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University of Otago Research Centres, Research Themes and Research Networks Policy

Category Research
Type Policy
Approved by Senate, 29 September 2021
Date Policy Took Effect 29 September 2021
Last approved revision
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Senior Research Analyst, Research and Enterprise

Purpose

The policy defines and describes the aims and characteristics of each of the different types of interdisciplinary research programmes supported by the University of Otago, including the processes and structures through which these programmes are approved, funded and reviewed.

This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Procedures for the Establishment of University of Otago Research Centres, Research Themes and Research Networks, which provide detail about application, assessment and establishment processes, and management and reporting requirements.

Organisational scope

This policy applies to University of Otago Research Centres, University of Otago Research Themes, University of Otago Research Networks and (in exceptional circumstances) University of Otago Research Institutes, in each case established under the authority of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) on the recommendation of the University of Otago Research Committee (“Research Committee”).

Definitions

University of Otago Research Centre
An entity as described in and having features as set out in clauses 2 and 3(a) of this policy.
University of Otago Research Theme
An entity as described in and having features as set out in clauses 2 and 3(b) of this policy.
University of Otago Research Network
An entity as described in and having features as set out in clauses 2 and 3(c) of this policy.
University of Otago Research Institute
An independent research flagship.
Research Entity
Any one of University of Otago Research Centres, University of Otago Research Themes and University of Otago Research Networks.
Research Entities
All University of Otago Research Centres, University of Otago Research Themes and University of Otago Research Networks.

Content

1. General

The University formally supports the development of interdisciplinary research through investment in recognised:

  • University of Otago Research Centres;
  • University of Otago Research Themes; and
  • University of Otago Research Networks.

This investment includes contribution from the budget of the Research Committee, together with expected contributions from Academic Divisions and external sources.

At scheduled intervals, the Research Committee facilitates competitive application rounds for the creation of new University of Otago Research Centres, University of Otago Research Themes and University of Otago Research Networks.

Applications are evaluated by the Research Committee and recommendations around selection are made to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) for approval.

Only those Research Entities established and approved through this process may carry the official “University of Otago” designation.

Where appropriate, a Research Entity may be awarded the title of and recognition as a University of Otago Research Centre, a University of Otago Research Theme or a University of Otago Research Network without Research Committee funding.

To progress the University’s commitment to honouring the Treaty of Waitangi, all Research Entities are expected to engage fully, wherever practicable, with the research goals of the University of Otago Māori Strategic Framework and MBIE’s Vision Mātauranga.

The primary goal of this policy is to enable Research Entities to optimise research excellence and, in some cases, achieve financial self-sufficiency.

2. Overview

Research Entity Description Funding Term
University of Otago Research Centre An integrated research platform or programme with an established national and/or international reputation for excellence.

Up to $50,000 per annum from the budget of the Research Committee.

Expected to secure additional funding from academic divisions and/or external sources.

Five years.
University of Otago Research Theme An interdisciplinary grouping of University scholars engaged in related research activities in areas of developing or potential research topics, that with recognition and support will lead to common goals and excellent interdisciplinary research.

Up to $25,000 per annum from the budget of the Research Committee.

May secure additional funding from academic divisions and/or external sources.

Four years.
University of Otago Research Network A broad collective of scholars, professionals and community members, led by the University of Otago, engaging in research around an area of collective interest involving fundamental issues or problems.

Up to $10,000 per annum from the budget of the Research Committee.

May secure additional funding from academic divisions and/or external sources.

Four years.

