RESEARCH AND PUBLIC OPINION

Volume 1, Issue 2 – 2011

In this issue, academic leaders from the United States, Ireland, Japan and Mexico explore the symbiotic relationship between research and public opinion. Academic institutions are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate the value, impact and outcomes of their research in terms of societal benefits. You will read how academic institutions are responding to these demands, and taking the pulse of and communicating with the public.

Sharing its story: UC San Diego brings home its global reputation for research excellence

Interview with Marye Anne Fox, UC San Diego

Chancellor Fox discusses the University of California, San Diego's global reputation/regional impact, funding successes and challenges, and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. "It’s a challenge to manage public opinion when a large part of the public may not understand the difference between an operating budget and a capital budget."

Drivers and benefits of research policy and information systems within the UK

By Scott Rutherford, Queen's University Belfast

It is no surprise that the need for research information comes from both internal and external drivers. Perhaps the most important external driver for information within the UK context is the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an initiative of the four UK higher education funding bodies to assess the performance of UK researchers.

In the wake of 3-11, Japanese academics must further increase understanding of and interest in science and technology in Japan

By Yoichiro Matsumoto, The University of Tokyo

Before the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident — of March 11, 2011 (3-11), struck Japan, our faculty members within science and technology (S&T) were already under pressure. Historically, professors have been accorded much respect in Japan, and the academic freedom offered at universities presented a desirable career option. However, changing attitudes and conditions have tempered benefits and diminished the pool of next-generation aspirants.

Eye on Mexico: Public support for science is high, but transition to a research-based economy remains the challenge

By Edmundo A. Gutiérrez-D., National Institute for Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics, Mexico

Most Mexican companies are oriented towards low-tech production and commercialization of imported goods, while the government is steering the research community, through the evaluation process, towards an international qualification level, which is not correlated with the country’s current industrial needs. This disconnect is hindering the transition toward a more technology-oriented base economy. There is an urgent need to build confidence in the joint university-industry relationship and to reorient high-skilled human resources to meet Mexico’s industrial and technology needs.