Environment, natural resources and agriculture research: strategy 2022 to 2027

We fund a multi-million pound portfolio of research on the environment, natural resources and agriculture. This strategy outlines our vision, priorities and mechanisms for funding the next cycle of research which starts in 2022.

This document is part of a collection

7. Governance and Reporting


The governance of the research programme has evolved over time, and will be refreshed for the next funding cycle. An independent external review[8] recommended that additional value would be gained by avoiding barriers between the different funding mechanisms used. This is consistent with the recommendations of the Strategic Advisory Board[9]. The Strategic Advisory Board discussed the options for future governance of the programme in 2020 and 2021, endorsing the structure outlined below.

A "Research Portfolio Board" will oversee the whole portfolio of research funded by the programme including the Centres of Expertise. Its members will represent the users of research in Scottish Government and external stakeholders, the research providers through an updated SEFARI, and independent advice from the Scientific Advisory Board. The Portfolio Board's key role is to balance the aims of the programme, notably providing particular research evidence and sustaining national research capabilities. The board will be supported by three subgroups covering scientific, operational and institutional issues (Figure 4).

The SAB has recommended that the research programme would benefit from a more strategic approach. The scientific strand will embed this forward-looking work, for example, reviewing and updating this research strategy. The Centre for Knowledge Exchange, the proposed horizon scanning activity, the SAB and Theme Leaders from the research portfolio will be involved.

The operational strand will continue to oversee the allocation of funding and post-award reporting as is undertaken at present.

The institutional strand will address non-science strategy and major financial issues that arise, systemically or for specific research organisations.

Figure 4: Proposed governance structure.
Organisation chart showing the hierarchy of the elements of the governance structure.

The Research Portfolio Board will be co-chaired by a senior Scottish Government official (SG) and the Chief Scientific Advisor for Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (CSA). The three governance strands will bring government and research providers together to address different aspects of the research. Two existing bodies are noted, the Operational Group (of Scottish Government officials and research providers) and Directors Executive Committee (the SEFARI Directors). The latter will be expanded to include directors of the Centres of Expertise.

As part of our initiative to drive a culture of openness in the next research portfolio, we have developed a policy on open research and FAIR data sharing that will apply across the portfolio, aligned with other relevant funders. We will also establish reporting mechanisms which are, as far as possible, comparable to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), making available maximum visibility on the work carried out and capturing the benefits that have accrued.

How we will monitor progress

We already monitor and evaluate our investment in research, requiring deliverables from every project. We will develop this further by taking the following measures:

  • For the work within the Strategic Research Programme we will collect, and make public, measures of science excellence, benchmarked against other research funders on the basis of scientific quality measures that are appropriate to the range of research that we fund.
  • Immediate delivery measures will continue to be reviewed in the operational strand of governance on an ongoing basis with timing appropriate to the research timescales, and with summary reports to the Scientific Advisory Board and proposed Research Portfolio Board.
  • We will continue to undertake an independent mid-term review of the portfolio of research activity, engaging fully with stakeholders of the research as part of this.
  • For all research we fund, we will collect and make public information based upon case studies, user testimonies and, where possible, economic valuations, to demonstrate the impact and value of research on an economic and societal basis.
  • The six objectives described in Section 3 will be reviewed in turn, along with science quality and impact, by the science or institutional strands of governance (summarised to Scientific Advisory Board and Research Portfolio Board) to inform the summative mid-term review.
  • Throughout 2022 - 2027 we will continue to develop and refine the indicators we collect, recognising that detecting and understanding the impact of strategic research may take place over longer timescales than the more immediate and policy-focused research.


Email: helen.m.jones@gov.scot

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