London, November 23, 2017 — As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, securing appropriate funding sources for science is among the primary challenges UK-based researchers want their government to tackle. An Elsevier/Ipsos MORI survey shows that 90 percent of UK-based researchers suggest that any European research funding no longer accessible to UK academic institutions after Brexit should be replaced by equivalent UK government funding. Moreover, a clear majority of researchers globally say the UK government should maintain the current free movement for EU researchers who wish to work in the UK.
These are some of the key findings presented in the survey BREXIT: Global researchers' views on opportunities and challenges, measuring opinions of more than 2,000 researchers globally on the implications of Brexit on the academic community. The survey was conducted jointly by Elsevier, the global information analytics business, and market research organization Ipsos MORI. While overall the study reports that researchers expect Brexit to have a negative impact on the research sector, it outlines researchers' preferences for strategies to maintain a vibrant UK and EU research sector in a post-Brexit world.
"Being aware of researcher preferences for specific actions in response to Brexit within three broad categories—funding, mobility, and collaboration—is important to help guide informed decision making," said Dr. Nick Fowler, Elsevier's chief academic officer. "While it's not surprising to see that researchers have concerns around the implications of Brexit, this study offers policy makers in academia and government, both within and outside the UK, insights into researchers' preferences."
In terms of funding, researchers globally, and particularly those in the UK, support tapping into alternative sources as EU funds threaten to dry up for UK science post-Brexit. However, 78 percent of UK-based researchers also indicate they want the European Union to ensure that UK research institutions continue to have access to EU Horizon 2020/FP9 research grants on the same basis as their counterparts in countries that remain in the European Union. Furthermore, 54 percent of researchers globally support the concept of creating a global research body similar to European Research Council.
"A sense of uncertainty over what happens next and the implications for the EU and UK research community regarding Brexit has been evident for some time," said Andrew Johnson, director of social research at Ipsos MORI. "What is more urgently discussed now are solutions and actions which mitigate against risk. Researchers clearly have views on this which deserve careful consideration."
In addition to funding, researchers would like to see the UK government make maintaining cross-border mobility a priority: 90 percent of UK-based researchers want the UK government to ensure the current free movement for EU researchers who wish to work in the UK. Support for this is also strong among EU researchers (80%) and non-EU researchers (70%). 72 percent of researchers globally would like to see simpler procedures for visa and British citizenship applications for EU researchers.
Similarly, and closely linked with mobility, 66% of researchers globally support the UK government maintaining or creating bilateral research collaboration with EU countries; 69 percent feel collaborations need to be created with countries outside of the EU.
When asked to identify which university-led actions are most important following Brexit, UK-based researchers prioritise partnering with EU universities (49%), followed by offering legal assistance to EU staff (47%) and setting up a designated office for EU staff to provide information and assistance on Brexit issues (47%).
A summary of the survey results and full report are available on Elsevier's Brexit Resource Centre.
Technical note: The survey was informed by qualitative interviews with research leaders, and aimed to answer questions concerning Brexit coming directly from the research community in a quantitative format. The survey was carried out in two waves: May and October 2017. Each survey included 25+ questions and each had more than 2,000 respondents globally. The findings cited here are based on the October 2017 study. A total of 2,170 interviews were conducted among UK-based (1,242), EU-based (452) and globally-based (476) researchers. Fieldwork was conducted online between 29th September and 17th October 2017 using a random selection of respondents from Elsevier's Scopus database. The sample was profiled by country and subject speciality. The UK-based population was purposefully oversampled. Data were weighted to reflect the OCED distribution of researchers by geography.
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