3. Characteristics of Research Entities

  1. University of Otago Research Centres
    1. A University of Otago Research Centre is a significant group of University scholars with an integrated research platform or programme that addresses a set of problems, hypotheses or approaches which have major theoretical, empirical, social, or applied significance.
    2. A University of Otago Research Centre normally collaborates across disciplines and traditional departmental and/or divisional boundaries. It is engaged with external groups, such as government, industry, iwi/Māori, community, and has national and/or international collaborations. Recognition as a University of Otago Research Centre signals the excellence and coherence of the research and leverages support for the research conducted by the group.
    3. A University of Otago Research Centre provides outstanding training opportunities for early career researchers and students and may support coordination of activities not readily undertaken within the University's department and divisional structure.
    4. While a University of Otago Research Centre may be awarded funding by the Research Committee, the title of and recognition as a University of Otago Research Centre is not dependent on such funding.
    5. The Vice Chancellor may in exceptional circumstances, and on the recommendation of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise), approve an University of Otago Research Centre to be designated as a University of Otago Research Institute. Approval will take into consideration the characteristics of the University of Otago Research Institute and the rationale for the designation.
  2. University of Otago Research Themes
    1. The purpose of a University of Otago Research Theme is to promote and facilitate communication and new types of research collaborations among its members, including academic staff, research staff and graduate research students. A University of Otago Research Theme signals an area where there are research strengths in the University that, with co-ordination, might sustain or incubate promising interdisciplinary research directions.
    2. A University of Otago Research Theme provides unique training opportunities for students and may support co-ordination of activities not readily undertaken within the University's department structure.
    3. A University of Otago Research Theme signals an area of demonstrated or developing research excellence. By giving particular recognition and support, the University is signalling that University of Otago Research Themes will:
      • develop a pathway to increase national and international leadership and recognition for excellence;
      • increase interdisciplinary and collaborative contributions to a research field;
      • have the potential to attract external research income.
  3. University of Otago Research Networks
    1. A University of Otago Research Network operates in an area where there are research strengths that with co-ordination might translate into further interdisciplinary research, shared expertise, and/or real-world impact.
    2. A University of Otago Research Network provides knowledge-sharing and training opportunities for all its members through activities that may not usually be readily undertaken within the University's traditional departmental structures.
    3. A University of Otago Research Network signals an area of research significance. By giving particular recognition and support to this, the University is signalling that a University of Otago Research Network has the potential to:
      • increase interdisciplinary and collaborative contributions to a research field
      • attract external research income
      • translate research findings into real-world impact through knowledge sharing with external stakeholders.

4. Funding periods and allocations

Proposals to establish University of Otago Research Entities are invited from time to time by the Research Committee. Funding is awarded at the discretion of the Research Committee.

  1. University of Otago Research Centres
    1. University of Otago Research Centres will be established for up to five years with up to $50,000 funding per annum. At the end of the period, University of Otago Research Centres may re-apply to be University of Otago Research Centres or continue their work independent of University of Otago Research Centre branding and funding.
  2. University of Otago Research Themes
    1. University of Otago Research Themes will be established for up to four years with up to $25,000 funding per annum. Recognition of the University of Otago Research Theme, and any funding, finishes at the end of that period.
    2. The interdisciplinary research groups incubated by the activity may re-apply as a University of Otago Research Theme, apply to become a University of Otago Research Centre, or continue their scholarly endeavours independent of University of Otago Research Theme branding and funding.
  3. University of Otago Research Networks
    1. University of Otago Research Networks will be established for up to four years with up to $10,000 funding per annum. Recognition of the University of Otago Research Network, and any funding, finishes at the end of that period.
    2. The interdisciplinary research groups incubated by the activity may re-apply as a University of Otago Research Network, apply to become a University of Otago Research Centre or, or continue their scholarly endeavours independent of University of Otago Research Network branding and funding.

5. Branding and Showcasing

The Research Entities will be showcased on the University website.

Website, marketing and promotional material must be aligned with the University of Otago Brand Policy to achieve consistency among each Research Entity. [Please refer to “Establishment Procedures” in the University of Otago Research Centres, Research Themes and Research Networks Procedures.]

All Research Entities will collectively participate in meetings, colloquia, fora and showcase events to discuss and promote University of Otago research, as determined by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, please contact:

Senior Research Analyst, Research and Enterprise
Email david.geraghty@otago.ac.nz