throughout the world is based on the scientific credentials and achievements of its Fellows (FRS), who are elected for life. Fellows contribute enormously, free of charge, to our activities and pay an annual subscription. The election process for the Fellowship is based on rigorous peer review and we are constantly seeking ways to make this process as transparent and fair as possible. We have recently broadened and simplified the criteria for nomination to attract a higher number of women and candidates from emerging disciplines or bodies where there are relatively few Fellows. Women are still under-represented in senior scientific posts in universities and industry, and this is inevitably reflected in the disappointingly small number of female Fellows of the Society. The Royal Society does not monitor for ethnicity, but as we elect from throughout the Commonwealth, as well as having Foreign Members, our Fellowship draws from a diverse ethnic base.

  14.  The Royal Society is an independent, self-governing body, established under Royal Charter and managing its own affairs under the terms of that Charter and the requirements of charity law. It is thus independent of government. It receives money from the government through the science budget. Almost all of this is given out directly in support of UK science for the purposes agreed with the Office of Science and Technology (OST). The only public money going to the Society for its own use is the sum needed to pay the rent of the premises, in an agreement dating back to the eighteenth century.

  15.  Of the Society's total expenditure for 2001-02 of £39.1 million, 66 per cent or £25.9 million of the total was met from the Parliamentary Grant in Aid (PGA) allocated through the Office of Science and Technology (OST). The remaining expenditure was supported from private sources or from income generated mainly from our endowment and publications activities. The percentage of the Society's total funding met by the PGA has fallen from 78 per cent in 1996 to 66 per cent in 2001. The PGA income allows the Society to raise additional funding, much of it new, to support UK science. The Wolfson/OST Research Merit Award scheme is such an example where £2 million allocated from the PGA has attracted an additional £2 million of private funding which would not have been donated had the public funding not been available.

  16.  The PGA is monitored by the OST on a quarterly basis, with an annual report and audited accounts produced for OST. The Society has an Accounting Officer (the Executive Secretary) and is subject to the same monitoring of expenditure and compliance with expenditure rules as any other publicly funded body. The Society continues to reduce the proportion of the PGA allocated for administration, from 9 per cent in 1998 to just under 6 per cent in 2001.

  17.  The Society's premises, leased from the Crown Estate, are a home for UK science and the whole scientific community and in 2001-02 hosted over 1800 meetings.

  18.  The Society's priorities for the future are underpinned by our policy of strengthening the science base through developing young talent, retaining the brightest and best in the UK and ensuring the UK is internationally competitive. Our bid to OST for the next spending review includes proposals to: increase opportunities for women to remain in science; promote exchange between industry and academia; attract the brightest young postdoctoral scientists from countries of scientific strength to the UK; and strengthen our science policy activities in the European arena. We also believe there is a need to increase the numbers of URFs and DHFs in posts in UK universities.

  19.  In conclusion the Royal Society makes a substantial contribution to keeping UK science competitive with the best in the world. Our unique attributes include the Fellowship of 1,200 of the most outstanding scientists in the UK and the Commonwealth, the extensive network of younger scientists who hold our awards and are connected with the Society in other ways, our focus on supporting scientific excellence irrespective of discipline, and our independence of government and vested interest. We use these attributes in imaginative and creative ways to promote science. The money we receive through OST constitutes just 1.6 per cent of the science budget, but it has a powerful catalytic impact on UK science as a whole. Coupled with our private sources of income and the flexibility we have in deploying them, it enables us to anticipate and respond to the needs of UK science and thus to promote the well-being of the UK.


  The Royal Society is the UK's independent academy of science. It was founded in 1660 with the purpose of improving what we would now call "science". The early Fellows, who included Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Robert Hooke and Edmund Halley were intent on developing a new more rational way of viewing the world based on observable phenomena and on experimentation and not based on opinion, superstition or chance. The vision of the founders and their work which is carried on by today's Fellows is recognised by scientific communities throughout the world as being substantially responsible for establishing science as a major British and global endeavour. Although there were attempts to create academies in other countries before the Royal Society, we are the only one with an unbroken history, making us the world's oldest academy in continuous existence.

  Today, the Royal Society's mission is the pursuit of excellence in science by supporting and encouraging the best individual scientists to practise and communicate their science. The Society does this to push back the frontiers of knowledge and to improve the quality of life in Britain and globally. We define science as mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, engineering, medical and agricultural sciences and technology. We do not cover the humanities or the social sciences; these are the responsibility of the British Academy which the Royal Society helped to found in 1901. The Royal Society also supported the founding of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1976) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999) recognising that the professions of engineering and clinical medicine did not have a single voice for their members. The Society does, however, continue to elect engineers and medical scientists and provide financial support to both fields as part of its remit.

  The Society has three major roles: as a learned society organising meetings, producing publications, recognising excellence and generally promoting science; as the UK's Academy of Science providing independent science advice and representing UK scientists on the international stage; and as a funding agency providing financial support for scientists, engineers and technologists to pursue their work. Working across the whole range of science, engineering and technology (SET), the Society's programmes are designed to:

    —  strengthen the UK science base by developing young talent in Britain, ensuring the UK is internationally competitive and providing direct support for cutting edge science;

    —  support education and communication and encourage dialogue with the public;

    —  provide the best independent advice nationally and internationally;

    —  promote scholarship.


  Supporting the outstanding individual is the Society's highest funding priority. Our prestigious research fellowship schemes support over 400 scientists and engineers ranging from the junior postdoctoral level to research professors. They account for just under two thirds of our PGA budget and almost a quarter of our non-PGA budget (see Appendix 1 for details of our schemes and Appendix 8 for the finance). This funding makes a major contribution to maintaining and strengthening the UK science base by developing young talent, by attracting excellent scientists to the UK and by retaining those already here.

2.1  Developing future scientific leaders

  One of our key strengths is the ability to identify future scientific world leaders and to provide them with the support required to fulfil this potential. Approximately half of the total PGA budget is spent on university research fellows (URFs) and Dorothy Hodgkin research fellows (DHFs), who are on average aged 31 and 29 respectively when appointed. We ensure that our research fellows are relieved of heavy teaching and administration duties so that they can concentrate on their research. The URF scheme is our largest and enables 322 of the best postdoctoral researchers to devote up to 10 years on exciting research areas, a longer period of support than is provided by other UK schemes. The Dorothy Hodgkin scheme is also unique both in providing flexible funding for 55 people at the early stages of their postdoctoral careers when many academics (particularly women) leave science.

  Both schemes provide award holders with access to a level of support and experience that are crucial to the personal and professional development of tomorrow's scientific leaders. Experienced staff provide advice to individuals throughout their award and assist award holders in discussions with universities about their progression to senior posts. Seminars provide new research fellows with the opportunity to meet their peers and gain advice on funding and career opportunities. In addition to media and communication skills courses, our privately funded press office provides the additional advice and resources to award holders wanting to promote their research. We have recently introduced an MP pairing scheme and short secondments into government. As the national academy the Royal Society has a diverse portfolio of activities, often privately funded. Participation by research fellows in activities such as science advice working groups, Science in Society public dialogue events and the development of educational resources provides them with valuable experience. Research fellows who reach the end of their awards retain their link with the Society through membership of the Alumnus group, a national network of scientists (from both academia and industry) who meet annually to discuss issues of contemporary scientific importance. This portfolio of support and activities is not provided by other UK fellowship schemes.

2.2  Attracting and retaining the best scientists

  The fellowship schemes play a key role in attracting excellent scientists to the UK and by retaining those already here. The new Wolfson/OST research merit award scheme was established to enable UK universities to compete with industry and overseas universities for outstanding talent from around the world by providing competitive salaries and research expenses. The scheme has resulted in researchers like Dr Gabriel Aeppli leaving Princeton University in the US to work on quantum physics at University College London. Research professorships, our most prestigious awards, have been attracting and retaining the world's best scientists since the 1920's. The excellence of these award holders is reflected by the number of prizes they are awarded. Seven of our research professors have been Nobel laureates; others have been awarded equally prestigious prizes including the Fields medal (for maths) and the Craaford prize (for ecology). At the more junior level, approximately 30 per cent of the holders of URFs (our largest scheme) return from abroad to take up their awards.

2.3  Promoting interdisciplinary science

  The research councils direct a considerable portion of their funding into specific areas of science (known as thematic programmes). In contrast we allocate funding on the basis of scientific excellence and potential irrespective of discipline. This responsive mode funding enables us to support the type of innovative and blue skies research that is so vital to maintaining and developing the strength and diversity of the UK science base. Our remit encompasses the whole range of the natural sciences (including maths and computing), engineering and technology disciplines allowing us to fund the type of interdisciplinary research projects that frequently fall between the remits of the individual funding bodies.

2.4  Benefit to the UK economy

  The recent evaluation of our industry fellowship scheme (see Appendix 2) has showed its success in promoting substantial collaboration between industry and academia and its contribution to long-term wealth creation. The 36 fellowships (funded from PGA, industry and other sources) completed since 1995 have resulted in seven novel products under development including a new design of aircraft generator, a possible new anti-infective agent, improved varieties of sugar beet and mathematical methodology, software and algorithms. Another 10 products were being considered for development. Given the success of this scheme, we have bid to OST to increase the number of awards available. The speculative research that we fund under our other fellowship schemes also contributes to wealth creation. For example, research by one of our URFs into artificial vision systems has been used to create special visual effects in many films including "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" giving a boost to the UK entertainment industry. In addition, £250k of our private budget will be used in 2002-03 to support the Brian Mercer Innovation Awards that enable important scientific discoveries to be taken through to commercial exploitation.

2.5  Increasing support for women in science

  Many women who enter higher education with the intention of pursuing science-based careers leave the profession early with a loss of talent and the nation's investment in their training. The Society was one of the first to tackle the loss of women at the postdoctoral stage with the creation of the Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship (DHF) scheme. There are currently 37 DHFs funded from PGA and 18 from private funds, and the public funding was doubled after the last spending review. This scheme is playing a vital role in keeping excellent women in science at the time when they are most likely to leave and we are currently exploring further sources of sponsorship for additional awards under this scheme. We have continued this leadership role by funding privately a programme to examine what further we could do to promote women in science. As a result we have proposed two new schemes to OST: two-year relocation fellowships to reduce the numbers of scientists (mainly women) who leave science when their spouse or partner moves their workplace to another part of country; increased support for the Athena Project (See Glossary) to enable both the production of a comprehensive good practice guide and the funding of awards in recognition of outstanding progress in developing and implementing this good practice. These and other initiatives aimed at supporting women in science are outlined in Section 10.

2.6  Providing direct support for research

  £2.7 million pa of our PGA is used for direct support to over 1,400 scientists in the UK in the form of research and conference grants. Our research grants provide vital pump-priming funding of up to £10k for cutting edge research that is rarely available from other funding bodies. We are able to fund only a small proportion of the increasing number of excellent applications and we have bid to OST for further money to increase the number of grants from (currently) 270 to 310. Our conference grants enable UK scientists to participate in prestigious conferences throughout the world and include a contribution to childcare costs for conference participants. As with our other funding schemes, the selection criterion is scientific excellence and applications are assessed by rigorous peer review. Further details of these schemes and our privately-funded university refurbishment schemes can be found in Appendix 1.


3.1  Background

  Most of the world's science is done outside the UK. As the Science White Paper pointed out, the UK has 1 per cent of the world's population, we fund 4.5 per cent of the world's science and produce 8 per cent of the scientific papers. If the UK is to remain competitive globally it must be closely tied in to what is going on elsewhere. The Royal Society's work in promoting international science is a vital part of ensuring that the UK benefits from and contributes to world-class scientific research. The Society's first Royal Charter states that Fellows should "enjoy mutual intelligence and knowledge with all manner of strangers and foreigners, whether private or collegiate, corporate or politic, without any molestation, interruption or disturbance whatsoever". Ever since this original commitment, the Society has encouraged scientists world-wide to combine their efforts for the benefit of the human race and to overcome the geographical and political boundaries that can often hinder such cooperation. We offer a range of grants and, acting as the UK academy of science, represent UK scientists in the international arena.

3.2  Supporting international collaboration

  The purpose of the grants programme is to enable high calibre scientists to move to and from the United Kingdom to initiate collaboration, access unique sites or facilities, exchange ideas, gain new skill or link centres of excellence for scientific research. We focus our resources where there will be particular benefit to British science. Our exchange programmes concentrate primarily on countries with strong scientific infrastructure and countries such as China, Japan and Russia where access would be difficult for UK scientists without the benefit of our strong network of contacts.

  Our exchange schemes fall into three categories: joint projects (seed-corn funding to support the early stages of an innovative bilateral research programme); fellowships (providing excellent young scientists with up to two years support in a different country) and study visits (short-term visits of between one week and six months); (see Appendix 4 for additional information). The majority of these exchanges take place under bilateral, partnership agreements with other academies of science and with leading scientific organisations overseas. We have over 50 partners who share the programme costs with us. A survey of academics, conducted as part of the external review of our international programme, identified the breadth of scientific subject application, flexibility, simplicity of the application procedure, rapid turnaround time and the assistance provided by experienced Royal Society staff as the key attractions of these schemes. The broad geographical distribution of our grants funded from public and private sources is shown in the pie charts in the Appendix.

3.3  Attracting young talent to the UK

  The recent reviews of our international work have confirmed the importance of our schemes. The UK remains one of the preferred destinations for post doctoral researchers from overseas but the opportunities for the best and brightest to come here are very limited. The Society has identified several countries whose scientists are of the highest quality and where we believe a benefit will accrue to UK by providing opportunities for them to work here. At the last spending review, the Society successfully bid for a new incoming USA fellowship programme as part of its wish to contribute to "brain gain not brain drain". This programme has been widely welcomed on both sides of the Atlantic and the first awards will be made this year. Subject to a successful bid to OST, we intend to establish a similar fellowship programme to attract postdocs from other countries with a strong science base.

3.4  Working with other academies

  The Society maintains close links with other national academies of science across the world through formal associations and joint meetings. There are four main international associations of academies:

    —  the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC) established at the Society's initiative in 2001 to provide independent policy advice at EU level in a manner analogous to the Society's policy advice work at UK level. The Society has submitted a bid, through the spending review, for £80k annually from 2003-04 to support EASAC, the secretariat for which is based at the Royal Society.

