James Wilsdon

Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) / Digital Science Professor of Research Policy, University of Sheffield

James Wilsdon

Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) / Digital Science Professor of Research Policy, University of Sheffield


I am an interdisciplinary social scientist who works on the governance and management of science and research, and the relationship between evidence and decision-making. Over my career, in addition to academic posts at the universities of Sheffield, Sussex and Lancaster, I’ve worked in public policy, think tanks and at the UK’s national academy of science.

Since 2016, I’ve been based at the University of Sheffield, where I am now Digital Science Professor of Research Policy and Director of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) – an international consortium of research funders, academic institutions, and technologists working to champion transformative and translational research on research. Co-founded by the Wellcome Trust, the universities of Sheffield and Leiden, and Digital Science, RoRI will analyse research systems and experiment with decision and evaluation data, tools and frameworks, in order to advance more strategic, open, diverse and inclusive research.

I am also vice-chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), which was set up in 2014 to share good practices and build capacity for evidence-informed decision making, and now has over 4500 members from 90+ countries.

In 2015, I was elected a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and I now chair its Policy Working Group. I am also a founding member of the Forum for Responsible Research Metrics, and a member of the British Academy’s Higher Education Policy Development Group, the Sciencewise advisory group, and the Civil Service Policy Profession’s Academic Engagement steering group.

From 2013 to 2017, I led the UK’s Campaign for Social Science, and from 2014-2015, I chaired an independent government review of the role of metrics in the management of the research system, published as The Metric Tide. I subsequently chaired an expert panel on Next Generation Metrics for the European Commission. I also directed the ESRC’s Nexus Network, a £1.7m initiative to link research and policy on food, energy and water.

Previously, I worked as professor of science and democracy in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex (2011-15); director of science policy at the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science (2008-11); head of science and innovation at the think tank Demos (2001-08); senior research fellow at Lancaster University’s Institute for Advanced Studies (2006-08); senior policy adviser at Forum for the Future (1997-01); and special adviser to the UK Sustainable Development Commission (2000-01).

I also contribute regularly to the media, and co-edit the Political Science blog on science policy, hosted by the Guardian from 2013-2018 and now at *Research. I’m on the editorial advisory panel of the open access journal Palgrave Communications.

All session by James Wilsdon