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Scenario planning

Future of global research

What will research look
like in twenty years?

Our future of global research initiative uses scenario planning as an innovative and creative way to explore a rapidly changing industry and environment.

Download our report

We engaged with leading external figures in research, business and education to gain valuable external perspective, using these insights to identify critical trends and themes that may shape the future of global research.

We have developed four plausible but challenging future scenarios that have helped us view the landscape we operate in through different lenses.

Our scenarios are not an attempt to predict the future, but have been used to stretch our thinking and explore different ways in which the future may unfold.

We hope our scenarios will provoke conversation across our community, and be used by other organisations to help shape global research in a way that we all can benefit from in the future.

Contact us here: or discover more about the people responsible for this innovative project here

Why scenario plan?

Read our article to find out more about the thinking behind our scenarios and the approach that we have taken: The future of global research - a case study on the use of scenario planning in the publishing industry (Learned Publishing. doi:10.1002/leap.1152) .

  • Scenario A Techtopia

  • Scenario B Sustainable Health: 2037

  • Scenario C Post-West Power Shift

  • Scenario D Neighbourhood Science

Why global research?

We framed our project around “global research” as this has enabled us to explore wider trends across the research ecosystem, together with the impact they may have upon our industry, our customers and organisation. Every strategic scenario planning initiative is tailored to the specific needs of the organisation, and must resonate with the managers and decision makers that will be using them. Developments in medical research and health have, therefore, been at the forefront of our discussions and feature prominently in our imagined futures.

Further reading

We are grateful to the Royal Society of Chemistry for their advice on the scenario planning process. Read about RSC’s approach to scenario planning, and their Future of the Chemical Sciences initiative.

Read the latest BMJ Opinion piece here: Putting future signals into context through the art of scenario planning.

Chermack, Thomas (2011) Scenario Planning in Organisations: How to Create, Use and Assess Scenarios. Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Ramirez, Rafael, Churchhouse, Steve, Palermo, Alejandra, and Hoffmann, Jonas (2017) Using Scenario Planning to Reshape Strategy. MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer issue. 

Dally, Joanna and Downey, Frances (2017, 7 August) Jisc Futures: what will research look like in 2035? Times Higher Education.

Downey, Frances (2016, 13 December) The Future of Research Culture in the UK. Web log,