The ‘Areas of Research Interests’ (ARIs) are documents setting out the key research questions for government departments. They include information on departmental research systems, research and data publication policies and research and development strategies.


In response to the 2015 Nurse review of the UK Research Councils, the Government accepted the recommendation for a more strategic approach in relation to their departmental research and evidence needs. This included developing a more sophisticated dialogue with academia, and providing a document that sets out the most important research questions confronting each department.

The main benefit of the ARIs will be:

  • align scientific and research evidence from academia with policy development and decision-making
  • access a wide range of suppliers
  • engage with researchers
  • access stronger policy evidence bases at better value for money
  • share research commissions


Published Areas of Research Interest

Cabinet Office

  1. Public services
  2. Civil Service
  3. Digital innovation
  4. Electoral registration and electoral systems
  5. UK governance and devolution
  6. Measuring and responding to security threats faced by the UK
  7. Adapting to a changing security environment
  8. The role of multilateral institutions in maintaining the security of the UK
  9. Knowledge and information management

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

  1. Growth, affordability and distributional impacts
  2. Understanding people, institutions and markets
  3. Small & Medium Enterprises
  4. Place (local economic policies)
  5. Effective product safety regulation
  6. Smart, big data and computing
  7. Science technologies and innovation
  8. Understanding climate change
  9. Reliable, low-cost and clean energy
  10. Policy evaluation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  1. Natural environment
  2. Rural communities
  3. Floods
  4. Food & farming
  5. Environmental quality
  6. Marine and fisheries
  7. Water
  8. Animal health and welfare and plant health

Department of Health

  1. Antimicrobial resistance
  2. Drugs, diagnostics and medical equipment for elderly patients
  3. Lifestyle diseases, diabetes and obesity
  4. Mental health, dementia
  5. Minimising medical errors
  6. Personalised and stratified medicine
  7. Vaccines and drugs for the world’s infectious diseases

Department for International Trade

  1. Negotiations and trade agreements
  2. Non-tariff barriers to trade
  3. Market access and disputes
  4. Trade remedies
  5. Data, statistics and measurement
  6. Evaluating performance and impact
  7. Exports and export finance
  8. Investment and trade promotion
  9. Attitudes and perceptions of trade

Department for Transport

  1. Generating Evidence and Managing Research
  2. Boosting Economic Growth and Opportunity
  3. Building a One Nation Britain
  4. Improving Journeys
  5. Safe, Secure and Sustainable Transport
  6. Cross-cutting Evidence-gathering
  7. Collaboration and Communication

Department for Work and Pensions

  1. Support economic growth and improved productivity by ensuring work always pays and people are supported to find and progress in work
  2. Help reduce the disadvantages faced by disabled people and people with health conditions through the welfare system and labour market
  3. Increase saving for, and financial security in, later life
  4. Maximise the number of children benefiting from an effective child maintenance arrangement, encouraging family based arrangements where appropriate and reduce parental conflict in families
  5. Transform the way we deliver our services to improve quality and reduce costs

Food Standards Agency

  1. Regulating our Future (ROF)
    • Insights to help us understand the food system
    • New technologies
    • Sharing data
    • To understand behaviors of business, regulators, and people
    • What helps people and organisations make informed decisions
    • Effective approaches for influencing behaviour
  2. Food that is safe and what it says it is
    • Campylobacter
    • Food allergy and intolerance
    • Antimicrobial resistance in the food chain
    • Food-borne viruses
    • Food chemicals
    • Food crime

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

  1. Specialist knowledge of foreign countries and geographic regions
    • The future of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union
    • The impact of Brexit on the Overseas Territories
  2. Drivers and consequences of instability
    • Analysis of future potential for political instability and/or armed conflict in the former Soviet space.
  3. Conditions required for sustainable economic growth
    • Detailed analysis of successful transitions from struggling to prosperous economies
  4. Role of multilateral institutions
  5. Global challenges
    • The nature, value and changes in global economic architecture and the interconnections in the global economy. 
    • The dynamics and changing nature of globalisation and inequality. 
    • The future of work and trends in the global economy. 
    • Global or national economic risks or threats. 
  6. Emerging trends and forecasting

Health and Safety Executive

  1. The right evidence for the future
  2. The impact of demographic change on the health and safety of the future workforce
  3. The right intervention strategy for the British industrial asset base
  4. Taking responsibility for health at work
  5. Lessons learned from investigations
  6. Regulatory frameworks which are fit for the future

Ministry of Defence

  1. Understanding our changing physical and social operating environments and the effect of new technologies, through horizon scanning, a greater comprehension of social sciences and enhanced sensing capabilities
  2. Harnessing advances in information, big data and autonomy
  3. Enhancing military capabilities through technology, including power management, exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum and advanced materials
  4. Reducing the long term costs of military capability, including platforms, space based capabilities and training
  5. Maximising the potential of our people; and having the right technical skills for the future


If you wish to provide feedback or respond to a departments ARI please use the contact details provided in each departments ARI document.

To review open calls for evidence from Parliament please visit

To support the development of POSTnotes please visit

For more information on engaging with Parliament visit: ‘Research impact at the UK Parliament’

If you would like any support looking for calls, preparing research proposals, please contact [email protected]

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