Evaluation report: multidisciplinary strategic research supports society as a whole

14 Jun 2021

The scientific activity of the first completed strategic research programmes has been evaluated. The evaluation shows that the strategic research programmes and their projects have effectively supported scientific renewal and produced high-quality and multidisciplinary research. The programmes have been able to produce multidisciplinary research-based knowledge on the chosen themes, for example through new methods based on co-creation. In addition to scientific impact, the results achieved in the programmes and projects have thus provided strong and versatile research data to support policymaking.

The evaluation focused on four programmes active in 2016–2019, the themes of which were and remain societally topical:

  • Urbanising Society (URBAN)
  • Health, Welfare and Lifestyles (HEALTH)
  • Skilled Employees – Successful Labour Market (WORK)
  • Security in a Networked World (SECURITY).

The scientific activity of each programme was evaluated by an independent expert panel. The evaluation panels were composed of international experts, some of whom had participated in the review of applications for the programmes in 2015 and 2016.

According to the results of the evaluation, the SRC funding instrument has, through its multidisciplinary approach, brought added value both to the research field and to societal decision-making. At the same time, a more strategic and long-term approach has been created to cooperation between research and society’s actors.

Director Päivi Tikka from the Academy of Finland’s Division of Strategic Research said: “The evaluation shows that the funding scheme has succeeded in supporting high-quality multidisciplinary research that promotes scientific renewal. We’re very pleased with the results.”

Tikka added: “The evaluation reports also contain valuable observations on issues that the Strategic Research Council must continue to take into consideration. These include supporting the continuity and long-term development of multidisciplinary research and encouraging the creation of new disciplinary combinations in programme calls.”

Excellence through high-quality practices

In addition to the results of the scientific work, the evaluation paid attention to the quality of the research processes and working methods. For example, the panels examined the importance of responsible science as a basis for high-quality research and the benefits and challenges of reforming scientific work.

The evaluators also paid attention to equality in the composition of research groups and to open access to publications and research data. In particular, the panels advocated improved open access to research data. The panels felt that open access to research data ensures the continuity of research work even after the funding periods of individual projects.

The evaluation also focused on the diverse methods employed in the strategic research programmes that enabled, among other things, the co-creation of research with stakeholders. Co-creation with knowledge users was seen as a particularly important method.

New programme evaluations in 2022

The evaluation reports of the scientific activity of the four strategic research programmes active in 2016–2019 conclude the first programme evaluation of strategic research. A self-evaluation report and a societal impact report for the same programmes were published earlier this year.

The first strategic research programmes, launched in 2015, will be completed in autumn 2021. The next programme evaluation will focus on these programmes and will be carried out in 2022.

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