New one-stop shop to find the topics government is interested in researching

A new database of Areas of Research Interest has been developed by the Government Office for Science and the Economic and Social Research Council

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Dame Angela McLean speaking at the launch of the new Areas of Research Interest database.

A new tool which brings together all Areas of Research Interest (ARI) documents from across government departments in a one-stop shop is now live.

ARIs are lists of research questions or topics which government departments and agencies would welcome more research on to inform their policies and help close the evidence policy gap.

This new database allows anyone accessing it to search for particular areas of research interest, and find out what are the main research questions facing government departments.

If applicable, the database will also find research already funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and connected to the searched topic, thereby making it easier to identify existing evidence and experts in the field.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean said: “ARIs are a mechanism to improve engagement between policy officials, funders and experts in the UK and provide a clear indication of government priorities in tackling societal issues.

“This database will help officials, funders and experts in the UK to spot better opportunities to collaborate more effectively and shape their activities in response.”

Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Jennifer Rubin said: “I am delighted to see the launch of this database, which constitutes a lasting legacy for the collaboration between Government and the Economics and Social Research Council. The database will enable more efficient working together across departments and with funders and the UK academic base to address the many societal challenges that will benefit from research expertise.”

Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UKRI, Stian Westlake said: “The Areas of Research Interest Database offers a new and powerful way to connect rigorous research to urgent policy challenges. By connecting policymakers facing thorny questions to the UK’s talented researchers, the database offers new hope for solutions to hitherto intractable problems.

“Connecting research to societal challenges is a central part of ESRC’s mission, so we are delighted to support the launch of the ARI Database.”

This new tool improves accessibility, transparency and openness around the knowledge priorities of departments, improving opportunities for collaboration and prioritisation. ARIs can be found in the database via keywords, year, government department and via other basic metadata.

The tool has been developed and co-funded by the Government Office for Science and ESRC, as a response to widespread demand to improve both the awareness and accessibility of ARIs. To date, over 1,500 ARIs have been published and are publicly available in pdf or html format on GOV.UK.

The database was produced by Overton, a pioneering technology start-up whose mission is to support evidence-based decision-making across the world.

Government Office for Science