Programmatic Review

The purpose of the Programmatic Review is to define a balanced programme of excellent science within a realistic financial planning envelope. As a part of this procedure, a prioritisation for projects and science areas will be defined. This will be used in deciding whether planning provision should be made within the programme for a given area or project, and as part of the process of deciding the size of any such provision.

The Programmatic Review is thus designed to inform planning decisions and to help optimise excellent science and dedicated impact programme in any financial scenario (positive, negative or neutral). The level and timing of funding for any project or area may be affected by the overall funding available. In the event of greater or smaller financial resources being available, decisions will need to take into account excellence, balance, costs, and spend profile in a way that goes beyond considering just raw ratings. Future unanticipated opportunities will also be assessed in a consistent way, when they arise over the next few years, and this will help STFC decide whether and how they should be accommodated within the programme at that time.

Current Review

expand Programmatic Review 2013

The STFC programme was reviewed from June 2012 to September 2013 by Science Board.

To put in place the necessary expertise, sub-groups carried out a detailed review of four areas – PPAN, Large Facilities, Technology and Impact.

Input was also be received from the Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics and Astronomy Advisory Panels and the Physical and Life Sciences Advisory Panels.

The Terms of Reference for the review and Programmatic Review Process Flow and Timescales and a detailed Meeting Schedule Diagram are now available.

The Programmatic Review Report 2013 is now available.

Programmatic Review News

expand First Announcement

The STFC programme will be reviewed from June 2012 to September 2013 (planned reporting date) by Science Board.

The Programmatic Review ensures that the UK remains at the forefront of the science we support by considering regularly the quality, effectiveness and impact of our programme. The 2012-13 review will build on the processes and lessons of the 2009 and earlier reviews.

The Programmatic Review will ensure that funded activities continue to meet our strategy. It will inform our strategic and financial planning and recommend a future research portfolio. This ensures there is capacity and flexibility to take advantage of strategically important future opportunities.

This review will consider all aspects of the STFC programme including grant funded research, laboratory departments, facilities and the impact programmes (for example Public Engagement or the Futures programme).

Community input is vital and will include working with the Advisory Panels on updates to the roadmaps and project / facility information. We will provide regular updates on how the review will be conducted and which activities will be reviewed in which ways, so please return to these pages for updates.

We will also be providing clear briefing to all those involved, either on the advisory panels or who will be required to return evidence to the review.

You can find further information including the Terms of Reference for the review. We will provide regular updates here too.

expand Next steps June 2012

Preparations for the next programmatic review have been underway for a few months with discussions both internally and with Science Board. The next steps are to start the data collection and for the Advisory Panels to start updating their roadmaps.

Data Collection

In the next couple of weeks we will be starting our data collection.

Proformas will be sent to PIs on all the particle physics, astronomy and nuclear physics projects to be reviewed. A list of all these projects will be available on the communities site once this has happened.

Large facilities will be invited to input in August, when the Research Councils Science Requirements document is available. STFC departments and institutes will also be invited to provide input to review in the form of a proforma.

Advisory Panels

If you wish to have input into the Programmatic Review you can do this via the relevant Advisory Panel. Advisory Panels have been asked to update their roadmaps and provide information on the technology needs of the community. The Advisory Panels relevant to the facilities have been asked to provide a long term vision on facility requirements. Details about the Advisory Panel membership will be available shortly.

expand PAAP Consultation August 2012

The Particle Astrophysics Advisory panel has launched its consultation with a deadline of 14 September 2012.

Introduction

The Particle Astrophysics Advisory Panel (PAAP) has been charged with updating the science vision and roadmap for particle astrophysics in the UK for the STFC's ongoing Programmatic Review. As part of this process, we invite the community to share its views on current and future science opportunities in particle astrophysics.

Key questions that we will address include:

  • What are the top scientific challenges in Particle Astrophysics to be solved in the next 20-30 years?
  • What current and future facilities will be needed for the UK to make significant contributions to these areas?
  • What are the technology needs for each key priority?
  • What is the appropriate programmatic balance between construction, operations, exploitation, and R&D?

Drawing on the 2009 Programmatic Review, the PAAP has drafted a preliminary list of top science questions in Particle Astrophysics, below. We invite you to consider these questions and share your views.

Please respond by 17:00 BST on 14 Sept 2012.

Particle Astrophysics

Particle Astrophysics has two main elements. Within each area we propose primary scientific questions.

1) Multi-messenger Astronomy Astrophysical measurements using unconventional messengers, including neutrinos, very-high-energy gamma-rays and gravitational waves. The exploration of extreme and/or otherwise inaccessible environments and phenomena and the origin and role of accelerated particles in astrophysical systems (overlaps with high energy astrophysics).

1a) What is the nature of compact objects? What is the nature of black holes? What is the nature of neutron stars? What is the mass function of black holes and neutron stars? How did black holes at galactic nuclei form and evolve? Why are spin frequencies of neutron stars in low-mass X-ray binaries bounded? Are there stable states of matter at densities beyond neutron degeneracy?

1b) What is the physics behind supernovae and gamma-ray bursts? What is the physical mechanism for core-collapse supernovae and how asymmetric is the gravitational collapse that ensues? What happens when compact objects merge?

1c) What are the origins of ultra-relativistic cosmic particles, and how are they accelerated? Where are particles accelerated up to 1020 eV? What are the dominant sources of relativistic particles in star-forming regions/galaxies? What processes accelerate particles in supernova explosions, pulsar winds and AGN jets?

1d) What role do ultra-relativistic particles play in astrophysical environments? What is the role of these particles in the evolution of cosmic magnetic fields?; in the interstellar medium of galaxies?; in star-formation feedback and galaxy evolution?; in the interaction between active galactic nuclei and their host galaxies and galaxy clusters?

