Review of the Japanese World Premier International Research Center Initiative





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Gauging the opinions and attitudes of global academics on the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We gained insights into how a national funding organisation could improve its network of research centres at the cutting edge of global discovery.

JSPS WPI | Research Consulting

Research Consulting and Springer Nature were commissioned by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to evaluate the World Premier International (WPI) Research Center Initiative. The WPI Research Center Initiative was established in 2007 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to create globally influential Japanese research centres, producing work with major scientific and societal impacts.

The review focused on a cohort of 66 international stakeholders who had previously interacted with or were otherwise aware of the WPI, to gauge their views and attitudes. We undertook semi-structured interviews with 55 academics, three editors and eight policymakers and funders, covering a wide range of countries and institutions. Our work aimed to understand the contributors’ viewpoints to enable the research centres to continue adapting to a rapidly changing research environment.

The findings of our stakeholder consultation informed a wider impact report combining a bibliometric analysis by Nature Research and Digital Science, which was published by JSPS. The report covers the scientific and societal impact of WPI Centers and their contribution to internationalising the Japanese research system.

Going forward, JSPS will build on this work to strengthen the impact and reach of their WPI Centers and to improve their research cultures. The conclusions of the report note that the key next steps for the WPI Initiative will be to review their marketing approach, to revise their funding horizon, to rebalance the share of international vs Japanese staff and to improve gender balance.