David Sweeney

Executive Chair, Research England

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, David Sweeney will not be able to attend the meeting in person. However, he will be remotely delivering his presentation via video feed in the plenary session on Tuesday 26 March.

After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, David worked at two BBSRC research institutes, as a consultant statistician before developing mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspects of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and he was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research) in 2004. In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities

He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He was responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations.

In May 2017 he was appointed the first Executive Chair of Research England, a new council established as part of UK Research and Innovation, alongside the seven disciplinary Research Councils and the UK Innovation Agency.  Research England is the  biggest research funder in the UK with responsibility for university block-grant funding for research and knowledge exchange.  In UKRI he has particular responsibilities for Place (Regional Funding), Commercialisation and Open Science

David has been invited to visit many countries to advise on research assessment and funding, particularly with respect to research impact. He is also co-chair of the Implementation Task Force for Plan S, the international initiative on full and immediate open access to research publications.

David was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.



New Measurement Paradigms in Research: ‘What is High-Quality Research in the 21st Century’

This presentation will look at the current challenges for the assessment of research quality. In an environment where government are looking ever harder at the case of investment in research and innovation against competition from health, the environment, and social imperatives we will look at academic impact and societal impact and different ways of recognising both. With the pressures on academics and their careers, and also at the importance of open access we will look at the implications of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment and new Open Access initiatives such as Plan S. With the pressures on university budgets we will look at the competition for investment between education and research.