Research matters: Behind every breakthrough lies first-class infrastructure

World-class research needs facilities that evolve and keep pace with its advances

Excellent researchers need excellent facilities if they are to push forward the frontiers of knowledge. In November 2011, researchers at CERN discovered hints of the biggest breakthrough in the history of particle physics, the Higgs boson particle. Finding proof that the Higgs boson exists would illuminate why particles have certain mass and help answer fundamental questions about the creation of the universe. Investment in this remarkable facility has produced five Nobel Prizes and generated countless discoveries, not least the invention of the World Wide Web, on which all of us now rely. It is now the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and UK researchers are among those from more than 20 countries who have the opportunity to work there.

Research Councils UK gives researchers access to a full range of world-class facilities, both in the UK and abroad, because we believe this is vital if we are to remain research leaders. These facilities range from telescopes for astronomers, to ships, aeroplanes and satellites for environmental scientists, to high-performance computers for data analysis and laboratories for experimental science. Just now The Francis Crick Institute, founded by the Medical Research Council and the world's leading medical charities, is being built on a brownfield site between the British Library and St Pancras station in London. It will bring together scientists from all disciplines to help turn laboratory discoveries into viable medical care as quickly as possible.

As research continues to break new boundaries, so the facilities that support it must be continually improved and supported. Recent new investments in science facilities and infrastructure reflect this and recognise that investment in the UK research base is essential to stimulating economic growth and societal well-being.

Today, the infrastructure for research is evolving as rapidly as the research itself. Alongside traditional large-scale facilities and laboratories, there are innovative developments in information and communications technology and data storage and analysis. These include the preservation and transmission of historical documents in the humanities. Previously unseen, handwritten manuscripts of Jane Austen, for example, were recently made available online thanks to the University of Oxford, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and working with technology developed by the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College London. And in Birmingham an AHRC-supported project integrates the city's treasury of historical materials through its new, state-of-the-art library.

Computer technology is making resources available to anyone from academic researchers to members of the public, who are increasingly engaged with the nuts and bolts of research activity. An example is Galaxy Zoo, a worldwide project started in Oxford to enlist amateur astronomers in classifying galaxies online. It is a classic example of so-called "citizen science".

Access to the outputs of research undertaken today will be crucial to the researchers of tomorrow. Understanding Society is the world's largest study of households and is giving an unprecedented insight into how people and families respond to local, national and international change.

The study follows individuals over time, regularly collecting data about each participant to provide an enduring profile of British society in the 21st century. The Economic and Social Research Council supports these studies, which can yield crucial evidence for health and social policy as well as having applications for business and industry.

As UK researchers continue to make breakthroughs, the infrastructure that supports their work needs to evolve and keep pace with them.

More information about Research Councils UK is available at www.rcuk.ac.uk

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN IT Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: IT EBD Teacher job in Runco...

SEN Maths Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Maths EBD Teacher job in Run...

SEN Maths Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Maths EBD Teacher job in Run...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teachers required, vario...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game