How Swedish research can be strengthened

Sweden needs to increase research quality to strengthen its position as a leading research nation. In the report "Increased Swedish research quality to benefit society", the Swedish Research Council gives its views on what is needed.

Sweden shall be one of the world's foremost research and innovation countries and a leading knowledge nation, where high-quality research, higher education and innovation lead to society's development and welfare, the competitiveness of business and respond to the societal challenges we face, both in Sweden and globally.

This is the government´s research policy objective. The Swedish Research Council has identified four areas that need to be prioritised in order for Sweden to reach the goal and for Swedish research to become even more pioneering, competitive and useful:

1. Strengthen long-term funding of researcher-initiated research and strong research environments

Long-term support for independent, researcher-initiated research and strong research environments provides prerequisites for daring to invest in risk-taking projects with the potential to be ground-breaking. Complex societal challenges require that we build up a strong knowledge base, founded in researcher-initiated research as well as in targeted initiatives. Quality-driving prioritisation processes are a key factor, as are gender equality, international collaboration and cooperation between research and the society around us.

2. Strengthen the long-term approach to prioritising and funding research infrastructure

The long-term approach to prioritising and funding research infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Some of the measures we propose are that a new strategic plan is developed in dialogue with the research community, a new model for better managing increased costs, and better coordination of existing e-infrastructure. When developing new infrastructures, the needs of internationally competitive research, innovation and society shall form the starting point. To promote competence build-up and Swedish growth, the economic and knowledge returns on memberships of international research infrastructures should increase.

3. Safeguard the freedom of research, trust in research, and good research culture

Independent higher education institutions with critically reflecting researchers who can freely seek and spread knowledge are fundamental prerequisites for a democratic and strong society. A good research culture, where ongoing discussion about good research practice and ethics is maintained, is fundamental for safeguarding trust in research and for research quality. Having strong trust in research and understanding of what research is and why it is needed is crucial for society’s development and ability to manage the challenges of today and of the future.

4. Create good prerequisites for the best researchers to make research careers attractive

Develop the dialogue between the research funding bodies and higher education institutions on how the prerequisites for the best researchers to conduct research can be improved. Attractive career paths and employment conditions are a prerequisite for Swedish higher education institutions being able to recruit and retain the best researchers and create research environments of high international standard. With a high level of competence, Sweden can compete with the rest of the world.

The report ”Stärkt svensk forskningskvalitet till nytta för samhället” (Increased Swedish research quality to benefit society) presents in-depth reasoning on the challenges within each area and suggested actions. The report forms part of the foundation for the Swedish Research Council's long-term work, and for our recommendations to the Government on research policy issues. It also forms a basis for our input to the coming Government research bill.




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