Professor James Wilsdon

MA (Oxon), DProf (Middlesex)

Information School

Digital Science Professor of Research Policy

Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI)

James Wilsdon
+44 7731 592796

Full contact details

Professor James Wilsdon
Information School
Regent Court (IS)
211 Portobello
S1 4DP

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, academics and technologists with a mission to accelerate transformational and translational research on research systems, cultures and decision-making. RoRI’s consortium now includes 20 research funders from 15 countries, who between them invest over US$ 23bn each year in research and innovation.

Since the late-1990s, as a researcher, writer, policy adviser and social entrepreneur, I’ve worked at the heart of science and research policy in the UK and internationally. I’ve pioneered and advanced concepts such as upstream public engagement, science diplomacy, responsible metrics and responsible research assessment; and have co-founded or chaired initiatives such as People & Planet; the Campaign for Social Science; the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA); the UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics; the Royal Society Science Policy Centre. and the Research on Research Institute (RoRI). 

In 2014, I was invited to chair an independent UK government review of research metrics, published as The Metric Tide. I subsequently chaired a European Commission expert group on Next Generation Metrics. 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) at the University of Sussex (2011-15); director of science policy at the Royal Society (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); special adviser to the UK Sustainable Development Commission (2000-01); and senior policy adviser at Forum for the Future (1997-01).

I contribute regularly to the media, and from 2013-18, I co-edited The Guardian’s ‘Political Science’ blog (now hosted by Research Professional) and I have also written for the Financial Times, Nature, Science, Times Higher Education, Research Fortnight and Wonkhe. In 2015, I was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, I serves on the editorial board of the OA journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications and tweet @jameswilsdon.

Research interests

My research interests include:

  • research on research and meta-research – particularly analysis of systems of funding, evaluation and assessment;
  • science and research policy in the UK, EU and internationally;
  • public engagement, equality, diversity and inclusion in research cultures;
  • evidence in decision-making and the politics and practice of scientific advice.

I'm a strong supporter of open access, and aim whenever possible to publish my own work in OA formats. I’m also on the editorial advisory panel of Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, an interdisciplinary open-access journal for the social sciences.


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles


  • Higton J, Welford J, Pinfield S, Wilsdon J, Steer R & Birkin G (2021) UKRI open access review: Consultation analysis RIS download Bibtex download

Working papers

All publications


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Wilsdon JR (2018) The Brexit experience — evidence, expertise, and post-truth politics. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, Vol. vol. 151(part 1, 2018) (pp 45-49). Sydney, Australia, 29 November 2017 - 29 November 2017. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Carpenter T & Wilsdon J (2015) Metrics and Assessment. Insights the UKSG journal, Vol. 28(2) (pp 33-38) RIS download Bibtex download


Working papers


Teaching interests

I would be pleased to hear from prospective PhD students, particularly those looking to work on: meta-research and meta-science; research assessment and evaluation; the politics of scientific advice; or the role of metrics in research management and governance. Currently, I co-supervise two PhD students: George Asiamah and Hollie Henderson.