The week started by attending a symposium to mark the opening of the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research, a research centre co-funded (to the tune of £5M each) by Astrazeneca and GSK – implying the highly pre-competitive nature (one might say ‘lack of understanding’) of this space. Inflammation seems like an area ripe for a systems approach.

We had the calendar year’s first meeting of Council, where the main theme was strategic planning, from the light touch refresh of the Strategic Plan to rehearsing and developing both nearer-term  plans and those – a subject of our summer strategic meeting – that are likely to be longer term.

I attended an enjoyable reflective symposium and celebration to mark 10 years of Sir Mark Walport’s leadership of the Wellcome Trust, as he moves to become the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. One of the topics mentioned was Open Access, where Sir Mark has exhibited considerable leadership.

It is always possible to find a reference that claims that a particular point of view is true, and one of the hallmarks of good science involves reviewing and weighing the balance of evidence appropriately. Thus one reason for scientists to publish Open Access is known as the Open Access Citation Advantage (OACA), based on the undemanding idea or proposition that if more folk can read your paper they are more likely to cite it. I am sometimes told – especially by those with a vested interest in claiming it – that (when relevant confounding factors are controlled) there is no OACA, but the balance of literature is overwhelmingly of the view that there is often a very considerable Open Access Citation Advantage. Annotated bibliographies are here and here, and a meta-analysis from 2010 here. In agriculture and in other fields where many readers are from countries that cannot afford library subscriptions, the OACA is several-fold. So, if gaining more citations is your goal, Open Access can definitely help.

We had a very useful regular bilateral with the Technology Strategy Board, discussing in particular Industrial Biotechnology and the Agri-tech strategy.

Finally, RCUK published a very nice booklet on the way we are Investing in Innovation (pdf).

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