Friday 14 June 2019

UKRI Delivery Plan Top Trumps

For us research policy nerds, the past week has been like Christmas. Each of the constituent parts of UK Research and Innovation, as well as the all seeing eye that watches over them, have all produced their Delivery Plans.

These flesh out the - ahem -  'Strategic Prospectus', which was published last year. How long are these valid for? Well, that's moot, but at least until the next Comprehensive Spending Review (so 2019-20) after which it will 'update our 'near-term actions' to reflect the financial years covered in the SR.'

There's a slight sense of recalcitrance, of feet being dragged. 'These delivery plans are a legal requirement under section 100 of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017,' whines UKRI, as if ideally it wouldn't have produced them.

So the whole thing is a slightly odd beast. It gives some certainty and indication of travel - but with a large caveat hanging over the whole thing. However, if the government is serious about spending 2.4% of GDP on R&D by 2027 (and the Delivery Plans don't want it to forget this, mentioning it an impressive 45 times through the 10 brochures), the spending will materialise in roughly the percentages the DPs suggest, to be distributed in broadly the areas they propose.

340 pages of buzz words is a lot to wade through so, as part of Fundermentals' ever-present commitment to public service, here are the Top Trumps for the Delivery Plans. You can see how much each is hoping to spend, how many pages it takes them to say it, how many case studies they use to illustrate how worthwhile the whole thing is, and, most importantly, how many times they mention 2.4%.

Of course, there were lots of other metrics that could be used. How many times they mention 'interdisciplinary' (average 5.6 times, ranging from a surprising 0 for ESRC and Innovate UK, and an over-eager 14 for the AHRC). Or we could look at how many pictures of scientists looking at complicated equipment there are in each, or, even better, the number of bewildering diagrams they use to explain their mission, objectives and priorities.

But I don't want to spoil it for you. Here's a little taster (with a frankly implausable smorgasbord of lookalikes), but if you want the full Moby Dick, experience the full Kahuna, here.

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