    —  the European Federation of National Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) founded in 1990 which includes academies from 38 countries in Eastern, Central and Western Europe. It provides support for academies, especially those going through major transitions, and comments on aspects of policy for science at European level, for example on science and ethics, patents, copyright and research in smaller countries.

    —  the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), founded in 1995, a global network of 85 science academies designed to facilitate mutual support among its members and to offer independent advice on policy matters such as sustainability, a major statement on which was largely drafted by the Society and published in 2000.

    —  the InterAcademy Council (IAC) established by leading IAP members in 2000 to ensure that policy-makers in transnational bodies receive independent advice on international scientific issues, such as climate change and capacity building.

  The Society builds on its excellent relations with other academies to create informal consortia for specific projects. Major reports that the Society has produced recently in this way include:

    —  Measures for controlling the threat from biological weapons, following a joint meeting with the US National Academy of Sciences and the French Academie des Sciences.

    —  Transgenic plants and world agriculture, published jointly with the Third World Academy of Sciences and the academies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and the United States.

    —  A statement on climate change, published rapidly with 16 other academies from all parts of the world in May 2001 as a guest editorial in the highly influential US-based journal Science, in response to media reports that the President of the United States doubted the scientific case for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

  As these examples demonstrate, close links between the world's academies help us to tackle scientific issues that have an international significance. With the increasing importance of science, engineering and technology on the world stage, the Royal Society expects to devote more resources to cultivating links with other academies over the next few years.

3.5  Strengthening the UK's role in the International Council for Science

  In 1900, the Royal Society, together with the Academie des Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences helped to establish what is today called the International Council for Science (ICSU). Initially, Britain's subscriptions to ICSU were paid by the Society from its private funds, but the government recognised the importance of British scientists contributing to the international bodies and in 1920 increased our PGA to cover these and similar payments to other international bodies. Today the Royal Society continues to represent the UK on ICSU. Over the last four years, we have been reviewing our membership of the 38 affiliated scientific unions and, as a result, have withdrawn from two and have passed on responsibility for membership of 17 other discipline-based unions to the relevant UK learned societies, although we continue to pay 49 per cent of the subscriptions. This rationalisation has brought UK scientists closer to their relevant international bodies and improved the value for money that the UK secures from membership. The Society provides financial support for UK delegates to participate in the business meetings of ICSU, its affiliated Unions and other international bodies, thus helping UK scientists to take part in shaping international science policy.

  ICSU has been appointed by the United Nations as scientific organising partner for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002. The Royal Society helped to draft an ICSU report for the summit and is working with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that the UK delegation to the summit is up to date on scientific aspects of sustainable development.

3.6.   Promoting links with scientists and policy-makers in other countries

  The Society's excellent worldwide reputation means that we receive many high-level delegations from overseas, either independently or in concert with government departments. The Society's Officers and staff also help to prepare briefs for senior UK delegations to other countries, and in some cases join government ministers and officials on trips to countries where the Society is particularly active in promoting British interests, such as India, China and Taiwan. These activities are funded in part by the PGA and in part by the host country.

3.7  Supporting major international research projects

  The Society supports three major international environmental research projects: in Danum Valley, Malaysia, looking at tropical rain forest regeneration and biodiversity; at Lake Baikal in Siberia looking at long term climate change; and jointly with the Royal Geographical Society in the Indian Ocean on marine biology. Our grants provide long-term support for research where long-term datasets are essential and help to meet conservation and training objectives in these sites of immense environmental significance.


4.1  Selection process

  The selection procedure for all of our awards is based on rigorous peer review. International referees and panels of leading experts in their fields undertake the peer review and selection of applications with both Fellows and non-Fellows involved in the process. The primary criterion for selection is scientific excellence although for some fellowships, such as the Dorothy Hodgkin scheme, a secondary criterion is the degree to which the person will benefit from the scheme. This accounts for the higher success rate of women applying for this scheme. Success rates for male and female applicants to the URF scheme are approximately equal while in the last round of the Research Professor scheme, female applicants, based on the sole criterion of excellence, had a higher success rate than men (12 per cent vs. 4 per cent). Referees and selection panels are specifically reminded of the importance of considering outstanding scientists with non-traditional backgrounds, candidates who have had a late start in higher education or whose progress has been interrupted by career breaks or relocation. A strict vested interest policy ensures that anyone connected with the applicant is excluded from the decision making process. Only 4.5 per cent of award holders are Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS) and there is, of course, no requirement for applicants for any of our schemes to have sponsorship from a FRS. Our research fellows are distributed throughout the UK including at post-1992 universities such as Portsmouth and Liverpool John Moores (see Appendix 9). 31 per cent of our award holders choose to take their research fellowships to Oxford and Cambridge, universities that are widely recognised internationally as centres of excellence across the range of the scientific disciplines. Applicants for international grants and awards are assessed in a similar way, and our partners overseas undertake the peer review for award holders coming to UK.

4.2  Evaluation

  The monitoring, evaluation and review of our fellowship and grant schemes are vital to ensuring that they remain effective in supporting scientific excellence. We have just completed a detailed evaluation of outputs and outcomes from our industry fellowship scheme that confirmed its value in promoting innovation and collaboration between academic and industry scientists (see Appendix 2). We are currently undertaking a similar evaluation of our other fellowship schemes. We also use exit questionnaires to monitor whether schemes are meeting their objectives. An analysis of URF exit questionnaires (Appendix 3) indicates the high level of satisfaction with the scheme but indicates that a small number of fellows felt isolated. Now this problem has been identified, we intend to address it by holding more regional seminars for URFs.

  There have been three recent reviews of our international grants work. The whole of our international portfolio was externally reviewed in February 2002 and the recommendations are currently being implemented. An internal review of the joint projects schemes in January 2002 indicated the wide range of outcomes from these awards. These include: successful applications for further funding from other bodies; scientific publications and conference proceedings (average of eight per project); establishment of new laboratories; patents filed; products under development; and prizes awarded to UK researchers and their collaborators. We monitor and evaluate our programmes and adjust budgets where necessary to reflect external changes. The third review was of our European programme which strongly endorsed the present arrangements and commented on the cost-effective administration of the scheme.

4.3  Cost efficiency

  We administer our programme as efficiently as possible while offering the high levels of personal support to our award holders that are a key feature of our schemes. We continue to work to improve their cost effectiveness including the use of internet and web technologies and teleconferencing for selection panels and more details are given in section 14.2.


5.1  Background

  Science education today has a dual role to play in ensuring the UK's future prosperity. It must encourage the training of sufficient numbers of scientists and engineers for the UK to compete successfully in the global market. It must also provide the right environment and means for all young people to be equipped to engage critically with the increasing number of science related issues which will affect the lives of citizens in the 21st century. The Royal Society is committed to promoting an education system that is able to fulfil this dual role effectively. We seek to do this through education policy advice to government, projects that bring young people and scientists together, and an innovative programme of activities with matching resources to support teachers and enthuse pupils.

5.2  Advisory work

  The Royal Society seeks to influence what and how science and mathematics are taught in school. Drawing upon the expertise of the Society's education committee and a large network of contacts within the education world, the Society offers advice to government and its agencies on a wide range of science and mathematics education policy issues, from the structure of the curriculum to teacher supply and support. The education committee has members drawn from the secondary school and further and higher education sectors and also includes observers from OFSTED, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

  The Society's advisory work on education policy can be divided into three types:

    —  representation on key education working groups of government and its agencies eg DfES and QCA;

    —  responses to consultations by government departments and Parliamentary select committees; and

    —  proactive policy studies resulting in published reports.

5.3  Representation on key education committees and working groups

  The Society seeks representation on government working groups we consider to be working to improve science and mathematics education. Currently, the Society is represented on the DfES Key Stage 3 Science Strategy working group and the QCA groups on "Keeping school science in step with the 21st Century" and "Science Curriculum: ongoing monitoring". Membership of these groups allows the Society to influence policy at an early stage of formulation. In addition to these formal working groups, the Society often attends ad hoc meetings called by government or other organisations to discuss specific issues in science education.

5.4  Responses to consultations

  The Society is often able to present its views to the government and its agencies through its representation on relevant working groups, reducing the need for the Society to respond to formal consultations. This, coupled with the pressures on staff time (our education team consists of three staff), has led the Society to adopt the strategy of only responding to consultations about issues of extreme importance, such as the inquiry into 14-19 science education by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

5.5  Policy studies

  The education committee identifies topics on which the Society should initiate studies. The Society usually undertakes one major study each year, sometimes in partnership with other organisations (eg learned societies, the Association for Science Education, etc), and contracts out any additional research needed for the study. Recent reports have included the teaching of geometry to 11-19 year-olds and school science technicians (which is now influencing the national numeracy strategy) and school science technicians (the recommendations of which are being taken forward by the DfES in consultation with the Society). Given limited resources, the Society concentrates on areas where we believe we can have greatest impact.

  The documents are published and made widely available to policy-makers, schools and universities and other interested parties. Once a document is published, the Society continues to use its influence to push for the implementation of recommendations contained in the report—the desired outcome being an improvement in UK science and mathematics education. Further details can be found in Appendix 5.

5.6  Future education policy advisory activities

  During 2002-03, the Society expects to respond to the DfES consultation on 14-19 education and to undertake a project on assessment in school science, considered to be the most contentious issue in science education today. The project will include a seminar for educationalists, teachers and scientists, the proceedings of which will be used to produce a consultation document for circulation among the wider education and scientific community.

  In March 2002, the Society and the Joint Mathematical Council launched the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME). This body, bringing together schoolteachers, lecturers from universities and colleges, and educationalists, will seek to give the mathematics community a "single voice" on education policy issues. ACME is based at the Society and funded from private sources.

5.7  Educational programmes

  The Society is currently pursuing three major activities to support and enliven science in schools.

  The partnership grants scheme, launched in 2000, has so far awarded nearly £170k to 107 schools, giving about 12,000 pupils and their teachers the opportunity to work with scientists or engineers on exciting projects. From ongoing evaluation of the scheme, we have found that over two-thirds of projects have created new partnerships between schools and scientists, and 86 per cent of the teachers feel their pupils have gained better practical and thinking skills and more interest in science because of the scheme. Of the projects funded so far, more than half have involved primary schools and 95 per cent are in state sector schools. The scheme is funded jointly by the Mercers' Company, ExxonMobil and our PGA and complements the government's science and engineering ambassadors programme.

  The Society is also working jointly with Sheffield Hallam University on the Acclaim Project, designed to raise young people's awareness of cutting edge scientific research in this country and of the achievements of UK scientists. The Acclaim project is funded jointly from private sources and our PGA, and among future developments of the project under consideration is a focus on scientists from the ethnic minorities as role models.

  A new website ( was launched by the Society in 2001, aiming to stimulate the interest and excitement of 16-19 year-olds in modern scientific research. The first phase of the website's development, approved by the National Grid for Learning, features an interactive guide to the Society's Summer Science Exhibition (see Section 6.2), where visitors can tour exhibits of cutting edge research, find out about some of the scientists taking part and express their opinions on topical issues in science. The second phase of development, to be launched later this year, will feature the latest news in science, with reliable information on issues about science in society. This will be funded from a combination of PGA and private sources.

  Further details of the full range of the Society's educational programmes are given in Appendix 5.


6.1  Background

  The Society recognises the importance of encouraging communication between scientists and the public. Using our network of the best UK researchers who offer free and enthusiastic support for our work, our excellent venue and our contacts with non-scientists, we are extending our science communication activity. We hold major events which allow the public to find out about the latest scientific advances and to consider with scientists the consequences their work may have for society. Our strategies for engaging the public is focused on four main activities.

    —  a Summer Science Exhibition

    —  a series of public lectures and discussions, featuring leading scientists presenting and discussing the latest developments in their fields;

    —  an innovative Science in Society programme, exploring new ways of encouraging dialogue between scientists and the wider public; and

    —  a media relations operation, run through our privately funded press office, to raise the profile of all the Society's activities and to highlight the achievements of UK science.

6.2  Summer Science Exhibition

  The Summer Science Exhibition is the Royal Society's main public event of the year displaying exciting advances in research. It provides a unique opportunity for leading scientists to discuss their work with a range of people and answer questions about their work. Around 3,000 people, drawn from the public, schoolchildren and their teachers, the media, policy-makers and scientists visited the exhibition over three days in July 2001. In 2000 the exhibition was also held in Edinburgh and we will continue to take the exhibition to venues outside London on a periodic basis subject to funding being available.

  Participation in the exhibition is highly competitive and the selection criteria are interactivity, general appeal and, most importantly, the excellence of the science. The exhibits this year include an investigation into a new radar system that can track insects at altitude, the latest developments in cryptography and visual search strategies.

  The Society takes full advantage of this presentation of exciting science to bring together leading scientists, parliamentarians, government officials and other policy-makers, industrialists and the media at evening receptions (soirees). These occasions provide excellent networking opportunities for many of those who are determining the future of UK science engineering and technology. Some of these receptions are devoted to the education sector with teachers and educationalists among the guests. The cost of the soirees is met entirely from the Society's private funds.

6.3  Public programme of meetings, lectures and debates

  The Society encourages leading scientists to interact with the public directly and explain their exciting work through public lectures, meetings and discussions. The Society is uniquely placed to achieve this through its extensive network of Fellows and research appointees, and its events always contain opportunities for debate. The public programme consists of a variety of events addressing scientific related topics. In the past year, the programme has included events about:

    —  the latest developments in contemporary science

    —  science and public policy.

    —  the interface between the sciences and arts;

    —  the history of science.

  Several of these events were staged at venues other than the Society's premises, featuring 36 speakers and in partnership with seven other organisations. For example, in March 2001, the Society in partnership with the Wellcome Trust held a public debate about how people might be affected in the future by the successful mapping of the human genome. In December 2001, the Society organised at short notice a public discussion meeting on bioterrorism, in partnership with the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The Society recognises that public events held at other venues can attract a different audience. For this reason, it has recently worked with organisations such as Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Cheltenham science festival and the annual British Association festivals held around the country. The Society also hosts the UK's premier prize for science communication, the Michael Faraday Award. Recent winners include Sir Harry Kroto, Lord Robert Winston and Baroness Susan Greenfield.

