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Strategy For Oral Health Research In Scotland



1. Background and Introduction

In 2008, prior to the release of the outcome of RAE 2008, the Scottish Government, through the offices of the Chief Scientist and the Chief Dental Officer, commissioned a review of oral health research in Scotland. The timing coincided with the withdrawal, by the CSO, of core funding for the Dental Health Services Research Unit. The review was undertaken by Professors Paul Speight (University of Sheffield) and Bill Shaw (University of Manchester).

Following receipt of the report of the external Scottish Research Review, the Chief Dental Officer convened a preliminary meeting in June 2009 of Dental Deans / Heads of Scottish Dental Schools / Institutes, together with the Directors of Research for Dundee and Glasgow Dental Schools, to discuss the implementation of its recommendations. One outcome of the meeting was to develop a strategy for oral health research in Scotland which would be informed by the observations in the report, and would have three broad objectives:

  • To ensure that research that was undertaken would support the needs of the Scottish population.
  • To focus and build on areas of research in which Scottish scientists are already at the forefront of UK and international oral health research efforts.
  • To enhance the reputation of dental research in Scotland by optimising performance in national peer reviewed research appraisal.

These objectives are mutually supportive and an appropriate strategy should seek to deliver them simultaneously.

An outline strategy document was prepared by Professors Jeremy Bagg (University of Glasgow) and Peter Mossey (University of Dundee), as a framework for further discussion by key stakeholders. Following discussions by the CDO Group in December 2009, at which the broad principles were accepted, it was agreed that the next stage was to develop a focused oral health research strategy and an implementation plan taking into account the issues raised in those discussions and the feedback from an external research review ( ERR) of Dentistry at the University of Dundee. The outcome is this definitive strategy document that identifies clear mechanisms through which the necessary collaborations, both national and international, can be facilitated and managed. The strategy is consistent with the Chief Scientist Office health research strategy (Investing in Research, Improving Health, Scottish Government, 2009) in its emphasis on international excellence, population benefit and translation. It is proposed that implementation of the strategy will be overseen by a national Steering Group (see Section 5).