Research groups shall contribute to creating good, resilient research environments clustered around various thematic areas. They shall stimulate increased internal collaboration and academic activity, and render visible UIA’s research through thematic foci and targeted external communication. They shall also integrate master’s students and PhD candidates into the academic environments. In 2012, the University Board decided that the usual organisational form of the research at UIA should be in research groups. In the subsequent year, the criteria for research groups were adopted. Today, research groups have been established at all of the Faculties. At UIA in 2017, there are around 75 named and profiled research groups. The groups’ size, composition and access to resources varies from Faculty to Faculty. The research groups also have very distinct levels of activity and ambition.
Some of the more ambitious research groups have established themselves in the form of centres, whilst others wish to function as academic groups in which keeping abreast of the latest academic developments, as well as cooperation with respect to education, are central. Whilst bearing this diversity in mind, the discussion is now about the further development of the research groups. It is desirable to come up with a clearer definition of what research groups are, and how they distinguish themselves from academic groups and centres. The academic environments call for defined stages of development, a clarification of expectations tied to the various groups, and clarity regarding the administrative support that the research groups can and should receive from the institution.
Where do we want to be? – Vision for 2027
Strong research groups will be central if UIA is to achieve its aims within research, development, and artistic development work. The organisation shall facilitate for researchers achieving their potential through membership of, and with productive contributions to, research groups both from within and across disciplines, without this disturbing our formal organisation into departments and Faculties.
UIA has succeeded in developing a positive cycle for quality development, and access to resources (Figure 1). Through coordinated recruitment and building infrastructure, strategically leading research groups, and effective dissemination of research results in the most relevant publication channels, we have achieved a positive spiral of development.
With positive development within and for the research groups towards 2027, UIA has many more active research staff, publications of high academic quality and social relevance, and externally financed research activities. The research groups provide individuals with a stimulating academic environment in which good results are achieved and appreciated. Heads of Research are incentivised via opportunities provided for skills development and the access the research groups are given to good support functions and resources. Strong research groups will give UIA a wider international contact base and will be important in the work with recruitment, both nationally and internationally.
During the first part of the plan period, UIA has set clearer criteria for research groups. It is evident how research groups distinguish themselves from the groups that focus primarily on being academically up to date (focused on education) and research centres. Groups focused on education, research groups, and research centres are all necessary and important parts of the academic activity at UIA, and are to work together.
Separate stages of development can be imagined within the research groups in which a group plan for development is shaped according to the requisite level of ambition and production. Each group is to set goals for its development in consultation with academic and research management, with its own specific standpoint and field serving as point of departure. The groups will also decide by which indicators they should be assessed within a framework in which quality and relevance can be measured in different ways. In this way, the research groups gain ownership of their own development, and are assessed in accordance with that which gives them the best possible development potential. Support given to the research groups – economic and administrative – is differentiated in line with their various levels of ambition, and their objectives and results.
The research centres established by the University Board distinguish themselves clearly from research groups and centres established at Faculty level in terms of their assumptions and ambition levels. The Board’s established research centres shall function as a realisation of UIA’s priorities, with the objective to develop research areas in which UIA can become a national and international leader. The research environments out of which these centres are formed should have achieved strong research results, have good connections to organised research training, and a distinguished project portfolio at national and international levels before their nomination by the University Board as an institutional focus.
In 2027, UIA will have several research centres that have achieved status as national or internationally leading centres. In addition, UIA will have efficient research groups covering the entire range of development stages. The groups will find that the support on offer from the organisation is in keeping with their level of ambition.
What must be done to arrive at this stage? – Measures for the years to come
Clarification concerning expectations and support/incentives
The terms “group focused on education” (faggruppe), research group and research centre, which have been established by the University Board, are differentiated through an obvious set of criteria which are common for UIA.
Within the research group term, a development ladder is being developed in line with the groups’ ambitions and production levels.
The groups develop clear goals and choose their own indicators on which basis they are to be assessed.
Administrative and economic support is given in line with the group’s level of ambition.
All PhD candidates are affiliated with a research group.
The research groups endeavour to achieve a satisfactory gender balance, cf. the objectives of UIA’s gender equality plan.
The research group leader has a clear mandate and the possibility of further development.
An assessment as to whether the research centres should be placed on a separate organisational level, independent of Faculty groupings, shall be made.
Strategic management at all levels
Resources are prioritised clearly at all levels – centrally, at the Faculties, departments, and in the research groups.
UIA prioritises support to environments which can become international leaders, including through the research centres established by the Board.
A constructive culture for sharing results and success stories is to be developed.
Research administrative support and project development
Local research administrative support is to be given within the group’s field. The support is to be adjusted according to the research group’s level of ambition, objectives and goal attainment.
Administrative staff with support functions have high levels of expertise and contribute to the development of projects and applications.
The research groups’ members participate to an increasing extent on committees and panels of the Research Council of Norway and EU.