Why sharing research outcomes is a vital part of environmental science

7 March 2018

As the deadline for submitting outcomes to Researchfish® approaches on 15 March 2018, Professor Stephen Mobbs, Director of the NERC's National Centre for Atmospheric Science, tells us how this endeavour helps us collectively make the case for continued investment in environmental science:

Professor Stephen Mobbs

Professor Stephen Mobbs, Director of NCAS.

The recent invitation, sent to all active and recent investigators in the NERC-funded community, to complete their Researchfish® return is a timely reminder of why we all do this. Last year, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published an international comparison of performance of UK research. This comparison with other research intensive countries contains some interesting data and conclusions. Not least, that the UK performs very well as measured by a number of metrics of research quality and impact.

Of particular interest to us as members of the NERC-funded community is that environmental sciences is the best performing scientific discipline in the UK as measured by citation impact. Much of this research is the result of NERC funding and is a measure of the excellence of the community as a whole.

Supporting and developing this productive community is a concern for all of us. There has never been a greater need for impactful environmental science. The solutions to a vast range of today's challenges for humankind depend on the environment. So, if we work collectively and smartly, we should be in a strong position to make the case for maintenance and enhancement of the funding for environmental science.

New and potentially enhanced opportunities may be just around the corner as NERC moves into a new phase of its existence as part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI). This is particularly true for tackling and solving broad and challenging problems which require a cross-disciplinary approach. Coming from an acknowledged leading scientific discipline, we should be well placed.

So how do we all collectively contribute towards building the case for the funding of environmental science research? One effective way is by ensuring that our research is fully recorded in Researchfish®. The data is used by NERC and other research councils to make the case to government for the effectiveness of UK investment in research and innovation. It is also used by BEIS to make its case for funding to HM Treasury.

So, by dedicating an hour or so of your time, you will be playing your part in helping to develop and grow our already excellent scientific discipline and you will be doing that for the benefit of the UK as a whole. That is why, as a still active researcher, I will be completing my entry over the coming days. It is also why, as Director of one of NERC's research centres - the National Centre for Atmospheric Science - I will be urging my staff to do the same. Please join in with this important endeavour.

Professor Stephen Mobbs