We held another Faculty Executive Board away-day on Wednesday, to discuss our research aspirations. We discussed the research vision for the faculty and each of the constituent schools, with a particular emphasis on REF 2020. As everyone will know, we are in the middle of our ‘IQA3’ internal quality exercise. As an open blog, this is not the place to discuss the outcome of this exercise (which in any case is not complete), but while we must focus on our REF2014 submission, it is also very important to begin preparation for the next exercise – from my experience with other institutions there is a tendency to take one’s foot off the pedal once the submission is complete. We must resist the temptation to do this.
One outcome of the away-day was a view on where we hope each school will aim to position itself in 2020. This is summarised in the table below. This table shows the GPA score for each unit at RAE2008, the percentage 4* research activity for that unit, the position (in terms of raw GPA), the number of submissions to that unit, the top-scoring GPA in that unit, and the ambition for 2020. You can see that we are aiming very high.
Of course, declaring one’s ambition is the easy part – working out how to get there is a very different matter. We shared some thoughts about this – again, these are not for an open blog, but your school management team will discuss these with you in due course.
We also discussed the research landscape at Faculty level, focussing on inter-disciplinary research activity between schools, and indeed between faculties. The purpose was to identify cross-cutting themes or ‘nodes’, where a significant critical mass currently exists or is growing. The result (which is a little complex!) is shown in the diagram below. Here, the red text shows areas which we believe already have critical mass, and the orange text shows areas that are emerging. The solid arrows indicate the input from schools and their research groups, whereas the dotted arrows indicate contributions that are either being developed or ought to exist. Apart from providing a convenient map of research interactions across the Faculty (bearing in mind that we can’t possibly capture them all – only the major ones), this diagram helps us figure out where the next strategic appointments need to be made. It is from these inter-disciplinary research areas that we are likely to see growth in our research activity. Once again, we have asked Heads of School to discuss this more fully within parent schools.
Themes marked ‘*’ are those that will be involved in the first phase of the Science Central development.