2) Fundamental Physics with Cosmic Messengers Tests of fundamental physics under extreme conditions and/or at energies beyond the reach of terrestrial experiments, including tests of Special and General Relativity and the Standard Model of Particle Physics, and the search for the nature of Dark Matter (overlaps with non-accelerator particle physics).

2a) What is the nature of Dark Matter? What is the mass and cross-section of the Dark Matter particles? What is the distribution of the dark matter in our galaxy and beyond?

2b) What is the nature of Dark Energy? What is the equation of state of dark energy? How does it vary with redshift?

2c) Does relativity break down under extreme conditions? Are the properties of gravitational waves and extreme gravitational environments as predicted by General Relativity? Is the propagation speed of light constant at ultra-high energies?

2d) What are the properties of neutrino interactions at very-high and ultra-high energies?

2e) Are there particles present in the universe which have not yet been detected either directly or indirectly? Do axion-like particles or topological defects such as magnetic monopoles or cosmic strings exist?

Now that you have considered these questions, please tell us what you think by filling out our survey below.

If you have any questions about the consultation or issues with the survey please contact Jenny Hiscock.

If you would like to take part in the survey, please visit the SurveyMonkey website.

expand Programmatic Review update January 2013

Over the summer, the Advisory Panels for Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Physics and for Physical and Life Sciences have consulted with their respective communities and prepared reports to the programmatic review subgroups.

STFC would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in this exercise and the panels for their hard work on these reports. Draft reports from the Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Physics Advisory Panels are available. The other panel reports will be available next month. All subgroups (including those for Impact, Large Facilities and Technology) have been collecting evidence via pro forma. STFC would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to complete these.

All subgroups have now met once and are in the review phase, considering the inputs from their respective sources and preparing their recommendations for Science Board.

To ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the peer review process, the recommendations of the subgroups will not be made public during this time. We ask everyone to respect the need for this, while the scientists on the sub groups and Science Board carry out their work.

Science Board will make its recommendations to STFC’s Council. Once Council respond, we will make available the Programmatic Review reports from Science Board and its Sub Groups, which will include recommendations on future opportunities and a prioritisation for projects and science areas. This will be used in deciding whether planning provision should be made within the programme for a given area or project.

The Programmatic Review is thus designed to inform planning decisions and to help optimise excellent science and impact in any financial scenario (positive, negative or neutral). The level and timing of funding for any project or area may be affected by the overall funding available. In the event of greater or smaller financial resources being available, decisions will need to take into account excellence, balance, costs, and spend profile in a way that goes beyond considering just raw ratings.

Flow diagrams detailing the meeting sequence and the timeframe of the programmatic review are available.

expand The Programmatic Review is nearing completion

Over the last few months the Programmatic Review sub-groups for the four areas (namely Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Physics; Large Facilities; Technology; and Impact) have finalised their recommendations and presented their reports to Science Board.

The members of these sub-groups have put in a tremendous amount of work to ensure that the advice that Science Board and STFC receives on the strategic priorities for the future of STFC science and facilities is the highest quality. STFC would like to thank all of the sub-group members for their work.

Science Board has met twice in May and June to review the input from the sub-groups and agree its recommendations to Council. Science Board is currently finalising its report to Council which will be presented on 16th July 2013. The report is a contextualised report setting out long term priorities.

We plan to publish the final Programmatic Review report once the STFC budget allocations arising from the Spending Review are known; we will then be able to understand how to apply these recommendations to the programme.

expand Report on progress of the Programmatic Review 2012-13

STFC Chief Executive John Womersley has provided an update on the Programmatic Review, you can read the statement here.

Links

Previous Reviews

expand 2009 Prioritisation

STFC's science prioritisation exercise has concluded and Council met on 15 December 2009 to consider the recommendations. The outcome, covering STFC’s entire science research and technology programme for 2010-11 and beyond, was announced on 16 December and posted on our web site.

PDF icon |News from PPAN (PDF - 85Kb - opens in a new window)
PDF icon |News from PALS (PDF - 37Kb - opens in a new window)
PDF icon |News from Science Board (PDF - 88Kb - opens in a new window)

Our Vision is 'to maximise the impact of our knowledge, skills, facilities and resources for the benefit of the United Kingdom and its people' and in delivering this we have committed to continue to support both curiosity-driven and application-led research.

But we accept that our operating environment has changed dramatically as a result of the global financial crisis, including the fall in the value of the pound. The medium and longer term forecasts of the effect of the financial crisis upon public expenditure suggest ongoing tough times for many years to come. STFC is therefore conducting a major science prioritisation exercise. We are doing so for two reasons:

  • to prepare for the inevitably tougher budget outcomes expected as a result of the financial crisis
  • to ensure our programme delivers maximum scientific, social, economic and international benefit to the UK

Since establishment in April 2007, STFC’s operating environment has changed dramatically as a result of the global financial crisis, including the fall in the value of the pound. The medium and longer term forecasts of the effect of the financial crisis upon public expenditure suggest ongoing tough times for many years to come.

This page provides links to the various components of our science prioritisation exercise, as well as a range of supporting material we have provided to the research community. Questions about the specific reviews or panel discussions should be directed to the review or panel chair. We welcome more general questions through our feedback email account.

We are aware that there has been some discussion of our science prioritisation exercise by our partners and stakeholders, such as the Institute of Physics and the Royal Astronomical Society. Links to these and to other partner and stakeholder websites can be found in the 'Who we work with' section of this website.

Frequently asked questions

PDF icon |FAQs (PDF - 61Kb - opens in a new window)

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000