Our approach

Theme strategy in relation to Balancing Capability

Physical Science enables a broad spectrum of activity across the EPSRC, industry and the wider scientific community. The vision of the Physical Sciences Theme is to support UK physical scientists to deliver the very best research and training to provide an internationally competitive research portfolio, that is balanced and engaged, to meet the Nation’s needs.

To deliver this vision we have developed strategies that couple supporting excellence in physical sciences with a focus on research that benefits the future health of areas and delivers against national needs.

Key engagement activities

The EPSRC Physical Sciences Theme has been working with its Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) as well as stakeholders in academia, industry and the third sector to establish an overview of the quality, national importance and capacity in the physical sciences research areas in order to refresh the strategic trajectories identified by EPSRC at the start of the previous Delivery Plan. Information has been gathered about this research area landscape at a number of levels including:

  • Regional workshops during spring 2015 in London, Glasgow, and Nottingham, offered the opportunity to input views on broad topics of relevance to strategy development across the physical sciences. These included the potential of physical science areas to contribute to the EPSRC Outcomes Framework, infrastructure needs, the need for and realities of conducting successful non-academic collaborations, supporting adventurous research, and ensuring appropriate support of people.
  • Theme university visits afforded the opportunity to input at discipline and area levels on the current landscape and visions for the future.
  • Engagement of REF 2014 panel members from the most relevant Units of Assessment, widened theme understanding of the UK research effort beyond EPSRC funding and initiatives.

Team level activities have complemented the engagement of individual team members with key stakeholders including professional bodies. Evidence has been reviewed and considered with input from EPSRC’s advisory streams at a number of stages.

In order to develop action categories, individual area strategies were discussed with advisory teams and members of the community to better understand the needs of the area to deliver the strategy, the effect it might have on the level of activity in an area by the end of the Delivery Plan, and consider what role EPSRC should play in its delivery. Looking across all research areas, action categories have been determined which best support the landscape as a whole.

Key evidence sources

The EPSRC Call for Evidence in Balancing Capability resulted in the community providing 462 of the 1012 total documents. The call for evidence submissions reinforced the strategic direction in a number of portfolios with the evidence supporting existing portfolio knowledge.

The following evidence sources were particularly useful for the whole of the theme or broad topics within it:

The above list is not exhaustive and should be considered in addition to the evidence sources detailed on individual research area rationales, and the approach pages of other themes.