We place considerable emphasis on the evaluation of the outcomes of our investments in research and training. This evaluation has three main purposes:
- To understand the extent to which our investments achieve their aims.
- To generate evidence-based input to the planning process.
- To obtain information about scientific achievements and highlights.
Evaluation is an embedded activity, and is undertaken at a variety of levels. Any initiatives intended to achieve specific outcomes among particular target groups can be evaluated. In EPSRC an evaluation can be undertaken of any concentration of our research or training portfolio or of any other initiative(s) (eg projects, schemes, pilots, campaigns) that have been undertaken to help the organisation meet its strategic objectives. Evaluation is rarely undertaken at the level of individual projects. A variety of approaches are adopted, for example:
- Theme days evaluation of research relevant to specific themes/industrial sectors; these may lie within one or cut across several of our programmes.
- Visiting Panels external evaluation by a panel of the quality and standing of UK research in a particular discipline, undertaken in conjunction with the relevant learned institutions.
- Researchfish - data collected from every funded research project provide information on specific achievements and are aggregated to provide an overview of the research outputs obtained.
Our approach is strongly evidence-based: evaluations are informed by internal and external data (including surveys) and, if required, by specially commissioned bespoke analyses of the academic and/or economic impact of research outcomes. Objectivity is assured through the use of peer review methods and external independent experts to form judgements. A common framework reflects our strategic objectives and assures a consistency of approach, focusing attention on key areas of interest including:
- The international standing and quality of UK research and researchers.
- The effectiveness of Knowledge Exchange and the impact on the UK’s economic competitiveness.
- The support provided to talented researchers throughout their careers.
The reports of all evaluation activities are published and form an important input into our business planning process.