Research on research (also known as meta-research, the science of science and meta-science) is the study of research itself.
It’s an evolving discipline that aims to produce evidence on how to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, fairness and impact of research.
Wellcome, and the research we support, aims to be a social good. We’re acutely aware of the influence we have on research culture and systems. This influence can be used positively to drive change, and we want to help build a better research culture – one that is creative, inclusive and honest.
However, our own systems can have unintended consequences – such as sometimes creating a focus on outputs and increased productivity at the expense of how research is achieved. This is often underpinned by the decisions we make and how we make them at the strategic and individual funding level.
Research on research is important to help us better understand and improve our own funding practices and policies, and those of other funders.
We’ve launched the Research on Research Institute(opens in a new tab) – an international consortium of research funders, academic institutions and technologists working together to develop more open, inclusive and effective research systems.
Co-founded with the universities of Sheffield and Leiden, and Digital Science, the consortium will carry out transformative and translational research on research.
Specific activities include:
All research methodologies and findings will be openly available.
In May 2018, we launched a funding call to support researchers using multidisciplinary methods to improve how research is funded, conducted and evaluated.
The four grants we awarded are directly applicable to the funding sector and explore:
We’ve commissioned research to understand how Wellcome and other research funders can make better funding decisions.
This includes looking at:
To help understand the impact of how funders work, we’ve asked early career researchers who have submitted a funding application to Wellcome to tell us about how useful they found our feedback, and if the feedback on unsuccessful proposals was linked to their future plans.
We’re collaborating with Gemma Derrick and her team at Lancaster University(opens in a new tab) on this work.