6.4  Science in Society programme

  The programme was established in 2000 in response to growing concerns among scientists that the wider public no longer trusted them particularly on issues such as BSE and genetically modified crops. A thorough investigation of this "crisis of confidence" in science was presented in the report of the inquiry into "Science and Society" by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, published in February 2000. The Science in Society programme is designed to ensure that the Royal Society is in a position to demonstrate leadership in developing a dialogue between scientists and the wider public.

  The aims of the Science in Society programme are to:

    —  help restore public confidence in science;

    —  find and develop new, interesting, widespread and effective ways of communicating with the public;

    —  make sure that the voice of the public is heard when discussing and shaping science policy; and

    —  take a leading role in promoting national science policy debate.

  The programme committee is chaired by Sir Paul Nurse, Director General for Science at Cancer Research UK and joint holder of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and has wide membership (see Appendix 6 as an example of the makeup of some of our committees).

  The main activities that have been carried out for the programme between its inception in May 2001 and March 2002 are:

    —  public dialogue meetings in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff;

    —  a National Forum for Science in London;

    —  a pairing scheme for research scientists and parliamentarians; and

    —  an online dialogue facility.

  Dialogue meetings involved scientists, representatives of non-governmental organisations and other stakeholder groups, and members of the public who were invited through advertisements in local newspapers. The meetings sought understanding and agreement about the underlying causes for the deterioration in public confidence in areas of science and scientists themselves, and to identify ways in which this trend might be reversed. The Forum in March was attended by parliamentarians, senior government advisers (including five chief scientists), journalists, representatives from non-governmental organisations, scientists, participants from the regional meetings, representatives of religious groups, and members of the wider public. They considered aspects of the central theme "do we trust today's scientists?" The major outcome from the Forum was a 30 point "action plan" drawn up by the participants, designed to restore public confidence in science. The Society is currently evaluating the Forum and discussing ways of implementing key elements of the action plan.

  Other aspects of the programme include the MP pairing scheme which is now being evaluated, the Science in Society web site which provides opportunities for the public to interact with the Society over topical issues. The programme also impacts on other aspects of the Society's work particularly on the ways we consult the public and stakeholder groups in preparing advisory reports. The programme is funded over five years by a £1 million grant from the Kohn Foundation.

6.5  Media and public relations

  The Society has increased its investment in media relations over the past few years to raise the profile of our activities and of UK science in general, and to encourage more scientists to engage with the media. This includes the running costs of the press office, the arrangement of press conferences and briefings for the Society's activities, the production of the Society's corporate magazine "Excellence in Science", the preparation of a range of publicity materials, including the annual "Review of the Year", and the development and maintenance of the Society's website. The Society also provides funding for young scientists to develop their media and communication skills.

  The work of the Society's press office is entirely funded from private sources, but includes the promotion of activities funded from PGA. Since the controversy over GM foods, the Society's press office has been very active in fielding credible spokespersons to provide authoritative and independent views on a range of policy issues of public concern and interest, such as cloning, depleted uranium and nuclear power. It has sought to publicise widely the Society's advice to government and agencies on policy issues, as well as our programmes funded from PGA and private sources, and the achievements of the UK scientific community in general.

  The Society has improved its contacts within the print, broadcast and new media and through them has targeted a wide cross-section of the UK public. It has worked co-operatively with The Daily Telegraph, the Today programme, BBC4 and The Sun to encourage their audiences and readerships to participate in the Society's activities, such as a public meeting on the consequences of sequencing the human genome.

  The Society's presence on the web has increased significantly over the last two years since the re-launch of the corporate website. The Society now reaches a wide audience through five microsites, each with its own unique function in fulfilling its plethora of roles. The last year has seen hits on the corporate website double to more than two million per month, with our key audiences residing in the US, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia and Germany. Future web developments include the addition of further interactive features on the sc1 education website incorporating an online version of the 2002 Summer Science Exhibition and the creation of a microsite showcasing innovative science supported by the Royal Society. The internet plays a key role in stimulating dialogue and increasing the dissemination of information, and the Royal Society's websites strive to provide scientists, government, the media and public with access to reliable information at different levels, facilitating the Society's objectives, through the continual development of innovative online resources.

  Since 1999, the Society has offered courses in media training and communication skills to its post-doctoral research fellows and those funded by other bodies. Professional trainers from outside the Royal Society are used for these events. Of the 176 scientists (52 per cent of whom were women) who took part in these courses, 159 were funded by the Society and 17 were supported by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In 2002-03, the budget for these training courses will be £15k from PGA and £50k from private sources. The Society is seeking further funding from private donors to allow the training courses to run during the following years. The welcome additional funding by EPSRC of communication aspects of the projects it finances presents new opportunities and we have already had discussions with EPSRC over this.


7.1  Background

  The Society's core objectives include that of providing independent and authoritative advice on policy for science and on scientific aspects of public policy in the UK and worldwide. Over the next three years we plan to develop further the high profile that our policy work enjoys, to provide an energetic lead in generating independent policy advice at EU level, and to extend our skill in handling policy issues that attract wide public interest and controversy. The Society has maintained a long tradition of providing independent non-partisan scientific advice to government. For example, in 1772, during the height of the American War of Independence, the government asked the Society for advice about the best form of lightning conductors to protect buildings and stores of gunpowder magazines. A committee of Fellows, including Benjamin Franklin, concluded that sharp pointed conductors were better than blunt ones. However, when King George III learned that the Society had backed a design favoured by the American rebel Franklin, he put pressure on the Society's President, Sir John Pringle, to overturn the decision. Pringle reputedly responded by saying that his duty and inclination would always induce him to execute His Majesty's orders to the utmost of his power but that he found it impossible to reverse the laws and operations of Nature. The Society continues this valuable independent advisory role today.

7.2  Conduct of science policy projects

  Our science advice work is intended to influence the policy process, so that policy-makers are aware of the scientific dimensions of the issues they are tackling and can take account of the best possible scientific understanding when forming their views. Although policy projects take many forms they all begin with careful preparation designed to establish whether the issue concerned does indeed have a scientific dimension capable of evidence-based analysis, whether there is a clear target audience that could be influenced by the project, whether we have a proper understanding of stakeholders' concerns and whether the project can be completed in time to influence the policy process.

  Most projects involve a working group of some kind to produce a report or organise a conference or workshop. The membership of such a group is critical. The Society exercises care in selecting members to ensure that the full spread of relevant scientific and other opinion and experience is represented. In general, a project focused primarily on establishing scientific evidence will tend to be conducted by a group of scientific experts while a project that involves making recommendations about policy options is more likely also to include non-scientist members.

  Working groups are composed of a mixture of Fellows and non-Fellows according to the expertise needed. For instance, the Royal Society working group that produced the recent report on health effects of depleted uranium consisted of 11 members, of whom only two were Fellows, and the Royal Society working group that produced the February 2002 report on genetically modified plants for food use had 10 members, of whom six were Fellows.

  All of the Society's science policy reports are based on evidence—preferably publicly available evidence such as scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Working groups consider the available evidence relevant to their formal terms of reference and in some cases may issue a public call for evidence to ensure that the widest range of views is obtained. Where appropriate, working groups also invite selected parties to give oral evidence and make use of our website to solicit further inputs. Reports make clear the evidence on which their conclusions are based.

  In those cases where there is a marked public interest in the issue, the Society is developing its processes for positively enabling all those with a stake to engage with the project. For example, in the latest GM project eight individuals and 13 organisations responded to a call for written evidence, seven individuals and representatives of concerned organisations gave oral evidence to the working group, and summaries of these sessions were placed on the web. The work on depleted uranium involved 28 written submissions, meetings with 31 individuals and organisations, an open meeting with 80 participants to discuss the findings from the part I report (a summary of the meeting was published on our the website), and five subgroups working with outside experts to review the latest science developments in detail.

  Our current major project on infectious diseases in livestock, which was one of three inquiries commissioned by the government following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, has so far involved 380 written submissions, site visits to Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway and Wales, an open public meeting in Carlisle with 100 participants and much media interest, meetings with 50 other individuals and organisations, and three subgroups working with outside experts. The evidence will be published on our website when the main report is published.

  Our approach to policy work is continuously evolving and for example the Science Advice section is working closely with the Science in Society committee to develop and implement best practice in involving stakeholders in policy work.

  Reports are written in a manner appropriate to their target audience. This includes length, technical content and linguistic complexity. The type and scale of dissemination activities are tailored to each individual project. These may include publication of a document, both in printed format and on the Society's website; press conferences and/or press briefings; briefings for parliamentarians and other policy-makers; public meetings; extensive targeted mailings of summary versions; articles placed in relevant publications, including the national and scientific press; private meetings with ministers and other targets; and seminars.

  Formal statements or reports published in the Society's name are subjected to a review process and approved by the Society's Council. In the last 12 months, the Society has published 10 major policy statements and reports, in addition to numerous submissions, on issues ranging from the use of genetically modified animals to the health hazards of depleted uranium munitions. These reports are listed in Appendix 7.

  Science policy projects are funded from private and public sources, according to context but the source of funding never influences the conduct or outcome of a science policy project.

7.3  Science policy work in relation to government and parliament

  It can sometimes be difficult to identify tangible evidence of the Society's influence on a particular policy, as government departments and select committees are not obliged to respond directly to the Society about its advice, even if they intend to act upon it. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on the Scientific Advisory System recommended that "Government should be aware that we will consider using our powers to insist on a memorandum from the Government responding in full to the recommendations made in reports by the Learned Bodies."

  Nevertheless, some recent examples of the direct influence of our work include:

    —  following publication of the Society's second report on depleted uranium in March 2002, the Ministry of Defence launched its proposed research programme, which was described as being "in line with the recommendations of the Royal Society's report";

    —  after publication of our report on nuclear energy, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has this year been consulting on whether the Society should have a formal role in advising the government on the management of radioactive waste;

    —  our work on stem cells and cloning influenced debate both within and outside Parliament before the relevant Act was extended to cover research on human embryonic stem cells.

  The Society responds to consultations carried out by a number of select committees and we maintain regular links with the science and technology committees of both Houses.

7.4  Science policy advisory work with other academies and learned bodies

  The Society tends to tackle policy issues that span more than one field of science, engineering and technology and thus lie beyond the expertise of any individual learned society or professional association. As the expertise of the Fellowship covers a broad range of disciplines the Society is uniquely placed to assemble strong working groups to tackle cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary issues. On some issues, however, the Society has found it more effective to tackle issues jointly with other UK academies.

  We provide the secretariat for the National Academies Policy Analysis Group (NAPAG) which brings together the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences. NAPAG has tackled broad themes such as research funding, intellectual property rights, and energy and the environment, producing influential policy reports. More recently NAPAG has tended to operate as a forum for informal discussion of mutually important policy issues between the Academies.

  We have also published two major energy policy documents with the Royal Academy of Engineering focusing on the case for keeping the nuclear option open in the UK, and on the content of the European Commission's Directive on renewable energy. Similarly, the Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences jointly published an assessment of the current state of knowledge about transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (eg BSE and scrapie) which concluded that there was a very small theoretical risk of meat being contaminated with BSE in a few abattoirs. As a result the Food Standards Agency issued closure orders for the affected abattoirs.

7.5  Funding and future priorities for science policy advisory work

  In 2002-03, the budget for science policy advisory work is expected to be £268k. Of this money, £100k will be allocated from PGA, £40k to cover the costs of specific projects and £60k to fund a full-time manager's post with overheads.

  In 2003-04 and for the following two years, this budget is expected to rise to £339k. The PGA component will be £150k, which includes a bid of £50k from the spending review to support the development of public consultation activities carried out in connection with the Society's science policy advisory projects. The private component of the budget will rise to £189k of which £48k will fund specific projects, £3k will support the work of the Society's policy advisory committees and £138k will fund three full-time manager posts. The Science Advice Section has a core complement of 12 full-time staff, mostly supported from the Society's private funds.


  The Society promotes and supports scholarship by holding discussion meetings about cutting edge science, producing world-class academic journals, maintaining an internationally renowned library and archives and awarding prestigious medals and prizes.

8.1  Scientific meetings

  One of the primary reasons for the foundation of the Society in 1660 was to provide an opportunity for scientists to gather and discuss their ideas and theories. The Society today maintains that proud tradition by holding up to 12 major scientific meetings each year, to advance knowledge of a particular area of rapidly developing science, to bring together scientists across disciplines and from different countries, and to allow students and other scientists to attend high-level scientific meetings at no cost. Proposals are assessed on scientific excellence and timeliness, with priority given to new or emerging areas of research. The Society actively encourages organisers to include the best international speakers in the programme. The papers and discussions from these meetings are subjected to peer review and published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

The Society recognises that some scientific issues, particularly those with particular social or political significance, may arise suddenly and that "fast track" discussion meetings, organised at relatively short notice, may be desirable. For this reason, the Society has set aside the resources to hold up to two "fast track" meetings per year. One such meeting, on stem cells, was held in June 2001 as a contribution to the inquiry by a House of Lords committee. Another brought together 300 leading experts and other participants from around the world to debate the controversial issue of the origin of HIV and AIDS. The meeting attracted worldwide media interest because new data was made public for the first time to counter claims that the start of the AIDS epidemic was linked to polio vaccinations. In addition, the Society is developing plans for a regular series of meetings and associated events that bring together scientists and representatives from the financial sector.

8.2  Publishing world class academic journals

  The Society publishes five internationally respected journals, including "Philosophical Transactions", the world's oldest scientific periodical, which first appeared in 1665. The titles are:

    —  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences,

    —  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences,

    —  Proceedings of the Royal Society: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences,

    —  Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences,

    —  Notes and Records, dealing with the history of science, engineering, medicine and technology.

  As the world's longest established scientific publisher, the main purpose of producing these journals is to enable scientists to disseminate new findings to a wide audience and to put into the public domain new information about science, scientists and the history of science. The journals make maximum use of electronic production and delivery and the Society is recognised as a leader in the provision of editorial services. The income generated in relation to publications, primarily through subscriptions, is sufficient to fund the editorial and production operations, and creates a significant surplus that is invested in other areas of the Society's activities. This surplus is expected to be £293k in 2001-02.

