Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS
Professor of Research Policy, Department of Politics
Telephone: +44 (0)771 076 0086
Room: 3rd Floor, ICOSS, 219 Portobello Sheffield S1 4DP
I am an interdisciplinary social scientist who works on the politics and governance of science and research, and the relationship between evidence, experts 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 in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Politics as professor of research policy, combined with a strategic leadership role in the Faculty of Social Sciences. I’m also an associate director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and a member of the university’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education.
Beyond Sheffield, I am vice-chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA), which was set up in 2014 to share good practice and build capacity for evidence-informed decision making, and now has over 4000 members from 80+ 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; a member of the advisory board of Scientists for EU; a member of the British Academy’s Higher Education Policy Development Group; a member of the Sciencewise advisory group; a member of the Civil Service Policy Profession’s Academic Engagement steering group; and a panel member for the current independent review of Scotland’s research pooling initiative.
From 2013 to 2017, I chaired the UK’s Campaign for Social Science, and led an independent government review of the role of metrics in the management of the research system, published in 2015 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.
My research interests include:
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 Palgrave Communications, a leading interdisciplinary open access journal for the social sciences.
Currently, I am working on five projects:
1. Research on research
2. International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)
3. S4D4C – Using Science In/For Diplomacy For Addressing Global Challenges
4. The Real-Time REF Review
5. ASPECT - A social sciences platform for entrepreneurship, commercialisation and transformation
I am one of the module leaders of the MA module on Analysing the Policy Process, which examines different stages of the policy process, and explores a range of theoretical and practical approaches to contemporary policymaking.
I would be pleased to hear from prospective PhD students, particularly those looking to work on: the politics of scientific advice; evidence and expertise in policymaking; research on research; or the role of metrics in research management and governance.
Currently, I am co-supervising two Grantham Scholar PhD students: Kaisa Pietila and George Asiamah.
Key publications include: