Delayed publication of government-commissioned research inquiry unearths chaotic records and weak rules

A senior member of our University has welcomed a new report relating to government-commissioned research.

A report by former Lord Justice of Appeal, Rt Hon Sir Stephen Sedley into the scale and sources of delayed publication of government research has revealed widespread confusion in the way research commissioned by government is handled, both internally and with the public.

Sir Stephen’s report finds a lack of clarity about what constitutes government-commissioned research and what is subject to the publication rule. There are significant differences in the way departments report and record research; 11 government departments were unable to provide a list of research they have commissioned; of those, seven said that they didn’t hold that information centrally and it would be too costly to gather. Civil servants who gave evidence to the inquiry reported that departments spend significant time trying to find past studies that they commissioned and paid for.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Leicester, said: "This report is both timely and wise. With significant pressures on research budgets across the government and its agencies it is ridiculous that well-grounded research is not accessible to the wider research community as well as to subsequent generations of officials and politicians. The current system ties up scarce research effort often with little outcome to show for it - not for any good reason, simply because the research is not shared.  Universities and the Research Councils have already joined the impact club. Implementing this report will help government departments do the same."

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