8.3  Maintaining an internationally renowned library and archives

  The Society's library is a world class resource for the history and development of science in the UK. The library is open to the public, receiving more than 2,500 visitors last year and dealing with over 4,500 enquiries. The collections date back to the foundation of the Society in 1660. Among its many strengths are internationally important collections of 17th and 18th century scientific books, journals and archives, which provide an unrivalled record of the development of modern science over the last 350 years. Since 1660, the Society has maintained detailed records of its activities as well as creating, from its own material, by gifts, or by purchase, an impressive collection of manuscripts, including Sir Isaac Newton's seminal publication "Principia Mathematica".

  The collection includes Fellows' correspondence, notebooks, scientific papers and personal papers, which record their experimental and scholarly research. In addition, the library hosts artefacts of historical importance, as well as portraits and etchings of individual Fellows. The library has nearly 70,000 books, 3,200 journal titles and 2,000 feet of archive material. A key objective of the Society is to increase access to these collections for scholars across the UK and worldwide. The Society's Sackler Archive Resource is a unique database of biographical information about Fellows since 1660. It is available online together with our catalogue of books and journals. The Society also works in partnership with other bodies and has led the "Web of Science History" consortium project to give online access to lists of scientists' papers.

  The Society provides funding for one or two day meetings on the history of science and manages grant applications for projects on the history of science. It currently sponsors three major projects, the Banks archive project, the Charles Darwin correspondence project and the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists.

8.4  Recognising excellence through medals and awards

  The Society awards prize lectures and medals in recognition of excellence in science, engineering and technology. There are currently 24 such prizes, and all of the costs arising from these are met from private funds, most of which have been bequeathed to the Society for that explicit purpose.

  In 2003, the Society will introduce a medal commemorating the work of Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover the structure of DNA. This annual award, funded from PGA, will consist of a specially designed medal and a grant of £30k to use for the recipient's research. The winner, likely to be a mid-career scientist, will be expected to undertake activities as part of his or her award to promote science, engineering and technology to girls and women.


  In addition to its own activities and the support we provide for individual projects conducted by other bodies, the Society provides funding for three other organisations that play a key role in science education and engaging the public in scientific issues. The Society gives grants to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the British Association for the Advancement of Science and supports COPUS from its PGA funds.

  The Society's role is to ensure that PGA funds are administered in the most effective way and that proper evaluations are carried out of how the sums are used. This role has been established through the Society's track record in distributing and accounting for money on behalf of the Office of Science and Technology.

Royal Institution of Great Britain

  The Royal Society has supported the Royal Institution's young persons programme since 1976. Today, the annual programme of about 100 lectures is designed to complement science teaching in the classroom and covers all age ranges from primary to sixth-form. In 2000, the Royal Society initiated an independent evaluation of the programme to seek improvements. The review identified a number of ways of revitalising the programme and making its operation more efficient. In 2002-03, the Society expects to increase the grant for the programme from £94k to £100k, and has bid for further rises to £120k in 2004-05 through the spending review.

British Association for the Advancement of Science

  The Society has provided an annual grant to the British Association since 1973. The grant is currently split into £135k for core funding, £50k to be divided between youth activities and the annual festival. An internal audit of the Association was carried out in 2001-02 at the Society's behest and, as a result, the procedures for accounting for, reviewing and evaluating activities funded from PGA are being tightened.


  COPUS was set up in 1985 by the Royal Society, the British Association and the Royal Institution. Financial support has always been provided through the Royal Society. In 2001, a fundamental review of the aims of COPUS was completed. As a result, COPUS was re-constituted as a body that is advised by a Council representing a wide variety of bodies involved in science communication.


    "The idea, and it is an admirable one, is that there is a recognised system for younger female scientists to engage the support and advice of the battle-hardened".

  Baroness Susan Greenfield commenting on the mentoring scheme for Royal Society's Dorothy Hodgkin research fellows in The Independent March 2001.

10.1  Background

  Although many women in UK study for first and higher degrees in science, engineering and technology, there is steady drop-out at each career stage up to professorial level resulting in only 8.9 per cent professors in the UK. Thus, there is a relatively small pool from which the Society can find women with suitable levels of achievement for nomination to the Fellowship. It is this situation that needs to change if the number of female Fellows is to be significantly increased in future.

  In March 2001, the Royal Society held a meeting entitled "How can the number of women in senior SET posts in the UK be increased?" It was attended by women scientists at all levels from junior post doctoral researchers to Fellows of the Royal Society. A number of barriers to women's progression to the top were identified and many wide-ranging recommendations for change emerged. The Society is trying to take forward those recommendations relevant to us. The meeting found there to be general lack of awareness among both men and women in academia about gender and equal opportunity issues. The following is a summary of what the conference discussed.

  To improve the retention of women in science, there is a need to create a culture in research departments that values diversity, supports flexible working and manages staff according to best practice including appraisal on the basis of achievement not hours worked. Mentoring and networking can help to overcome feelings of isolation and lack of self-confidence experienced by some women. Senior academics need to be more proactive in encouraging and actively supporting more women to apply for posts and for research funding.

  Research is a very competitive field of work, demanding great time and effort, not only on the research itself, but also in writing numerous applications to get grant funding. There is a long-hours culture in science as there is in many other professions in the UK. There are few opportunities for women to work part-time (which many women with families wish to do) as it is difficult to maintain the volume of research required for success. Women still often take primary responsibility for child and elder care and thus find difficulty in balancing career and domestic demands on their time.

  Many of the difficulties in career advancement faced by women are also faced by men, such as lack of a career structure for contract researchers (as opposed to lecturers etc.) in academia. This makes returning to work after a career break difficult for those who do not have substantive posts. Relatively low salaries do not make academic research careers as attractive as some other professions in the UK. The pace of change in research makes keeping up to date difficult during extended career breaks. Although new methods of communication make keeping up with published research easier, returners are often faced with having to develop new skills for which training is often not readily available.

  Although there has not been much research in this area, it seems inevitable that taking a break leads to a reduced track record of publications that is potentially damaging to career prospects. Some funding bodies only take account of the past five years' publications when assessing applications for funding, thus discriminating against returners. Age limit restrictions on eligibility for research funding or posts discriminate against returners and late-starters (women who go to university after raising their families).

  Women are often less mobile and they may find it more difficult to gain experience of working abroad or to move between different institutions in the UK in order to progress up the career ladder. Women with families may find it more difficult to attend conferences abroad with the result that they are less likely to achieve an international reputation and hence their research papers are less likely to be widely cited. Others may find their career progression disrupted by having to move their work more often than they might wish if their husband or partner moves his/her job beyond commuting distance.

  High quality childcare is relatively scarce and expensive in the UK and academic salaries are lower relative to many other professions that have been successful in retaining women, such as medicine and law. Women, particularly those with more than one child, may find that almost all their salary after tax is swallowed up in childcare and other domestic costs.

10.2  Actions by the Royal Society

  In 1995, the Society set up its Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship scheme to retain the most able women in science at the early career stage when many drop out by providing a recognised step to an independent research career. The scheme provides a full salary, plus annual research expenses, on flexible terms to allow career breaks/part-time working for recent postdoctoral researchers. The scheme is open to men and women but it is gratifying that many women have considered what these fellowships offer is particularly attractive (about 80 per cent of applicants have been women). Out of the 80 fellowships awarded 76 have been to women. Although the number of fellowships remains relatively small we continue to seek additional funds from public and private sources to extend the scheme.

  Since 1983, 153 of 671 (23 per cent) of the Society's more senior university research fellows (URFs) have been female (the success rate for women applicants is the same at 7.9 per cent as for male applicants but fewer women apply). 79 of those women have now left the scheme and at least 20 per cent have become full professors. The cost of a Dorothy Hodgkin award (including research expenses and administration) is about £43k pa and for each URF about £53k p.a. Thus our current annual budget for our female URFs and DHFs alone is £5.3 million (£1.4 million + £3.9 million for Dorothy Hodgkin and female URFs respectively) representing a very substantial investment in supporting women in scientific areas. Two out of six of the new research professors appointed in 2001 are women as are five out of 19 current industry fellows. Of course many other women receive support from the Society's numerous other schemes including various grants and international awards. The Society is also involved with the Athena Project whose advisory committee is chaired by one of our Vice-Presidents, Professor Dame Julia Higgins.

  Other steps the Society has taken to promote the interests of women in science include:

    —  avoiding age limits and focussing on years of research experience for eligibility for funding;

    —  encouraging more women to apply for research appointments and grants (by using existing ones as role models);

    —  offering flexible working conditions to all its research fellows (maternity leave, part-time working, up to two years working abroad) and additional support for women, if required (eg a contribution to childcare costs during field trips away from home);

    —  allowing conference grant holders to claim for childcare costs during the conference;

    —  running a mentoring scheme for the Dorothy Hodgkin fellows and providing training for them and their mentors;

    —  providing individual career guidance by staff and Fellows of the Royal Society to research appointees (also available to male research appointees) and opportunities to network with other people in science, particularly with FRSs;

    —  continuing to promote the implementation of the 1995 Concordat on contract research careers;

    —  working closely with other organisations such as WISE, AWiSE, WES, OST's SET for Women Unit, the Athena Project to promote the interests of women in science;

    —  seeking funding (from government and elsewhere) to support the Athena project in producing and distributing a comprehensive good gender practice guide for universities;

    —  seeking funding for a new scheme to promote career mobility in science for people who have to relocate their research to accommodate career moves by their spouse/partner (open to men and women but expected to benefit women as they are more likely to be the "following partner");

    —  drawing attention to women's achievements in science through features in publications such as Excellence in Science and on the Society's web site and promoting successful women as role models;

    —  broadening and simplifying the nominations process for election to the Fellowship to encourage more women candidates;

    —  wherever possible ensuring that women are represented in Royal Society activities including strategy and policy making, formulation of science advice, selection of new Fellows, research appointments and grants, scientific discussion meetings, education programmes and communicating science;

    —  setting up means of keeping up-to-date records of women's participation in our activities and tracking progress;

    —  in September 2000, a part-time senior member of staff (Dr Helen Pask) was appointed to co-ordinate the Society's efforts in this area.

10.3  Conclusion

  The Society has full recognised that there is a problem with the small number of female scientists who reach senior positions in the UK and has been running the innovative Dorothy Hodgkin scheme for a number of years. However, we are very aware that more needs to be done and with this in mind last year we convened a conference to identify the issues and attempt to specify solutions. Following the conference the Society has embarked on a comprehensive programme of action to try to increase the number of women who remain in science and reach senior positions. This represents substantial investment by the Society but we recognise that the solutions we are implementing will take time to achieve the desired results.


  Although the Royal Society's offices are located in London, our activities and funding are spread throughout the UK. Within UK higher education, the Fellows of the Royal Society are located in 46 institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and our researchers hold posts at 37 universities, including Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Coventry and the University of Portsmouth (see Appendix 9). The recipients of our grants for research projects and international exchanges are also distributed widely across the UK.

  Even though many of the Society's lectures and discussion meetings are held at our premises they still attract people from all over the UK. For example, in 2001, parties of post-16 students from schools based as far away from London as Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stafford, Derby, Yeovil and Taunton attended our Summer Science Exhibition. The Society also holds many events outside London. In the last 12 months, the Society's "Science in Society" programme has held regional dialogue meetings in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester, and a similar series of events are planned for the next year. We also held scientific prize lectures at the Universities in Edinburgh, Dundee, Cambridge, Manchester and Oxford and are organising public lectures for the science festivals in Leicester and Cheltenham.

  Our educational programmes reach schools throughout the UK. Our partnership grants scheme has distributed funds throughout the UK to 107 schools. These grants support innovative projects that bring together practising scientist and engineers with school pupils and teachers. For instance, secondary school pupils at Reepham High School in Norwich are working with BT on a computer controlled telescope and robotic dome, while 90 schoolchildren at Deeplish Primary School in Rochdale have undertaken a "Fit for Life" project with the University of Manchester that includes studying how the human heartbeat responds to exercise. The Acclaim project, carried out in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, has so far distributed more than 550 curriculum packs (including videos of the "Living Science" series) to English schools, representing about 15 per cent of secondary schools. The six scientists and engineers whose work is featured in the project have given talks to audiences of young people in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Salford and Sheffield.

  The Society is expanding its web programme, so that people can access information and give feedback to us, regardless of where they are. The Society now reaches a wide audience through five websites, each with its own unique function, such as our new sc.1 website which allows school pupils to take a virtual tour around the Summer Science Exhibition and find out more about the researchers and their work. Our corporate website records more than two million hits per month.

  However, the Society is keen to hold more activities outside London and draw upon the strengths of the UK's individual regions. We have submitted a bid through the spending review for an additional £250k per year from 2003-04 for an enhanced programme of regional events. These will include an expansion of the activities of the "Science in Society" programme involving the wider public, and measures to engage policy-makers in the devolved assemblies and regional bodies.


12.1  Election to the fellowship

  The cornerstone of the Society is the Fellowship and our high reputation throughout the world is based on the scientific credentials and eminence of our Fellows (FRS). Throughout our history the Society has promoted excellence and Fellows have included: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick and Stephen Hawking. We currently have 65 Nobel Laureates (including two Peace Prize Winners) and Fellows hold many other equally prestigious awards. The main criterion for election as an FRS is scientific excellence.

  Unusually for a national academy we do not restrict our Fellowship to British nationals. We draw much more widely and elect Fellows who hold any Commonwealth nationality or Irish nationality as well as non-Commonwealth nationals resident in Commonwealth countries. For those not otherwise eligible, we have a category of Foreign Member. From the foundation of the Society, staff are not eligible for election (or, if already an FRS, have to relinquish their Fellowship).

  Fellows of the Society are elected for life and pay a fee for which they are entitled to use FRS, have the right to vote, to serve on the Council and to participate in electing new Fellows. All other aspects of the Society's work are open equally to non-Fellows and Fellows.

