December 20, 2018, by Susan Lim

Announcing UNM’s research strategy and internal support infrastructure

In this final blog post for 2018, Professor Deborah Hall, Vice-Provost (Research and Knowledge Exchange) reflects on her first 6 months in post and announces major initiatives for the New Year.

The University of Nottingham promotes research that transforms lives, shapes the future and improves societies across the world. Its tri-campus mission is to deliver world-leading research to solve today’s global challenges. Many UNM academic staff have already been working towards this tri-campus mission, harmonised to the context of Malaysia, but UNM perhaps hasn’t had a clear research strategy up until now, and the research ecosystem has not been explicitly organised to support the research strategy.

To address these gaps, I’m leading a major initiative which today announces my vision and goals for UNM research, as well as my broad plans to reorganise our centralised support infrastructure in order to better achieve success. Many of these recommendations have emerged from the discussions and recommendations arising from my recent review of the Research Support Office, the Business Engagement and Innovation Service (BEIS), Incubation Centre and MyResearch Sdn Bhd.

The vision seeks to enhance the health and wealth of Malaysia and SE Asia through research collaboration. In essence, this means that we conduct important fundamental research; translate breakthrough discoveries into practical products and procedures for the industry, not-for-profit, healthcare services, government agencies, and other users of research evidence; and encourage broader investment in and economic growth from our research.

I emphasise research collaboration because this is a proven way to achieve quality, funding, impact and reputation. Goals for collaboration and partnerships can take three forms:

  1. Across UNM, involving inter-disciplinary research teams,
  2. Across Higher Education Institutions, such as the University of Nottingham campuses in the UK and China, and other universities in Malaysia and SE Asia,
  3. With external organisations, such as industry and NGOs.

The pledge describes expectations about ways of working; both for academic staff and support staff to enhance the research ecosystem. These are important ingredients for a vibrant research environment.

To support research collaboration across the full research lifespan (from idea to impact and exploitation), a single team is being established from what was previously separate teams, and the new name for the team is the Research and Knowledge Exchange hub. The team will be located in the space currently occupied by BEIS. Of course, we have only just started working through the implications of this for individual job roles, and this reorganisation will take a while to complete. So until further notice, we are currently operating a ‘business-as-usual’ service.

You should, however, notice several changes almost immediately.

First, the Research and Knowledge Exchange hub is creating a Research and Knowledge Exchange handbook on Sharepoint. There is something in it for all academic staff and postgraduate students no matter how long you have worked or studied at UNM because it contains information on all aspects of research: a useful ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the main things that you need to know to be a successful academic researcher.

Second, I will be leading a review of our existing Research Centres and Groups to ensure that they are aligned with the research strategy and have clear expectations and deliverables. I anticipate that one of the functions of the new Research and Knowledge Exchange hub will be to tailor purposeful centralised support for Research Centres. Stage 1 is a call for proposals for Research Centres. This will be announced soon, with an anticipated closing date in early February.

These six months have been extremely busy addressing internal matters, but at the same time highly rewarding. I look forward to 2019 when the new hub has settled down and I can turn my attention towards promoting our research excellence to external stakeholders.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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