Taking into account the need for international collaboration in science to address complex and inter-related societal, environmental and economic challenges, the overall objective of the Global Science Forum (GSF) is to support countries to improve their science policies and share in the benefits of international collaboration. GSF provides a venue for consultations and mutual learning among senior science policy officials of OECD member countries. It carries out analytical work on high-priority science policy issues. Specifically, the GSF serves its members in the formulation and implementation of their science policies by:
The GSF's principal customers are the government science policy officials who bring issues to the GSF for deliberation and analysis in an intergovernmental setting. Before any activity is undertaken, it is assessed in terms of quality, potential impact and relevance to the agreed strategic themes. All projects must have the support of several GSF members.
Mobilising science in response to crises: Lessons learned from COVID-19
Science was at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, with public research underpinning our understanding of the pandemic, the development of vaccines and therapies and policy interventions. This GSF project explored how the scientific community responded to the pandemic, what have been the challenges for an effective response and what science policy measures were most useful in facilitating such as response.
The main project outcome is a series of three STI policy reports that explore how science was mobilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
These policy reports were informed by a series of workshops that brought together international experts and representatives of relevant stakeholder communities. An important aspect of the workshops was mutual learning across countries.
GLOBAL SCIENCE FORUM PROJECTS (2023-2024)
The GSF programme of work for 2023-2024 builds on what has been achieved over previous years and responds to the specific challenges for many areas of science policy that have been raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research Infrastructure Policy
Research Infrastructures (RIs) have attracted increasing attention from policy makers in recent years. This is due, among other factors, to the increasing number and diversity of RIs, which now play a key role in all scientific disciplines.
The GSF has carried out extensive work on RI policy. Indeed, facilitating co-operation on large-scale RIs was the original reason for the creation of the Megascience Forum, the precursor of the GSF.
The GSF published a new report on Very Large Research Infrastructures (VLRIs) in July 2023. VLRIs are major long-term investments that serve the international research community and play a critical role in many scientific domains, from particle physics to ecology, and present unique challenges in terms of governance, sustainability and management. This report looks at how these challenges are being addressed throughout the lifecycle of such facilities and how policies might need to be adapted to deliver both scientific and socio-economic goals.
A new activity on RI ecosystems started in May 2023. RIs are most often embedded in complex networks with other RIs, research centres, universities and businesses. These ecosystems increase the impact and user-base of RIs. Synergistic collaboration and partnerships can empower RIs to better address complex scientific and societal challenges. However, there are also practical challenges that have to be overcome for these ecosystems to flourish. These challenges, from collaborative governance and integrated operation to funding and resource issues are being explored in this project.
Research workforce of the future
The new generation of scientists will be critical for developing the knowledge and technologies that are necessary for sustainable transitions. GSF has recently completed a number of projects that relate to future research workforce, including the work on precarity in research careers (2021) and career pathways for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers (2023).
One of the overall conclusions of these activities is that academic structures and hyper-competitive selection processes that mainly focus on ‘research excellence’– are not adequate to meet the future needs of science and of society. Underpinning this is the observation that the academic research workforce is poorly representative of the diversity in society as a whole.
A new GSF project that started in June 2023 is focusing specifically on how Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) can be promoted in academic research. The project will analyse and compare practices, and see whether there are any common structural and systematic barriers to EDI, and if so, how different countries are addressing these.
Trust in science and citizen science
Citizen science can have a number of aims, both scientific and societal and is often touted as a mechanism to promote trust in science. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of citizens in both identifying urgent research needs (e.g. ‘Long-COVID’ was identified by patient groups) and in collecting and providing critical research data. Citizen science can provide a mechanism to incorporate local and traditional knowledge into scientific research. However, there are concerns in some fields about the distortion of research through the active engagement of citizen groups, whose agendas and interests are not necessarily consistent with good scientific practice.
GSF has done previous work on citizen engagement through projects for open research agenda setting (2017), open and inclusive collaboration (2018) and transdisciplinary research to address societal challenges (2020), and began a new project on citizen science in June 2023. This project builds on existing initiatives and expands the learning across different countries and regions, with a focus on the policy actions that are necessary to facilitate citizen science.
Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of international scientific collaboration as well as the challenges that can arise when countries have divergent, economic, security and political interests. This project explored policy initiatives and actions to safeguard national and economic security whilst protecting freedom of enquiry, promoting international research cooperation, and ensuring openness and non-discrimination.
The GSF policy report on Integrity and Security in the Global Research Ecosystem was published in June 2022. Good practice examples/policy initiatives collected during the project can be accessed via the OECD-STIP Compass database, which is continuously updated. The project attracted growing interest from countries and the theme is being taken up in discussions within other multinational bodies. Progress will be reviewed by GSF in 2024.