  The number of new nominations made in any year is unlimited. The nominations process was made easier last year by reducing the number of signatures required on a certificate of proposal from six Fellows to two (one proposer and one seconder) because it was felt that the larger number of signatures might discriminate against women, those in minority subjects or those in places with few existing Fellows. In addition, the President now writes to Vice-Chancellors and Heads of Research Councils to encourage them to put forward names, especially of women, and the Society undertakes to find a nominator and seconder. Furthermore, the Society has broadened the scope of candidates to encourage nomination and election of scientists, technologists and engineers whose major contribution to their subject has been other than through original research, for example by association, leadership or furtherance of science in a senior managerial or administrative capacity, or through science communication.

  The election process is extremely rigorous and is based on the scientific system of peer review. There are 10 subject committees (Sectional Committees) with a chair (currently two of whom are women) and up to 14 members. The membership of these changes entirely every third year by rotation to try to eliminate as far as possible any bias. Each candidate is considered by the relevant committee on the basis of a full curriculum vitae, a research resumé and their best scientific papers. Independent references are sought for those short-listed. Each committee submits its final short-list to the Royal Society Council (which is itself elected) which draws up a final list of up to 42 names for FRS and six Foreign Members, which is put to a ballot at a general meeting of the Fellowship. In any one cycle of elections 113 Fellows plus 21 Council members are involved in the sectional committee process. Candidates can remain on the list for seven years. If not elected in that time they can come back on the list after a break of three years and remain for a period of three years.

12.2  Profile of the Fellowship: age

  Fellows of the Royal Society are elected for life and the current Fellowship includes candidates who have been elected over the last 55 years (eg it includes a Fellow who was elected in 1946). There is no limit on the number of Fellows at any one time. However, the number of new Fellows elected each year is limited to no more than 42. As there are currently 1,203 Fellows, this means more than half were elected more than 15 years ago.

  About 60 per cent of current Fellows are age 65 or older. The average age of Fellows on election in recent years has been 55, which means that typically scientists are elected between their late forties and late fifties, although the current Fellowship includes one who was 29 years old when elected. Fellows are usually elected on the basis of work undertaken some time previously, since it can take a considerable period to build up a sufficient body of scientific work to justify election and to demonstrate whether the scientific work is indeed seminal. Thus current elections reflect the position in science at postdoctoral level in the 1970s and at professorial level now, and the Fellowship as a whole reflects the evolving profile of professorial academic staff over the last half century. In view of the small number of Fellows elected each year, the profile of the Fellowship changes only very gradually in response to changes at professorial level in universities.

12.3  Profile of the Fellowship: gender

  We have currently 1,203 Fellows, of whom 44 (3.7 per cent) are women. The proportion of women in the Fellowship is increasing slowly. Of 357 Fellows under 65 years of age and living in UK, 16 (4.5 per cent) are women. Of the 96 new candidates nominated for election to the Fellowship this year (2001-02), 11 (11.5 per cent) are women. Between 1990 and 1999, an average 8.4 per cent of male candidates and 9.5 per cent of female ones were elected. Thus women candidates are slightly more likely to be elected than men.

  The only direct analogue of the Royal Society in the UK is the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), whose Fellowship includes 1.3 per cent women. Women constitute 3.5 per cent of the Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in scientific disciplines. Learned societies have Fellows, and although these are not elected in the same way as those of the RS and the RAEng, it is worth noting that for example 3.3 per cent of the Fellows of the Royal Society of Chemistry and 2.5 per cent of the Fellows of the Institute of Physics are women.

  It is also difficult to compare our Fellowship with overseas organisations because many overseas academies include social sciences and some include clinical subjects. Of those not including social sciences and the humanities, the representation of women is as follows:
AcademyNumber of
Number of
female Fellows
% female
Australian Academy of Science311 134.2
Indian National Science Academy719 263.6
Royal Society of Canada (Science only) 919515.5
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences1,725 1076.2
US National Academy of Sciences347 195.5
French Academie des Sciences139 53.6
Royal Society of London1,203 443.7

  However, it remains true that the number of women Fellows in the Royal Society is disappointingly low and reflects the under-representation of women at senior levels of science in higher education and industry. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, of 7,317 full-time and part-time professors in science subjects at UK universities in 2000, 654 (8.9 per cent) were women. However, this overall total masks large differences between subjects. For instance, if nursing and paramedical studies are excluded (women constitute 57.1 per cent of professors in nursing and paramedical studies), the proportion of women professors in science subjects falls to 7.6 per cent. For comparison, 7.9 per cent of the new Fellows of the Royal Society elected since 1999 have been women.

  Therefore, the proportion of female Fellows now elected reflects the small percentage of female professors in university science subjects from which Fellows are elected. Although the under-representation of women is more acute in science disciplines, it is a serious problem at senior levels across the whole higher education sector.

12.4  Profile of the Fellowship: regional distribution

  Of 1,203 Fellows, 873 are based in the UK and Eire, and 93 are not currently affiliated to any institution or organisation. The distribution of the 684 in universities (including holders of emeritus posts) is as follows:
UniversitiesNumber % of Fellows
in UK
% of all
Cambridge15217.4 12.6
Oxford11112.7 9.2
London14116.2 11.7
England: other21925.1 18.2
Scotland434.9 3.6
Wales141.6 1.2
Northern Ireland and Eire4 0.50.3

  Altogether, Fellows are based at 45 universities in the UK and Eire, with the largest numbers outside London, Oxford and Cambridge being at the University of Edinburgh (28), University of Bristol (27), University of Southampton (17), University of Sussex (16), University of Leeds (15) and University of Manchester (14). The remaining 96 (11.0 per cent of Fellows based in the UK) are based in charities (eg Cancer Research UK), other academic institutions (eg MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) and companies (eg Microsoft Research UK Ltd).

  The Society believes that the distribution of Fellows reflects concentrations of world class researchers at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the colleges of London. For instance, of 17 UK Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Physics and Physiology or Medicine in the UK, seven (41.2 per cent) are based at these three institutions, compared to 46.3 per cent of UK-based Fellows of the Royal Society.

12.5  Profile of the Fellowship: ethnicity

  The Royal Society does not monitor for ethnicity, but as it elects Fellows from throughout the Commonwealth (including Commonwealth nationals wherever they are resident and non-Commonwealth resident in Commonwealth countries), as well as Foreign Members, the Society's Fellowship draws from a diverse ethnic base.

  There is no official comprehensive record of the ethnicity of UK higher education staff in UK universities. However, a study of a sample of 6,355 professors in science subjects carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency found that 6,135 (97 per cent) classified themselves as of white ethnicity.

12.6  Contribution of the Fellows to the Society

  In contrast to academies overseas, where some even pay their Fellows a stipend, Fellows of the Royal Society have to pay a contribution. It is currently set at £164 pa (with reductions for aged over 65), which entitles them to vote, serve on Council, etc. This provides an income of about £150k pa for the Society. Moreover, the President, Vice Presidents and other Fellows contribute enormously to our activities, giving their time willingly and without remuneration for the public good. Since they are generally the world experts in their field and have substantial experience of public life, this represents a priceless asset for the Society and, indeed, for the UK scientific community. Fellows serve on committees, organise and give lectures and scientific meetings throughout the country, advise on and write much of the Society's output of expert advice, represent UK science at home and overseas, display and explain their science to general audiences and perhaps the most onerous and least exciting activity: help with the peer review of the Society's publicly and privately-funded grants and fellowship programmes. This resource provided by the Fellows is one of the reasons why the Society can undertake such a wide range of activities, so efficiently and effectively. There is, of course, much expertise outside the Fellowship, and the Society benefits greatly from the willingness of those outside the Fellowship no less than those inside to give of their time and experience.


13.1  Governance

  The Royal Society is a Royal Chartered body and a registered charity whose trustees are The Council. The Council, comprising twenty-one Fellows, including a President and four Vice-Presidents, is elected annually by the Fellowship. There is a full-time secretariat headed by the Executive Secretary who is the Accounting Officer for the Parliamentary Grant-in-Aid (PGA).

  Under the overall supervision of Council the Society's policy is determined by the Strategy Policy Board, comprising the President, Vice-Presidents and Executive Secretary. Its finances are overseen by the Finance and General Purposes Committee chaired by the Treasurer. There is an audit committee and an investment advisory committee both of which have non-Fellows as members. The Society's accounts are produced according to the requirements of Charity Law and follows the Statement of Recommended Practice that are endorsed by the Charity Commission. They include a separate account for the PGA. They are externally audited and the Society also has internal auditors. Apart from minor out of pocket expenses (usually travel) none of the Trustees received any remuneration from the Society.

13.2  Finance

  The Royal Society derives its income from several sources, the most notable of which is its Parliamentary Grant in Aid (PGA) which comprises 66 per cent of the Society's annual budget and is designed to fund specifically identified programmes which are detailed in the Royal Society's bid to the spending review. These bids are submitted through the Office of Science and Technology (OST) and the Society is subject to the same disciplines as other publicly funded bodes such as the Research Councils. This includes detailed discussions of the Society's programmes with them, the monitoring of expenditure and compliance with government expenditure processes. As the PGA is provided for specific purposes agreed with OST, any substantial changes in the allocation of funds between programmes must be agreed with OST. The Royal Society keeps in close touch at both policy and working level with OST officials who meet staff quarterly to review progress on PGA funded programmes and other matters of common interest.

  The Royal Society is also funded from its own private resources that include income it generates itself, notably from its endowment and its publications. Additional income is provided by grants, donations and gifts from trusts, foundations, companies and private individuals. In many cases this income from donations and gifts represents income that would not otherwise enter the UK science base. In a similar way to PGA most of these resources are only available for specific initiatives.

  In broad terms for 2001-02 the Royal Society's income was £39.087 million and its expenditure was £36.184 million.

  A breakdown of expenditure by programme is given in Appendix 8.

13.3  Raising funds from non-government sources

  It has been our policy over many years to devote as much of our resources as possible directly to supporting UK science and scientists. In addition, in 1998, we launched a major fundraising campaign "Project Science" systematically to raise additional funds from non-governmental sources to fund scientific programmes. To date over £36.6 million has been pledged from private companies, corporations, trusts, foundations and Fellows of the Society.

  The Society is able to raise this money because of its substantial record and reputation as the world's premier scientific academy, its relentless pursuit of excellence and the confidence engendered by the knowledge that the UK government trusts it to administer a major annual grant so efficiently, effectively and economically. Perhaps the best example of this is the research merit awards scheme where £2 million of government money has attracted £2 million from Wolfson Foundation on the understanding that the Royal Society would administer the scheme. These private funds have had a significant impact on the UK science base.

13.4  Direct expenditure from private sources

  In the financial year 2001-02 the Society's budget anticipates a direct spend of £10.2 million in support of science, engineering and technology from private sources. The major proportion (£6.3 million) supported research scientists in universities including five professors, 16 research fellows and 17 industry fellows. The Society has raised money for 20 Dorothy Hodgkin fellows, which are aimed especially at encouraging women to remain in scientific careers. £2 million is devoted to the research merit awards to match the £2 million from government, £2.4 million was spent on encouraging the creation of the new research facilities within existing university buildings and the Society inaugurated the Brian Mercer Innovation Awards aimed at taking important scientific discoveries through to commercial exploitation.

  In support of international scientific collaboration, the Society spent £1.72 million to support over 100 postdoctoral fellowships, visiting professorships and joint projects.

  The Society has recently increased its activities aimed at encouraging better science education and communication with the public on scientific issues. With a grant from the Kohn Foundation of £1 million it has set up a new Science in Society programme and with grants from various trusts and corporate sources has expanded its education programme, including a grants scheme to put our best scientists in schools, to produce policy studies on science and maths and to produce educational resources for post-16 students. Total expenditure on these activities amounted to £1.1 million. The majority of the Society's science advice is funded privately amounting to over £200k pa in 2001-02.

  All the above figures exclude staffing and overhead costs.

13.5  Indirect expenditure from private sources

  The Royal Society's work leverages substantial additional funds into the science base in the UK that do not pass directly through the Society's books. Some are easy to quantify such as the Royal Society's Leverhulme programme which has just been renewed for a further four years with expenditure of £213k pa and the COPUS book prize which attracts sponsorship of approximately £200k. In 2001-02 our international exchange programme attracted £4.9 million from our partner academies and equivalent organisations countries throughout the world. Our support for Academia Europaea attracts £235k pa to that organisation and we have leveraged £75k from other European academies for the secretariat of the new European Academies' Science Advisory Council that is based at the Royal Society.

  In addition, we estimate that our 420 research appointees attract some £115.3 million over and above that provided by the Royal Society. This is based on a survey of 250 URFs when 124 received Research Council funding at an average of £288k per person; seven received EU funding at an average of £80k per person and 109 received funding from other sources at an average of £297k per person.

  Equally important is the support we receive from Fellows and from a whole range of other scientists and individuals who support our peer review processes, sit on committees, give internal and external lectures etc all without payment. Recent high profile non-scientific lecturers have included the playwright Michael Frayn and the artist David Hockney. It is impossible to quantify this support in its entirety but for peer review alone (given that the research councils pay an honorarium to their peer review panels) this represents support equivalent to over £40k pa.

  Thus the total amount the Society (including its research fellowship award holders) are able to call upon for 2001-02 from non PGA sources is £10.28 million direct expenditure, £723k third party expenditure and over £115.3 million indirect expenditure.


14.1  Management

  The Royal Society currently employs 125 members of staff (15 of whom are on fixed-term contacts), headed by the Executive Secretary who is appointed by Council. The Statutes specify that the Executive Secretary must not be a Fellow of the Royal Society. He or she acts as Accounting Officer for the Society's Parliamentary Grant-in-aid. The Executive Secretary is supported by a Senior Management team of 12 (five of whom are women).

  The Royal Society has a three-year business plan that provides a framework within which the Society operates. The plan, which is approved by Council, outlines our mission and objectives. The implementation of the plan is reviewed on a quarterly basis. In addition we review our programmes from time to time, the most recent being the review of the international programme completed in February 2002 by Ms Helen Meixner.

