Annex 9 - Criteria for the establishment and naming of research groups

Criteria for the establishment and naming of research groups, centres, and institutes

  1. The University will establish three levels of research grouping for the purposes of external promotion and organisation.   These will be Research Group, Research Centre or Institute, and Research School.   Other usage is acceptable for internal Departmental management and organisation, but for external consumption these three categories, defined as below, are appropriate.  It is obviously desirable that, while Departments will organise and promote their research in various ways, this should accord as closely as possible with the University’s public and external profile.
  2. All such groupings will have a web presence on both Departmental and University web sites. Where they are cross-departmental activities a link will appear on all relevant department sites.  All, other than Research Groups, require formal confirmation by Senate. All, other than Research Groups, will have a named Director, and in the case of Schools the Director will be appointed following due process of advertising (normally but not necessarily internal) and interview.  This may also apply where appropriate to Centres and Institutes.
  3. The website for all such groupings must be maintained and updated by the Director, with advice from the Marketing and Communications office, and will be listed and linked on the main university Research web page.
  4. All properly constituted and ratified Centres and Institutes must provide a short report on activities and progress every two years to the PVC-R.  The Director will be prompted for this report by the Secretary to RPMG.   Research Schools have their own, already agreed, reporting procedures.
  5. The three levels of activity are defined as follows:
    • 5.1 Research Group. 
      Relatively informal activity not requiring formal Senate approval but to be approved and discussed in a DSM (or more if cross-departmental).  Any number of researchers with a common interest in a subject may form themselves into a Group. This may be a loose, informal arrangement. It should nonetheless indicate some continuing area of research activity whether focused on seminars, single research projects, doctoral groupings, or interdisciplinary initiatives.  It is envisaged that such groups gain by being so designated, if only as a means for badging and promoting activities, and may in time become a more substantial or established entity.
    • 5.2 Research Centre or Institute.
      A more substantial research entity with a continuing set of activities, a regular flow of external research funding, and the means to support some level of administrative or academic infrastructure, however small.  The term Institute may be more appropriate for a larger and significantly more substantial research activity than a Centre, with a secure and continuing basis of external funding, almost certainly based on work in more than one Department.  An Institute will have research or administrative infrastructure.   N.B. It is recognised there is some overlap in the nature and description of Centres and Institutes, and indeed some historical anomalies (e.g. CRSP and WEDC are both Centres in name but more akin to Institutes in scale and structure.  It would plainly be counter-productive to alter their title at this stage).
    • 5.3 Research School.
      Interdisciplinary Research Schools are governed by procedures agreed in the paper establishing them approved by Senate and Council in 2005. 
  6. Clearly implicit in these characterisations is a sense of graduation from Group to Centre to Institute.  This will rarely happen, but when it does will require Senate approval.  It is also important that Groups, as the least formal and durable of such activities, should nonetheless signal externally a genuine and persistent area of research excellence and expertise, and should be neither legacies of past interests nor just vanity letter-heads for individual research activity.

(Approved by Senate in July 2009)