Research Futures 2.0: A new look at the drivers and scenarios that will define the decade

Download the document from Elsevier.

Since early 2020, the pandemic has transformed every aspect of researchers’ work. We felt the time was ripe to revisit our first report and consider how the themes and scenarios we identified two years earlier were playing out, particularly in light of COVID-19. During 2020 and 2021, we conducted two separate
researcher surveys asking questions on a broad range of topics, from collaboration to education and from
open science to public engagement. We reviewed the world of research through the changes of the past two years. We also asked researchers to help us understand the impact of the pandemic on their work. In total, 1,066 researchers in 2020 and 1,173 in 2021 from a multitude of disciplines and locations responded to our surveys…

Looking at the three scenarios identified in our 2019 report, we see that elements of each is coming true. We have flagged these elements in the essays – look out for the “scenario match” boxes. That only some aspects are materializing is not surprising: as we noted in the original report, no single scenario has to be correct; aspects of just one could become reality or they might combine in any variety of ways. We have also flagged progress on the drivers of change identified in our original study that allowed us to formulate the scenarios. We used a traffic light system to convey whether or not we feel a driver is evolving in the way we anticipated: red for no progress, amber for some progress, and green for clear signs of progression.

Importantly, this latest study has confirmed one of the key findings of our original report, which is that we are at a tipping point and the shifts to come would be transformative. If we are to ensure that this change is sustainable, action will be needed in unison across all the areas we’ve examined. This study underlines that all of us who work in the world of research share responsibility for creating a new environment in which research can flourish. None of us can do it alone, particularly now.

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