14.2  Minimising operating costs

  As a distributor of public money, the Society continually seeks to use its resources in the most effective way. In 1992 the proportion of the grant devoted to administration was 18 per cent by 1998 this was 9 per cent and in 2001-02 this has reduced to just under 6 per cent. On the currently agreed budget for 2002-03 it will further reduce to 5.6 per cent Over the last three years the Society has modernised its administration and financial control. It has installed a new financial and management information system at a cost of £250k from its own resources, it has completely redeveloped its databases for the administration of its grants at a cost of £100k again from its own funds and it has completed a pilot project to completely automate its grant application and processing system which will be operational in 2003. In the last three years it has invested over £300k of its own resources in IT infrastructure. These initiatives have allowed a substantial increase in the activities of the Society despite a steady reduction in the charges made to the PGA for operating costs. This represents both an increase in our cost efficiency and a partial subsidy of PGA operating costs from our private funds. We will continue to investigate ways to administer the PGA in the most cost effective manner possible while ensuring we do not compromise our ability to provide the level of staff support to recipients of our fellowships and other awards that is a key feature of our schemes.

14.3  The Society's premises—a resource for the scientific community

  Most developed countries and many developing countries have established academies of science and many have been modelled on the Royal Society it being the oldest academy in continuous existence. The majority of these academies are supported by their governments, in recognition of the importance of their role in the development and promotion of science. This support usually includes the provision of accommodation. In the case of the Royal Society, such support was first provided in 1778 when the government notified the Society that it was prepared to provide it with accommodation rent free in Somerset House, its third home since its formation. In 1856 the government purchased Burlington House to accommodate a number of scientific societies and the Treasury gave it to the Society in place of Somerset House. In 1963 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in Parliament that the Royal Society had been offered a 99 year lease on 6-9 Carlton House Terrace (its current premises) and that the Treasury would be responsible for paying the rent (currently £306k per annum plus external redecoration costs).

  The Royal Society's premises provide a facility in the heart of London, for the entire scientific community for conferences, exhibitions, lectures, seminars and meetings. The Society welcomes conferences on science, science policy and science education as well as events and meetings of an educational and charitable nature. The building is currently used by many external organisations including learned societies, research councils, universities, government departments and NGOs. Our own use of the facilities ranges from international scientific discussion meetings, public lectures and the Summer Science Exhibition through to training courses for postdoctoral scientists in media and communication skills. In 2001 we held over 1,800 meetings with a total attendance of 67,000. We are unable to meet the current demand for space in the building and as a result we have embarked on an ambitious re-development project of our premises funded entirely from private sources. The redevelopment will offer substantially improved facilities and additional meeting rooms for the UK and international scientific community and will be paid for from a fund raising campaign that the Society has mounted. It will not be a charge on public funds.


15.1  Background

  The positive outcome of the last spending review for the science base in the UK, together with our success in raising substantial private funds for our work, has markedly strengthened our ability to support the best young scientists and engineers undertaking world class research.

  The bid which we submitted to OST for the next spending review is based on the four objectives of ensuring:

    —  UK science has access to and benefits from the most talented scientists and engineers

    —  the UK improves its international competitiveness by having access to the best researchers

    —  closer and more meaningful interaction between scientists and the society at large

    —  equality of opportunity for women in science and engineering

  The Society's spending priorities remain: to extend support for the brightest and best researchers, increase opportunities for women to remain in science, strengthen international programmes, promote dialogue between scientists and the public, make science education both exciting and meaningful to young people and enhance our science policy work.

15.2  Extending research support

  Our main programme is support for 310 URFs and 37 DHFs, which together account for over 50 per cent of our public funding. The recent (April 2002) Roberts Report recommends an increase in the number of post-doctoral fellowships like the Society's URF scheme. The calibre of applicants for both programmes remains extremely high and success rates exceptionally low at 14.6 per cent for URF applicants and only 5 per cent for DHFs. It is clearly possible to increase the number appointed without reducing quality. We therefore propose that the total number of URFs in post should rise progressively to 350 and DHFs to 80 which would result in success rates rising to 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. The cost would be £3.36 million in a full year for which there is currently no budgetary provision.

  Our research grants provide seed-corn funding for innovative, blue-skies projects that is rarely available from other funding bodies. The budget for this scheme fell at the last spending review and the success rate is now below 25 per cent with the Society having to reject many very good applications. We have bid to reinstate the funding back to the 1999-2000 levels.

15.3  Increasing Opportunities for women

  The Society was one of the first to encourage the progression of women into senior scientific positions with the creation of the Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (DHF) scheme. We have continued this leadership role by supporting a programme using our own funds and those donated by industry to examine what further we could do to promote women in science. We wish to expand our work in this area and we have bid to OST for support for two new initiatives. The first is a major new scheme to promote career mobility of people in science, engineering or technology. It would provide transitional funding to relocate to a new research institution, where the move is necessitated by a spouse or partner moving their workplace beyond a reasonable commuting distance. The scheme will cover salary and research expenses for up to two years as a foundation for long term career development and will be a partnership between the Society and the institution accepting the researcher. In addition, the Society wishes to provide a modest level of support for the best practice guides produced by the "Athena project" (a network of women in higher education). The additional cost of both these proposals is £435k in 2003-04.

15.4  Developing industry/academic links

  The Society's industry fellowship scheme, which is supported not only by the PGA but also by the research councils and industrial sponsorship, promotes collaboration between academic scientists and engineers and their industrial counterparts. A recent review of the scheme has demonstrated what substantial benefits this scheme brings, including 17 potential new products, two patents, one spin out company and 10 other exploitable intellectual property items: major outcomes from a relatively small scheme (36 research fellows since 1995). Given its success we have bid to OST for an expansion of this scheme from nine a year to 18 a year, at an additional cost of £200k. The Roberts Report has subsequently recommended an increase in the number of industrial secondments "as the basis for encouraging postdoctoral researchers into industrial careers and as a mechanism for knowledge transfer".

15.5  International

  On the international side, it is clear that the UK remains one of the preferred destinations for postdoctoral scientists from overseas but the opportunities for the best and brightest to come here are limited. As part of our policy of bringing the world's best researchers to the UK, the Society has just started a new scheme, widely welcomed on both sides of the Atlantic, to encourage young American researchers to spend time at UK institutions and we wish to extend this scheme to other countries of scientific strength by offering additional awards at a cost of £1 million in a full year.

15.6  Regional

  The Society intends to step up its regional activities. Subject to a successful spending review bid, we will introduce a mixed programme of lectures, debates, academic seminars and meetings with policymakers and expand our regional science in society activities (currently funded entirely from private sources) aimed at enhancing confidence in science. It is anticipated that this programme will allow the Society to take a more active role in regional scientific issues and to provide regional leadership. The cost of this programme will be £250k. We have reviewed the grant given to the Royal Institution and with the changes it has introduced we are confident that this represents good value so we have asked OST for additional funding to enhance their science education programme aimed at school aged children.

15.7  Science policy

  The Society's science policy work has been gradually extended over the past five years to the position that many organisations, government included, see our output as authoritative, definitive and independent. The pressures on the Society to contribute to science policy debates continue to increase and the Society is presently undertaking one of the three enquiries that government has set up following the foot and mouth outbreak. In addition, this year we have been leading an attempt to create a more effective European science policy voice with the creation of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). We have bid to OST for a modest increase in funding to allow us to continue this leadership role especially in Europe.

  In summary, the costs of the areas where the Society would like to increase its support are:
URF and DHF3,360
Relocation fellowships & Athena435
Industry fellowships200
International fellowships1,000
Research grants650


  The Royal Society makes a substantial contribution to keeping UK science competitive with the best in the world. Our unique attributes include the Fellowship of 1,200 of the most outstanding scientists in the UK and the Commonwealth, the extensive network of younger scientists who hold our awards and are connected with the Society in other ways, our focus on supporting scientific excellence irrespective of discipline, and our independence of government and vested interest. We use these attributes in imaginative and creative ways to promote science. The money we receive through OST constitutes just 1.6 per cent of the science budget, but it has a powerful catalytic impact on UK science as a whole. Coupled with our private sources of income and the flexibility we have in deploying them, it enables us to anticipate and respond to the needs of UK science and thus to promote the well-being of the UK.

April 2002


  The following is a list of abbreviations and definitions for some of the terms used in the text.
ACMEAdvisory Committee on Mathematics Education
ALLEAEuropean Federation of National Academies of Sciences and Humanities
Athena Projecta UK wide initiative to advance women in science, engineering and technology in higher education by working with institutions to develop, share, encourage and disseminate good practice (more information at:
AWiSEAssociation of Women in Science and Engineering
BAASBritish Association for the Advancement of Science
COPUSThe UK Partnership for Science Communication
DfESDepartment for Education and Skills
DHFDorothy Hodgkin Fellowship/Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow
EASACEuropean Academies' Science Advisory Council
Fellowan individual elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and paying a subscription
fellowholder of a post, usually for research, in academia or industry that is partly or wholly funded by the Royal Society
FRSFellow of the Royal Society
IACInterAcademy Council
IAPInterAcademy Panel
ICSUInternational Council for Science
NAPAGNational Academies Policy Analysis Group
OFSTEDOffice for Standards in Education
OSTOffice of Science and Technology
paper annum
PGAParliamentary Grant-in-Aid
post-docspost-doctoral researchers
QCAQualifications and Curriculum Authority
RAEngRoyal Academy of Engineering
R&Dresearch and development
RSRoyal Society
Sciencethe collection of disciplines including medical, agricultural, biological, physical, chemical, mathematical and engineering sciences, applied sciences and technology
science basethe staff, students, infrastructure and equipment engaged in scientific research across all of academia and industry
SETscience, engineering and technology
SORPStatement of Recommended Practices
URFUniversity Research Fellowship/University Research Fellow
WESWomen's Engineering Society
WISEWomen into Science and Engineering


Schemes funded from both PGA and non-PGA sources

  University Research Fellowships (URF) allow scientists with the potential to become leaders in their chosen fields to spend up to 10 years concentrating solely on "blue skies" research. Up to one year can be spent abroad. Award provides salary and research expenses. Additional support includes workshops, individual career advice, student bursaries, media and communication training. 322 URFs in post (310 from PGA). Scheme makes a significant contribution to both reversing the "brain drain" with approximately 30 per cent of URFs returning from abroad to take up these awards and to "brain gain" by attracting scientists from elsewhere in Europe. Current URFs include Dr Neil Ferguson who was awarded the OBE for his work on foot and mouth disease and Dr Andrew McKenzie winner of the Institute of Physics Mott Prize.

  Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships provide salary and research expenses for up to four years at early stages of postdoctoral career when many academics (particularly women) leave science. Flexibility in funding supports maternity leave and periods of part time working. Additional support and advice is provided by personal mentors such as Baroness Susan Greenfield (Professor of Physiology at Oxford University). Additional support includes individual career support, student bursaries, media and communication training. 55 fellows in post (37 from PGA), 52 of whom are women. We intend to secure additional sponsorship for this scheme from corporate sponsorship and other sources. Current holders include Dr Susan Howson (University of Nottingham) the first female recipient of the Adams Prize, the UK's most prestigious award for a young mathematician.

  Industry Fellowships promote innovation and collaboration between academic and industrial scientists by allowing academic scientists to work in industry and vice versa for between six months and two years (FTA). Provides salary and collaborative costs. 16 fellows currently in post (nine from PGA). Following the successful evaluation of this scheme we propose to increase this number to 17. [12]Fellowships have resulted in seven new products under development including a jet engine and a new anti-infective agent.

  New Relocation Fellowships* will facilitate the relocation of excellent scientists whose spouse or partner is moving their workplace beyond reasonable commuting distance. These awards will provide salary and research expenses for up to two years and will be of particular benefit to women who are more often the "following partner". They are part of our wider programme of activities aimed at retaining women in science (see Section 7).

  Wolfson Foundation/OST Research Merit Awards enable universities to compete with industry and overseas universities for the "David Beckhams" of science. Provides salary enhancement and additional research expenses for five years. Currently 17 in post. "Brain gains" include Prof Peter Taylor who left the University of California to work on molecular structures at University of Warwick and Dr Gabriel Aeppli who moved from Princeton to work on quantum physics at University College London.

  Research Professorships attract and retain the world's top scientists in the UK. Provides enhanced salaries and generous research expenses for 10-15 years. 17 Professors in post (12 from PGA). Current holders include Professor Frances Ashcroft FRS who works on the structure, function and physiological roles of ion channels and Sir Martin Rees FRS, Astronomer Royal. In addition to scientific research, previous award holders such as the Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto FRS have been extensively involved in increasing the accessibility of science to the public.

  Research grants provide seed-corn funding of up to £10k for innovative, blue-skies projects. Rarely available from other funding bodies and particularly effective in funding "high risk" projects and pilot studies. Approximately 270 grants each year with the intention to increase this to 314*. Recent awards range from the development of a vaccine for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia from wheat flour to an investigation of particle size segregation in granular avalanches.

  Conference grants promote UK science abroad by providing up to £1.5k for UK scientists to participate in prestigious conferences throughout the world. Enable scientists to communicate their findings, establish collaborations and build international reputations. These grants include a contribution to childcare costs for conference participants. Approximately 1,100 grants each year with the intention to increase this to 1,250*.

Schemes funded from non-PGA sources

  Wolfson Refurbishment grants of up to £250,000 are available for the renovation and modernisation of university research laboratories.

  Brian Mercer Innovation Awards were established to fill the funding gap between the scientific research and the exploitation of the idea through venture capital. Major grants of up to £250,000 are available for innovative proposals that take a project forward from concept to prototype. The small grant scheme for younger scientists offers funding of up to £30,000 to enable important discoveries to be taken through to commercialisation.

  Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowships seek to provide opportunities for academics to be relieved of all their teaching and administrative duties, for a period of between one academic term and one year to do full-time research, in order to re-establish their research career as a foundation for long-term future development. Universities are required to recruit a member of staff to replace the award holder.

  Figure 1. Budget expenditure for financial year 2001-02 for research fellowships and direct support schemes in the UK (excluding administration costs). Schemes marked with * are funded entirely from non-PGA funds.


Aims of the scheme

  To promote the exploitation of research

  To improve co-operation between industry and HEIs.

  To increase knowledge transfer from academia to industry and vice versa,


  36 Industry fellowships completed since 1995, 23 supported in the current financial year:—

  The RS (£200K from PGA), BBSRC, EPSRC and Rolls Royce plc (£300K). Total funds = £500K


  (i)  Exploitation of research

    —  New products under development (seven)

    —  Potential products that may be developed (10)

    —  Patents (two)

    —  Spin out companies (1 set up and another under consideration)

    —  Other exploitable intellectual property (10 items)

  Types of novel products under development include mathematical methodology, software and algorithms, a new design of aircraft generator capable of operating over a wide range of speeds, better ways of making improved varieties of sugar beet and a possible new anti-infective drug.

