Photograph of James Wilsdon

Professor James Wilsdon

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

Contact Details

Telephone Numbers: 
0114 22 20175 
+44 (0)771 076 0086

Room: DS14, 2nd Floor, Edgar Allan House,
241 Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2GW


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

I’m also Director of the Nexus Network, a £1.8m ESRC initiative to link research & policy across food, energy, water and the environment. Since 2013, I've been Chair of the Campaign for Social Science, and I led the working group for its 2015 report The Business of People.

I recently chaired a review of the role of metrics in the management of the UK’s research system, which published its final report The Metric Tide in July 2015. Building on this, I am now leading an expert panel for the European Commission on the role of altmetrics. I am also on the advisory board of Scientists for EU.

Previously, I worked as Professor of Science and Democracy at SPRU, University of Sussex (2011-2015), Director of Science Policy at the Royal Society (2008-2011), Head of Science and Innovation at Demos (2001-2008), Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University's Institute for Advanced Studies (2006-2008) and Senior Policy Adviser at Forum for the Future (1997-2001).

I contribute regularly to the media and am one of the editors of the Guardian's 'Political Science' blog on science and research policy. In 2015, I was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


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, EU and China; scientometrics; the future of the impact agenda; and public engagement in research.

My research affiliations include: associate fellow at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Science and Policy; affiliate of the University of Colorado's Centre for Science and Technology 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'm a member of the academic steering committee of the Open Library of Humanities, and the editorial board of Palgrave Communications, a new OA journal for the social sciences.

Key Projects

Currently I am working on three projects:

1. The Nexus Network
I am Director and PI of the Nexus Network, a £1.8m ESRC initiative, which aims to link research, policy and practice across food, water, energy and the environment. Since it was created in 2014, the network has run a series of workshops and conferences, funded pilot projects, and engaged actively with policymakers, businesses and civil society. More details can be found on the Nexus Network site.

2. International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)
INGSA was set up in 2014, to provide a forum for policymakers, practitioners, national academies, and academics to share experience, build capacity and develop theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government. INGSA’s secretariat is primarily based in Auckland, in the office of Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Together with Dr Stevie De Saille, I am now creating a UK hub for INGSA at the University of Sheffield, focused on research, preparation of case studies, event planning, impact, public engagement and other activities to help the network develop and grow.

3. Responsible metrics
Across research systems worldwide, policymakers, universities, funders and publishers 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, I am now aiming to research, develop and advance a framework for responsible metrics in the UK, EU and internationally. This includes chairing a new European Commission expert group on altmetrics, which was set up in January 2016. For more details, see the Responsible Metrics website.

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising two PhD students:

  • Andrew Hunter (SPRU, University of Sussex)
  • Laurence Williams (SPRU, University of Sussex)

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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