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Research

Strategy and profile

The following page contains an excerpt from the University's Strategy 2010-2020, relating to our aims and objectives for research. The full Strategy can also be viewed.

Durham University Strategy 2010-2020: Research

We will be recognised internationally for creative thought and transformative research of the highest calibre across a broad subject base of sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

Our research and scholarship will benefit from and help to shape national and international agendas. We will foster new subject-specific, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary ideas. Our research will generate outcomes which enhance social and human well-being, or have the potential to do so through shaping academic disciplines. We aim to be a place where the most motivated postgraduate students and leading researchers choose to work and visit.

Aim 1: To demonstrate international research excellence across our entire academic base and take a leading part in developing the academic agenda in each of our disciplines.

Objective (i)

To ensure that every member of academic staff (except those designated teaching-only) is publishing research which is internationally excellent or leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour (equivalent to 3* and 4* in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise). We will emphasise ambition of research questions and quality and impact of output.

Objective (ii)

To recruit academic staff at the forefront of their discipline, from around the world, who enhance the research profile of their discipline and are producing internationally-leading outputs (lecturers must be judged to have the potential to achieve this within three years). We will significantly increase the numbers of independently-funded early career Fellows - the eminent researchers of the future.

Objective (iii)

To deliver research in every discipline that addresses questions and issues with the potential to make significant impact on knowledge, people or the economy, or to enhance or change society for the better.

Objective (iv)

To develop a research strategy for each department which focuses research in areas in which we can excel and have the greatest future impact. Every department will be recognised as being amongst the top 10% in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework, and at least three in each Faculty will be in the top 3. Each discipline should have, or expect to develop, at least one area of activity in which it demonstrates genuine international research leadership (i.e. be recognised as one of the top handful of places in the world for that area of research). Institutes/centres must be judged as international leaders.

Objective (v)

To develop new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research programmes involving teams of academic staff. Our research will remain firmly grounded in strong discipline-specific departments/schools which link research and teaching. However, the Durham model for institutes and centres, with staff based in departments working together to develop new research areas, will be used to create new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams, and to stimulate new ideas. The IAS will play a key role in generating new ideas and bringing together leading academics both from within Durham and from around the world.

Aim 2: To increase significantly the number and proportion of both postgraduate Masters and PhD students, and postdoctoral researchers, providing each with the best possible quality of experience.

Objective (i)

To develop a comprehensive Doctoral Training Centre structure across our Graduate School to be innovative in postgraduate (Masters and PhD) recruitment, support, education and development.

Objective (ii)

To develop the Graduate School to embed opportunities for continuing professional development for postdoctoral researchers equivalent to those for postgraduate research students.

Objective (iii)

To ensure facilities, financial support, training and mentorship for all our postgraduate students are amongst the best in the UK.

Aim 3: To shape and respond to international, national and local research agendas.

Objective (i)

To create and lead future research programmes that break new ground. These may be discipline-specific through our departments/schools or multidisciplinary through research institutes and centres.

Objective (ii)

To increase significantly our influence on high-level policy through representation on key decision-making and grant-awarding bodies.

Objective (iii)

To develop creative research partnerships with influential national and international businesses, research councils, spin-out companies, non-governmental organisations and public sector bodies with mutually beneficial research agendas.

Aim 4: To raise Durham University's research profile nationally and internationally by effectively disseminating our research successes and outcomes.

Objective (i)

To promote individual research success internally and externally.

Objective (ii)

To communicate research outcomes through the appropriate external media and a leading website.

Aim 5: To establish a culture of prioritising support for research by all communities across the University, enhancing external research funding and embedding policies which protect research time.

Objective (i)

To increase and diversify sources of research income, prioritising substantial, multidisciplinary grants which support larger teams.

Objective (ii)

To ensure that the policies and practice of all our professional services and administration fully support research needs and maximise academic staff time for research.

Objective (iii)

To ensure that our libraries, collections and research equipment are appropriately prioritised to support our research ambitions.

Objective (iv)

To ensure that colleges play an increasing role in the support of research activities, in the development of the Graduate School and in linking research and education.