  (ii)  Increased co-operation between academia and industry

    —  On-going collaboration (88 per cent of respondents said the collaboration was continuing)

    —  Increased company funding in the IF's area of research (nine)

    —  Research funding (£3 million from public funds, £812K from industry and 250 from a charity)

    —  Formal contracting of research by industry to the HEI department (seven research contracts)

    —  CASE Studentships (eight)

    —  Academic IF became consultant to a company (six), two became members of the company's board/scientific board, one became a director of the company

    —  Academic IF became a company employee (two)

    —  Company IF became visiting professor in the academic department (one)

  (iii)  Increased knowledge transfer

    —  Increased understanding of how the commercial research sector operates (93 per cent of academics holding IF in industry considered they had gained new insights into how commercial research is undertaken)

    —  Increased understanding in the HEI department of the needs of industry as employers of people in SET (48 per cent of respondents)

    —  Original research papers in peer-reviewed journals (51) and conference proceedings (83), 13 other miscellaneous publications

    —  Talks (42 talks given by IFs in the host HEI department or company)

    —  New undergraduate teaching modules (six)



  The University Research Fellowship (URF) Scheme was set up in 1983 responding to concerns about a lack of opportunities for the recruitment of able young academic staff to university positions. As well as helping to keep the best scientists in the UK, the fellowships have evolved to attract top young European scientists. The scheme is designed to provide medium-term, high prestige fellowships for outstanding postdoctoral scientists and to encourage young academics to stay in or return to the UK. The objectives of the scheme are:—

    —  to make medium-term awards to outstanding postdoctoral scientists on the basis of individual merit

    —  to provide them with a stable and helpful environment in which to undertake high quality research and establish a reputation as a research scientist

    —  to encourage them to stay in or return to the UK — slowing down/reversing the "brain drain"

    —  to allow them time to gain teaching experience and to build up contacts and collaborative links

    —  to keep close contact with them and assist them, where possible, with career guidance

    —  to ensure that, before the end of the fellowship, they have secured a permanent post, preferably in a UK university, but certainly somewhere where their skills and experience can be put to good use for the benefit of science.

  The first questionnaire-based survey of former URFs was conducted in 1993. The exercise has since been repeated annually and a total of 295 former URFs have now completed the questionnaire (a response rate of 80 per cent). They have provided their views of the scheme and have given information about their career progression.

Analysis of results

Pre- and post-URF career progression

  It was found that most respondents had held one or more short-term research positions in the UK or overseas before taking up their fellowship (Figure 1). 26 per cent of respondents had returned from overseas to take up the URF and 52 per cent had previously held a position abroad.

  Figure 3.1:  Number and location of short-term research positions held before URF
1 UK74
1 UK/1 Overseas57
1 UK/2 Overseas12
1 UK/3 Overseas5
1 UK/4 Overseas1
2 UK56
2 UK/1 Overseas19
2 UK/2 Overseas6
3 UK22
3 UK/1 Overseas1
4 UK5
4 UK/1 Overseas2
5 UK/1 Overseas1
1 Overseas11
2 Overseas10
3 Overseas1
Temporary Lectureship6
Assistant Professor (USA)3
Demonstrator UK1

  According to 175 respondents (59 per cent) the main reason they applied to the scheme was to be able to do full-time independent research in a secure environment. Other reasons included the expectation that the URF would lead to an established post (19), the prestige of the scheme (32) and the opportunity to return to UK science (18).

  For the vast majority of respondents the main reason for resigning a URF was to take up an established post — 92 per cent of these positions were within the UK higher education system. Figure 2 shows the type of post taken up.

  Figure 3.2:  Main reasons for leaving URF scheme
Lectureship UK152
Readership UK27
Tenure expired22
Professorship UK20
Senior Lectureship UK12
Professorship USA10
Senior Research Associate UK10
Industry UK10
Lectureship Overseas7
Assistant Lectureship UK5
Research Council/Institute position4
Professorship Overseas2
Snr Research Fellow Overseas2
Industry overseas2
University Administration1
Return to medicine1

  Since 1993, the average length of tenure had increased from 4.5 to 7.1 years. This trend may reflect an increasing scarcity of posts in universities, a desire by universities to hold onto Royal Society funding for longer before absorbing the fellow into their established staff or the outstanding research opportunities provided through these unique awards.

  Figure 3.3:  Graph to show average length of tenure

3.   Transfers between host Universities

  Although many remained at the same institution throughout their fellowship, the numbers of URFs transferring their fellowship to a new university had increased in recent years. Of those who left the scheme in 2001, seven out of 30 had transferred at some point during their fellowship. In most cases those who transferred did so as part of their negotiations for an established position with the new institution. The possibility of transferring for a short time ahead of taking up an established post is most appreciated.

    "I transferred to provide time to settle in at Imperial College before taking up my lectureship"

    "The one year transfer to Newcastle was most helpful and allowed me to establish my research at the new institution"

4.   Advantages of the Scheme

  Respondents were asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the URF scheme (Figure 4) and were able to give more than one reply in these sections. 175 thought that the main advantage was that the URF offers a longer term appointment than most schemes at a similar level and therefore provides more security. 95 respondents stated that the research expenses received from the Royal Society were a definite bonus and 99 mentioned that the high profile of the scheme was advantageous when applying for permanent positions.

Figure 3.4:  Table to show advantages of the scheme in order of preference
Length of tenure/security175
Prestige/high profile99
Research expenses95
Little teaching/administration32
Good support from Royal Society31
Minimal bureaucracy25
Eligible for other grants22
Better salary11
Better prospects7
Spending time abroad5
Contacts with other URFs4
Able to obtain teaching experience3
Broad subject area3
National scheme1

5.   Disadvantages of scheme

  Nearly three-quarters of respondents stated that they were unable to identify any disadvantages of the scheme compared with other fellowships to which they would have been eligible to apply. The main criticism raised by the others was that a URF may hold up subsequent promotion as "progression up the career ladder is essentially frozen" while holding a fellowship. Some had had difficulties within their department with regard to their status compared to other staff, and a few regionally based URFs commented that they had felt rather isolated.

6.   Research Expenses

  Since the start of the scheme the amount of annual research expenses available to URFs has increased significantly from £900 per annum in 1983 to the current level of £13,000 for the first year and £11,000 per annum thereafter.

  All respondents stated that they found their research expenses invaluable. Figure 5 indicates the various ways in which they used these funds.

  Figure 3.5:  Uses of research expenses in order of importance
Small items of equipment154
Large items of equipment25
Laboratory costs11

    "The flexibility of the use of funds etc. is extremely attractive, as it allows new research and collaboration to commence without undue delay"

  More than two-thirds of respondents stated that the amount they received was adequate. Some felt that funds should be available for research assistants and that help should be provided for the purchase of large pieces of equipment.

7.   Relationship between URFs and the Royal Society

  Over the years the Royal Society has helped URFs with career and other advice and has tried to build as much flexibility as possible into the scheme, eg by enabling fellows to spend up to two years at a research institution overseas and by allowing part-time arrangements for those with family commitments.

  When asked whether the Royal Society was sufficiently flexible regarding matters such as leave of absence, transfers, requests for extra funding, maternity leave and visits abroad etc, almost all responded positively and said that they had not felt at all constrained during their fellowship. The Society was regarded as helpful, understanding and very supportive. The lack of bureaucracy employed is also very much appreciated.

    "I found the Royal Society very flexible and did not feel constrained in any way"

    "I was impressed by the adoption by the Royal Society of flexible schemes for women and found it an immense help . . . through my second maternity leave"

8.   Relationship between URFs and host Institutions

  226 respondents stated that they were treated well at their host institution and were given the same status as established staff. The remainder had had some difficulties in gaining recognition and some had to fight for privileges such as supervision of PhD students, the right to attend staff meetings and bench space. A number of research fellows transferred because of the way they were treated within their faculty. There is perhaps more the Royal Society could do to explain the role and status of URFs to the host department.

9.   Effects of fellowship on subsequent career

  Only one respondent said that his URF had not helped his career and felt that it was a "stop gap" and a "step down" after his previous position in the USA. The rest of the replies were positive and conveyed that the fellowship had been of great benefit since the end of their appointment.

    "If I had not been awarded a URF, I would either be in science in France or the US, or have returned and done a MBA or similar ie left academia"

    "Achievement of a URF is taken as a recognition that one has reached serious consideration for a permanent position"

10.   Suggested improvements for the Scheme and future funding opportunities

  Half the respondents had no suggestions to make when asked for ways of improving the scheme. Among the suggestions put forward by the remainder were:

    —  to increase the number of fellowships available each year. Over the years there has been a considerable increase in the number of posts to a ceiling of 310 in 2001—the number of vacancies each year depends on funds and resignations;

    —  to offer extra support for research assistants/technicians or students and to continue research expenses for a short time after the URF starts their permanent position;

    —  to invite competitive bids to fund larger items of equipment which are too expensive to purchase with a research expenses grant;

    —  to provide more of the available research expenses in the first year to help with start-up costs. The Society's policies on research expenses are regularly reviewed and an increase made to £13,000 for the first year and £11,000 per annum thereafter;

    —  to ensure a wider distribution of URFs across the country;

    —  to obtain a definite commitment from the host institution at the start of the fellowship that a post will be made available;

    —  to provide more senior fellowships to which the URFs can progress;

    —  to construct a nationwide agreement as to the rights and eligibilities of research fellows. In 1996 the Society signed the Concordat on Research Careers which aims to bring the terms and conditions of short-term staff in line with those enjoyed by established staff;

    —  to establish a structure whereby URFs can seek advice and assistance from their more experienced peers on the scheme. The Society is now organising seminars for this purpose to be held at various universities throughout the UK. A new website for research fellows will be launched in March 2002 offering the opportunity for on-line discussions with senior scientists;

    —  to establish a mentor scheme for new URFs;

    —  to increase URFs salaries in line with the Wellcome Trust;

    —  to arrange more social events to bring URFs together, either in London or regional.

11.   Conclusions

  The results of the survey are encouraging and helpful. The majority of the respondents found their fellowship an enjoyable and valuable experience and practically all those who have returned the questionnaire said that their subsequent career had benefited significantly from the time spent as a URF. It was generally felt that the scheme:

    —  offers the right combination of full-time research, independence and flexibility and a good level of research support with little red tape;

    —  is right to support the talented individual rather than a project or department, especially as this allows research fellows to transfer to a different institution where this is of benefit to their research or career prospects;

    —  has helped UK academics to return and attracted top young European scientists.

  The Society values feedback from its fellows and, as can be seen from paragraph 10, it listens to and tries where possible to respond to the comments received. Clearly, the principal concerns for the Society must lie in improving the relationship between fellows and their host universities and continuing to monitor the need for research support whilst continuing to avoid cumbersome bureaucracy.


  Fellowships are aimed at excellent young scientists and provide an opportunity to spend between six months and two years (three for USA) developing skills and experience by undertaking research in a different country. Approximately 100 awards are made per year covering travel and subsistence. The Royal Society and the partner academy or institution share costs. One of these schemes is the Japan 2+2 fellowships that encourage excellent young postdoctoral UK scientists to spend two years in Japan (a country of scientific strength) and offers two years funding when they return to the UK.

  Joint projects provide "seed corn" funding of up to 18k over two to three years to support the early stages of innovative collaborative research between a UK group and one overseas group (predominately Europe, former Soviet Union, China and Japan). They are becoming increasingly popular and a recent review has shown them to be particularly effective in establishing long-term collaborations as well as gaining project funding from other bodies. 130 new Joint Project awards started in 2001-02 providing travel and subsistence. The UK funding is normally matched by our partners.

  Figure 4:  International exchanges budget by geographic region for financial year 2001-02 (excluding administration costs).

  Study visits are short-term networking visits, between five days and six months, with the objectives of enhancing the research capabilities of individual scientists, developing international collaborative links and proving access to unique sites and resources. 439 study visits were made in 2001-02 with awards of between £500 and £6000 to cover travel and subsistence. The Royal Society and the partner academy or institution share costs.

  "Brain-gain" Fellowships will benefit the UK by funding excellent postdocs from the scientifically strong countries of the US, India and China to work in UK universities and research institutes for two to three years. The first 10 awards for the US scheme will be made this year (funded under the last Spending Review) and similar fellowships will be established with India in China in 2003 and 2004 respectively (subject to a successful Spending Review bid).


Recent examples of education policy advisory activities

  The Society has recently published major studies on the teaching of geometry for 11-19 year-olds and school science technicians.

Technicians in schools and colleges

  In late 2000, the Society's Education Committee identified a need for work to be undertaken to map the size and distribution of the science technician workforce in schools and colleges. A working group was set up jointly with the Association for Science Education, consisting of 14 members including teachers, technicians and scientists. The group was chaired by Sir John Horlock FRS and included one other Fellow.

  The working group undertook surveys of technicians and head teachers, and analysed a sample of OFSTED reports. After considering the results of the research, the working group published a report with recommendations in January 2002. In the three months since publication, 2000 printed copies of the report have been requested (largely by schools) and it has been successfully downloaded from our website over 7,000 times.

  In response, the DfES has agreed to set up a joint working group to examine the report's recommendations and to take forward proposals where possible. In addition, a DfES consultation document now includes proposals to use the National Centre for Excellence in Science for the training of technicians as well as teachers.

  The contents of the report were also used by several witnesses during the delivery of their evidence to the inquiry into 14-19 education by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

The teaching of geometry in schools and colleges

  In February 2000, the Royal Society set up a working group with the Joint Mathematical Council to consider the teaching of geometry to students aged 11-19. The group looked in particular at the "Shape, Space and Measures" strand of the Secondary National Curriculum, representing about a third of the mathematics course.

  The final report was well received by the mathematics community when it was published in July 2001. The Society received orders for 2,500 printed copies, including requests for a total of more than 150 from over 30 countries. To date, the report has been downloaded from the Society's website some 3,500 times.

