ARCHIVE: Quality assurance
Defra is a major funder of science, spending around £300 million annually on programmes that underpin and evaluate the Department's policies. The work is carried out on behalf of the Department by its laboratory agencies, Research Council Institutes, universities and the private sector. Assuring that this science is of a high and appropriate quality is a priority for the Chief Scientific Adviser.
Defra has established a unit to assist in assuring that Defra policy is informed by high quality science. The Science Quality and Priorities Team (SQP), which is distinct from existing science units within Defra and reports to the Chief Scientific Adviser, is charged with carrying out this work
Quality Assessment (Peer Review)
Peer review of completed Defra funded research is used to provide an independent assessment of the quality of the science commissioned by the Department.
To achieve this we need the advice of a large number of scientists with expertise within Defra's research portfolio. For further information on Defra research, please visit our Science and Research Projects page
To recognise the valuable role that peer reviewers will play, Defra will pay an honorarium of £130 per report reviewed. Click here for further details of how the peer review of Defra funded research will be carried out.
If you are interested in peer reviewing Defra-funded science, please see these details.
Defra SQP extends a big thank you to everyone who has helped us by reviewing and co-ordinating the reviews of reports and programmes. We greatly appreciate the time and effort you have spent helping us assure the quality of the Department's science.
Defra together with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council, (NERC) and the UK devolved administrations has launched a new code of practice to assure the quality of research processes used in research that they fund. The code, which includes consistent standards for research processes such as labelling and handling samples, aims to reduce the risk of policies being based on incorrect findings and to help improve public confidence in the results of publicly funded research.
The Joint Code of Practice for Research PDF applies to all research funded by Defra, the FSA and the UK Devolved Administrations and to research funded by the BBSRC and NERC at their own institutes. From 1 June 2004 , all contractors applying for research funding must indicate their compliance with the Code when submitting their research application form.
Between December 2003 and May 2004, Defra commissioned the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to carry out a series of 'Baseline Assessments' at a selection of our research contractors. The aim of this exercise was to gauge the levels of preparation for the introduction of the Code, identify any areas of the Code posing particular difficulty to contractors and to enable us to offer feedback and support. UKAS identified a number of areas for improvement across the assessed organisations and provided guidance on possible ways of improving QA measures to meet the Code's requirements. This guidance has been summarised and is available here PDF.
Joint Code of Practice for Research audit programme 2006/2007
To monitor compliance with the Code, Defra and FSA have jointly appointed the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) through open competition to audit a number of projects. A notice has been issued to explain this (available here PDF). In addition, UKAS has summarised the approach that they will adopt in conducting the audits in a short statement (available here PDF).
Agency Science Audits
Defra conducts scientific audits of its Laboratory Agencies every five years to ensure, through independent assessment, that the science carried out by the Laboratories is of high and appropriate quality and is delivering to Defra’s requirements.
The Laboratory Agencies are:
- Cefas - The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
- CSL - The Central Science Laboratory
- VLA - The Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
For further information, or enquiries about Defra's Quality Assurance procedures for Science, please email email@example.com
or write to
17 Smith Square
last modified: 13 June 2007
Page published: 26 April 2006