Photograph of James Wilsdon

Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS

Professor of Research Policy, Department of Politics
Director of Research and Innovation, Faculty of Social Sciences

Contact Details

Telephone Numbers: 
0114 222 8343
+44 (0)771 076 0086

Room: 4th Floor, ICOSS, 219 Portobello Sheffield S1 4DP

Executive Assistant: Jayne Parkin


In January 2016, I joined the Department of Politics as Professor of Research Policy. I combine this with a role as Director of Impact and Engagement for the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Associate Director in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

I’m a programme leader for the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), and vice-chair of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA).

In 2015, I was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and I now chair its Policy Working Group.

From 2013 to 2017, I chaired the UK’s Campaign for Social Science, and I also led an independent review of the role of metrics in the management of the UK’s research system, which published its final report in 2015 as The Metric Tide. Building on this, I recently chaired an expert panel on Next Generation Metrics for the European Commission.

From 2014 to 2017, I was Director of the Nexus Network, an ESRC initiative to link research & policy across food, energy, water and the environment. Previously, I worked as Professor of Science and Democracy at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex (2011-2015); Director of Science Policy at the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science (2008-2011); Head of Science and Innovation at the think tank Demos (2001-2008); Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University's Institute for Advanced Studies (2006-2008); Senior Policy Adviser at Forum for the Future (1997-2001); and special adviser to the UK Sustainable Development Commission (2000-2001).

I contribute regularly to the media and am one of the editors of the Guardian's 'Political Science' blog on science and research policy, and a regular contributor to Wonkhe. I am also a member of the editorial advisory panel of open access journal Palgrave Communications. You can find me on twitter @jameswilsdon.


My research interests include the role of evidence & expertise in policymaking; the politics and practice of scientific advice; interdisciplinarity, particularly between natural and social sciences; science, research and innovation policy in the UK, Europe and China; scientometrics; the future of the impact agenda; and public engagement in research.

My affiliations include: Vice-Chair of the International Network for Government Scientific Advice; associate fellow in the Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics; associate fellow in the University of Cambridge's Centre for Science and Policy; member of the Governing Council of the Science and Democracy Network; and member of the Governing Board of CISTRAT (International Research and Training Centre for Science and Technology Strategy) in Beijing.

As someone who tries to engage with policy and public audiences, I'm a strong supporter of open access, and aim whenever possible to publish my own work in OA formats. I am on the editorial board of Palgrave Communications, a new interdisciplinary OA journal for the social sciences.

Key Projects

Currently I am working on three projects:

1. International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)

INGSA was set up in 2014, to provide a forum for policymakers, practitioners, national academies to share experience, build capacity and develop new approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government. INGSA’s main secretariat is based in Auckland, in the office of Sir Peter Gluckman, New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor. With my colleague Dr Jasper Montana, I lead a knowledge and research hub for INGSA at the University of Sheffield, focused on comparative research, case studies, policy engagement and other activities to help the INGSA network to develop and grow.

2. Centre for Global Higher Education

I lead one of the programme areas for the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), and am developing a new strand of work on how reforms to research policy, funding and assessment will influence higher education in the UK and internationally.

3. Responsible metrics

Research leaders worldwide are grappling with how to measure and assess the qualities and impacts of research. Building on my independent review of metrics in research management, published in July 2015 as The Metric Tide, and my recent expert panel for the European Commission on Next Generation Metrics for open science, I am working with others to develop frameworks for responsible metrics in the UK, EU and internationally.

PhD Supervision

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; or the role of metrics in research management and governance.


Click here for a full list of publications

Key publications include:

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