Science must prepare for impact
To maintain public support, researchers need to be able to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of society and politicians, warns Guy Poppy.
What do scientists do for society? Some researchers may resent the increasing calls for them to demonstrate 'impact', but my time seconded to the UK Food Standards Agency as chief scientific adviser has convinced me that such pressure will only increase. Policymakers are no longer willing to hand over billions of pounds of taxpayers' money to scientists in exchange for a vague promise that something good will come from it.
What politicians and society expect from science is changing rapidly, and science must change with it, or risk losing public support. Academics and leaders of the scientific community must realize that the system is failing to prepare researchers to meet wider society's requirements.