  After the report was published, the Government's National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) purchased 300 copies to be used in the training of the Numeracy Consultants. These consultants each gave two training sessions on geometrical reasoning to teachers representing one third of all secondary schools in England. The accompanying course handbook included a summary and extracts from the report.

  The NNS plans for next year include preparing a teaching unit on geometrical reasoning, to be presented to representatives of all secondary schools at a training course during the spring term of 2003. It is anticipated that the content of the course will have been heavily influenced by the report.

Partnership Grants Scheme

  The Royal Society Partnership Grants scheme encourages teachers to work with professional scientists to create innovative projects for school pupils. The scheme offers individual grants of up to £2,500, to teachers and scientists or engineers to collaborate on activities for 5-16 year-olds. The grants may be used to purchase equipment and materials not normally covered by school budgets, to compensate schools for supply cover if the teachers need to be out of the classroom, and to pay travel costs when teachers, scientists and engineers, and pupils visit each other.

  The scheme was launched in November 2000, and over its first three rounds, the Partnership Grants scheme has awarded nearly £170k to 107 schools, giving 11,745 pupils the chance to work with a scientist or engineer. Schools who might be considered in greatest need of this support are benefiting; over half the schools supported have been at primary level and 95 per cent are in the state sector.

  The scientists/engineer partners are drawn from both the public and private sectors, with 40 per cent being based in industry. On the basis of the evaluation forms received so far, there appear to be many benefits for pupils, teachers and scientists/engineers. For example, 84 per cent of scientists/engineers felt that their organisation had benefited through links with their local community, 79 per cent felt great satisfaction from doing something worthwhile, 74 per cent had received an insight into science education and over a third felt their communication skills had improved.

  For teachers, the scheme gave them the room to be creative beyond the curriculum, the opportunity to use equipment not normally available to them, and the chance to gain new scientific knowledge and learn the latest techniques. Teachers felt their pupils benefited in a variety of ways—86 per cent had gained improved practical and thinking skills and an increased interest in science, and 71 per cent had a better understanding of "real" science and the scientific process. The evaluation also found that 86 per cent of teachers were planning to develop their project further, suggesting that the scheme is having a long-term impact.

The Acclaim project

  The Acclaim project was launched in 2000 to raise young people's awareness of cutting edge scientific research in this country and of the achievements of UK scientists. The focus of the project has been profiles of the work of six leading scientists and their research teams:

    —  Frances Ashcroft FRS, University Laboratory of Physiology, University of Oxford.

    —  Francesca Happé, Senior Cognitive Psychologist, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.

    —  Paul Nurse FRS, Director General, Science, Cancer Research UK, and joint winner of 2001 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

    —  Stephen Sparks FRS, Director, Centre for Environmental and Geophysical Flows, University of Bristol.

    —  Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics, University of Reading.

    —  Chris Wise, Professor of Creative Design, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine.

  Bespoke curriculum resource materials for 11-16 year-olds have been developed for the project, including case studies and pupil activities based on each of the six Acclaim scientists. The materials focus on "scientific enquiry" and the National Curriculum. The six Acclaim scientists also feature, at work and at home, in a six-part television series "Living Science" which was broadcast on Channel 4 schools' television in February 2001. The response to the series was so favourable that it is likely to be repeated later this year. The Acclaim scientists and engineers also gave public lectures around the UK, aimed particularly at secondary school pupils.

  Since the start of the project, more than 550 curriculum packs (including videos of the "Living Science" series) have been purchased by English schools, representing about 15 per cent of secondary schools. Further curriculum materials and up-to-date information about the Acclaim project are available on the website:

Promoting education at the Summer Science Exhibition

  The Society's annual Summer Science Exhibition provides a unique opportunity for school pupils and their teachers to meet leading scientific researchers from around the UK. Visitors to the Exhibition can find out about the latest developments in science and technology through "hands-on" displays and discussions with researchers. The Exhibition is particularly suitable for students aged 16 or older who have an interest in science or who are considering science as a career.

  In 2001, advance registrations for the Exhibition were received from about 800 post-16 students from schools across the UK, including Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stafford, Derby, Yeovil and Taunton. An analysis of completed evaluation forms showed three-quarters of students agreed that the Exhibition made them more interested in science, and 75 per cent of teachers found that they picked up new information by attending.

Other educational resources and activities

  In addition, the Society supports a number of education initiatives organised by other bodies. In 2001, these included:—

    —  the Nuffield School Science Bursaries scheme, in which sixth form students develop their scientific knowledge and skills by working alongside scientists during school summer holidays;

    —  the feasibility phase of the "Perspectives on Science" project which aims to create a new AS level qualification in the history and philosophy of science;

    —  a video and curriculum material describing the volcanic eruption on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, produced by Professor Stephen Sparks FRS;

    —  the Salters' Institute Chemistry Camps initiative, which seeks to raise the profile of chemistry among 14-15 year-olds and to build links between school, industry and university;

    —  a feasibility study exploring the concept of a Science Academy where gifted and talented students would work on scientific problems with mentors from universities and industry;

    —  the British teams participating in the Mathematics, Physics and Biology Olympiads, international competitions for the most able sixth-form pupils; and

    —  the British Association Science Fair, concluding a national competition that encourages 14-19 year-olds to develop and present science and engineering projects — the Fair is held at the Royal Society, where finalists display their projects to school groups and other interested parties.


    —  Sir Paul Nurse (Chair), who is Director General for Science at Cancer Research UK and joint holder of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

    —  Professor Colin Blakemore FRS, who is Waynflete Professor of Physiology and Director of the Oxford Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oxford

    —  Mrs Claire Foster, who works on the Board for Social Responsibility of the Church of England

    —  Dr Ian Gibson MP, who is Chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee

    —  Dr Roger Highfield, who is Science Editor for "The Daily Telegraph"

    —  Professor Ian Kennedy, who is Chairman of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics

    —  Ms Brenda Maddox, who is an author, biographer and journalist

    —  Professor Christopher Marshall FRS, who is Director of the Cancer Research Campaign Centre for Cell and Molecular Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research

    —  Mr George Monbiot, who is an author and newspaper columnist

    —  Dr Marcus du Sautoy, who is a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford

    —  Dr Jim Thomas, who is a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield

    —  Professor Robert Worcester, who is Executive Chairman of Market & Opinion Research International (MORI)

    —  Professor Brian Wynne, who is Research Director in the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change at the University of Lancaster

    —  Dr Anjana Ahuja, who is a feature writer at "The Times"

    —  The Baroness Wilcox of Plymouth, who is a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee


  The full text, or summary, of these reports can be found on the Royal Society's web page


  The health effects of depleted uranium munitions Summary (eight page summary of Parts I and II 6/02, March 2002 ISBN 085403 5753)*

  The health hazards of depleted uranium munitions Part II (150 page document 5/02, March 2002 £17.50 ISBN 0 85403 574 5)*

  Genetically modified plants for food use and human health—an update (20 page document, 4/02, February 2002, ISBN 0 85403 576 1)*

  Statement of the Royal Society's position on the use of animals in research (two page statement, 3/02, January 2002, ISBN 0 85403 5737)*

  Response to a consultation by HM Treasury and the Inland Revenue on R&D tax credits for larger companies (two pages, submitted, 10/02, January 2002)

  Response to a consultation by HMSO on the licensing of Crown copyright (one page, 9/02, submitted January 2002)

  Support success: science technicians in schools and colleges (two page summary, 2/02, January 02, ISBN 0 85403 572 9 and 36 page document, 1/02, January 02, ISBN 0 85403 571 0)


  Response to the Policy Commission on the future of farming and food. (four page response to the Policy Commission, 23/01, October 2001)*

  Response to the consultation on DEFRA's aims and objectives. (two page response to DEFRA consultation, 22/01, September 2001)*

  Royal Society response to PIU Energy project scoping note. (five page response to cabinet office consultation, 21/01, September 2001)*

  Survey of science technicians in schools and colleges (two page summary, 18/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 564 8)*

  Survey of science technicians in schools and colleges (72 page document, 17/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 566 4)*

  Teaching & learning geometry for 11-19 year olds (four page summary, 16/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 5656)*

  Teaching & learning geometry for 11-19 year olds (94 page document, 15/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 562 1)*

  The role of land carbon sinks in mitigating global climate change (two page summary, 11/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 561 3)*

  The role of land carbon sinks in mitigating global climate change (32 page document, 10/01, July 01, ISBN 0 85403 562 1)*

  European Commission's white paper "Strategy for a future chemicals policy" (five page response to the inquiry by the House of Lords European Union Committee, 19/01, July 2001)*

  The second stage of the quinquennial review of the Research Councils (17 page response to OST consultation 13/01, July 01)*

  Draft code of practice for scientific advisory committees (three page response to OST consultation 14/01, July 01)*

  Transmissible spongiform encephlopathies (11 page statement 08/01, 5 June 2001)*

  Stem cells research-second update (four page response to the inquiry by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee 09/01, June 2001 ISBN 0 85403 560 5)*

  The health hazards of depleted uranium munitions, Part 1(88 page document 06/01,22 May 2001, £17.50 ISBN 0 85403 3540)*

  The health hazards of depleted uranium munitions, Part 1(two page summary 07/01,22 May 2001, ISBN 0 85403 5575)*

  The use of genetically modified animals (46 page document 05/01, 21 May 2001, ISBN 0 85403 556 7)*

  The Science of Climate Change (two page joint statement from 16 scientific academies, 17 May 2001)*

  Scottish Executive's policy statement "The Nature of Scotland" (three page response to consultation document 12/01, submitted May 2001)*

  Comments on the government's response to the Report of the BSE inquiry (19 page response to government, submitted May 2001)*

  Quinquennial Review of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

(four page response to MAFF's public consultation 04/01, 6 April 2001)*

  Comments on Foresight (two page letter at the launch of DTI's Review on Foresight, April 2001 Professor JE Enderby CBE FRS)*

  Higher Education Funding Council for Wales review of the research funding method (three page letter, March 2001 Professor JE Enderby CBE FRS)*

  Research Policy & Funding (three page response to Scottish Higher Education Funding Council consultation, March 2001 Professor JE Enderby CBE FRS)*

  Genetics and Insurance (four page response to the inquiry by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee 03/01 March 2001)*

  Cost/Benefit Assessment and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1982 (seven page response to consultation 02/01 March 2001)*

  The future of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (21-page document 01/01 February 2001 ISBN)*

  Response to House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into Renewable Energy (five page letter 29 January 2001 Sir Eric Ash CBE FREng FRS)


ActivityPGA Funding (£k) Level of Activity
Supported by PGA

Non PGA Funding (£k)Level of Activity
Supported by Non PGA

Research Support
Professorships78112 professors 2505 professors
University Research Fellowships9939 310 fellows42312 fellows
Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships825 40 fellows66022 fellows
Industry Fellowships200 21 fellows32617 fellows
Japan Fellowships87 7 fellows
Research Support4022 236 grants
Wolfson/OST Merit Award200 35 awards (1)180018 awards
Wolfson Refurbishment 247520 grants
Mercer Innovation 4004 awards
Ambassador Programme 15For alumni
Leverhulme Fellowships* 2137 fellows
External Funding (2)* 115300generated by our researchers
TOTAL (£k)16054 121862

International Support
Europe1000149 grants + 90 projects 60038 grants
Russia etc600159 grants + 50 projects
Far East72590 grants + 97 projects 62947 grants
Australasia and Canada325 68 grants41010 grants
India South Africa & others600 145 grants614 projects
Conference Grants850 1250 grants
Overseas Research Projects126 3 projects
Relations with academies overseas20 20
International subscriptions280 36 subscriptions
ICSU Grants12850 grants
International Seismological Centre70 grant
Academia Europea75grant 310*
Partner funding for International work (3)* 4900
TOTAL (£k)4799 6930

National Science Support
Small Research Grants1850 350 grants10827 grants
History of Science78 4 Projects
Science Communication and Education810 40 educational grants3 special grants Support for Science in Society 63535 Education grants support for Science in Society
Soiree 353 events
Meetings and Lectures180 14—2 day International meetings 3615 events
Science Advice100 189
Medals and Awards 3614 awards
Library 250
TOTAL (£k)3018 1289
Support Costs
External Redecoration (4)230
Operating Costs (5)1538 2497
TOTAL (£k)2074 2497

2594512697 Direct expenditure
120723Third Party


  * These are third party expenditure.

  (1)  Relates to awards in 2002-03.

  (2)  External funding attracted by RS Professorships and Fellowships.

  (3)  Funding for International Exchanges Programme provided by Partners.

  (4)  This element only occurs every four years.

  (5)  This is the element which pays for the administration of publicly funded programmes.

Aberdeen1 1
Bath9 1161
Belfast, Queen's2 2
Birmingham71 6
Bristol121 82 1
Cambridge726 49 134
Coventry1 1
Dundee52 3
Durham10 18 1
East Anglia6 42
Edinburgh171 15 1
Glasgow6 14 1
Keele1 1
Lancaster2 2
Leeds12 101 1
Leicester101 61 11
Liverpool5 32
Liverpool, John Moores1 1
London*781 655 124
Loughborough1 1
Manchester9 7 11
Newcastle6 51
Nottingham7 52
Open2 11
Oxford573 142 101
Portsmouth1 1
Reading21 1
Sheffield7 61 1
Southampton15 13 11
St Andrews6 6
Strathclyde3 12
Sussex5 5
Wales, Bangor1 1
Wales, Cardiff7 51 1
Wales, Swansea1 1
Warwick10 18 1
York10 10
TOTALS:406 1777 3025510 8

*London breakdown:
Birkbeck3 12
Imperial231 116 41
King's5 41
LSE1 1
University of London (Millport)1 1
Queen Mary4 4
Royal Free2 11
Royal Holloway2 11
St George's1 1
UCL36 4263 3
TOTAL:78 16 5512 4

  Key:  RP = Research Professors; RM = Research Merit Awards; LT=Leverhulme Trust; U=University Research Fellows; DH= Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows; Pvt = Privately funded postdoctoral fellowships; IF = Industry Fellows.

  An additional 11 Industry fellows are based at Ashford, Billingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, London, Nottingham, Southampton, Stevenage (two), Welwyn Garden City, Winchester.

12   Subject to a successful Spending Review bid. Back

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Prepared 6 August 2002