How we can meet the need for research infrastructure
In order for Sweden to continue being an internationally competitive research nation, we need to invest in research infrastructure. The Swedish Research Council’s Guide to research infrastructure 2023 highlights nine recommendations for meeting both new and changed needs in Swedish research.
The Swedish Research Council’s Guide to infrastructure 2023 is a plan for how Swedish researchers in academia, the public sector and industry are to access the most sophisticated research infrastructure in Sweden and other countries. It is also a roadmap for Sweden’s long-term need for national and international research infrastructure.
Lisbeth Olsson is the Secretary General for Research Infrastructure at the Swedish Research Council, and underlines the need for long-term, attractive and sustainable investments in the area.
“We are, for example, seeing that the investments in the large-scale infrastructures in Sweden – ESS, MAX IV and EISCAT-3D – are of great importance to Swedish research and to our international attractiveness and visibility. It is also important that the infrastructure for computing and storage resources, NAISS, continues to get good conditions for supporting Swedish research.”
The guide includes nine recommendations for meeting both new and changed needs in Swedish research. The recommendations are central to the Swedish Research Council’s input into the upcoming Government research bill.
Nine recommendations for research infrastructure
- Long-term, safeguarded appropriations intended for research infrastructure are needed to allow the Swedish Research Council to manage increased costs of both national and international research infrastructure. New investments in research infrastructure shall be based on strategic considerations and be identified via a needs inventory that is widely accepted.
- As most research infrastructures have a very long life-cycle, there is a need to be able to change both the form and the level of support during the life-cycle. To enable work on development and prioritisation of research infrastructure when different needs are compared, it is very important that the research infrastructures are evaluated and weighed against the needs of research and the development of the entire infrastructure landscape.
- When the research frontier moves forwards, changed and new needs for research infrastructure areas arise, and this needs to be recognised in the processes that govern their funding and prioritising. The Swedish Research Council works to recognise infrastructure needs in all scientific fields.
- To interest the most able researchers in a research infrastructure, attractive career paths are needed. Opportunities for competence development need to increase to address the need for advanced user support at the infrastructures.
- Sweden shall work to ensure memberships of international research infrastructures provide better returns, both in the form of competence and economic growth. The prioritisations that needs inventories and evaluations lead to should be included in the deliberations made in relation to international research infrastructures.
- Large-scale infrastructures in Sweden, such as ESS, MAX IV, SciLifeLab and NAISS, offer great potential for Swedish researchers and the business sector. Long-term resources for their operation and development needs to be safeguarded, from the government, the higher education institutions and other stakeholders. Demands for the highest international standard should be placed on their operation.
- As different research fields and different phases of an infrastructure’s life-cycle have differing funding needs, new grant forms need to be introduced so that the funding responds to these needs.
- Special financial initiatives need to be made to allow infrastructures to adapt to and support increased open accessibility to research data. The work towards open access to research data must be done in a coordinated way and in collaboration between higher education institutions, research infrastructures and research funding bodies. When adapting Swedish legislation, attention needs to be paid to the opportunities for research to use existing data.
- Increased and broadened coordination of the work with research infrastructures focused on a strategic agenda that engages the research community and other actors makes the Swedish Research Council a stronger research policy adviser on issues relating to research infrastructure.
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