An academic conducting research in the Physics IsoLab facility

Research that transforms practice and thinking


Research and the creation of new knowledge is central to our role in generating positive change. Excellent research informs our teaching, enterprise activity and engagement and underpins the University's status and reputation. Our first and guiding priority is to undertake research of the very highest quality by international standards, as recognised by our peers, funders, stakeholders, users and adopters. In so doing, we will increase the quality and impact of our research and enterprise, and work with national and international partners to consolidate our position among the UK's leading research-intensive institutions and further develop our international standing.

The scale of global, economic and societal challenges emphasises the critical nature of interdisciplinary research in tackling the current issues facing humankind. Our track record of disciplinary strength combined with high-quality interdisciplinary research that bridges departmental and faculty boundaries has underpinned our research success. Our research culture is fiercely collaborative, but more human in scale than in many research-intensive universities. We have put in place mechanisms to guard against research silos and encourage cross-faculty working. Indeed, over 20% of our major research grant awards are interdisciplinary and all of our major doctoral training partnerships span departments.

We must leverage this strong interdisciplinary and collaborative culture to further develop our research excellence and intensity in line with our UK and international peers. We will seek to further strengthen our output quality to ensure our research has the highest possible impact and recognition globally. Third party funding is central to undertaking research that has a transformative impact on thinking and practice in our communities and wider society. Increasing the proportion of our total income derived from research to more than 25% would bring our income in line with our direct competitors and better reflect the high ranking for research quality achieved in both REF 2014 and REF 2021. In order to enhance our research intensity, compete with our peers and ensure the sustainability of our research base, we will need to scrutinise the volume, variety and value of our research income and capitalise on the government agenda for place-based research that addresses a regional focus. Increasing our income from enterprise activity will also need to play a significant part in growth and the proportion should rise from under 5% to 7.5%.

Across our research ecosystem, we will support our broad community of staff and work with our global partner campuses to rise to these challenges, to develop opportunities and the skills necessary to take advantage of them, undertake enterprise activity and maximise the impact of their work. Informed by developments in research analytics, this will include support for early career researchers as well as those who are more established. We will also develop opportunities for our technical staff, postgraduate research students and post-doctoral researchers to develop the skills needed to succeed in interdisciplinary research and enterprise, not least through the further development of the 51福利 Doctoral Academy, our Research Centres and Research Institutes.

Priorities for Research

Support and increase our inter- and multi-disciplinary working

We will build on our existing research strengths, in support of our distinctive interdisciplinary approach through more effective use of our existing structures (including Research Institutes, University Research Centres, high-performing departments and teams; our enterprise capability; and our regional, national and international partnerships) and by prioritising investment and support for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research in areas of recognised strength and opportunity.

Increase the volume and quality of our research income

To develop our grant capture in line with our competitors we will promote a research and enterprise culture that encourages our academic staff to seek and secure funding for their research both as individuals and also in collaboration with others inside and outside the institution. We value the contribution from both PIs and Co-Is in major bids addressing societal challenges.

Support the Royal Society’s 'Resumé for Researchers'

We will support sustained excellence in research using this framework to enable our academics to grow their research track records in a way that ensures they succeed and their research flourishes.

Increase the variety and value of our research

We will endeavour to close the gap between research income and research costs (FEC) through strategic use of institution-funded research. Further, we will seek to diversify our research and enterprise funding base, across research councils, industry, enterprise and international sources.

Supporting initiatives

In support of this Strategic Priority, we will:

  • Enhance our interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary support and structures in areas of opportunity such as health, data, security, sustainability, design and the environment.
  • Develop support to diversify and broaden the pool of research funders and significantly increase enterprise income, using our research impact and engagement activity to nurture relevant national and international partnerships, including opportunities that engage our international partner campuses.
  • Drive forward the quality and impact of our research by means of our public engagement activities and through the deployment of effective publication strategies, ensuring we support researchers to achieve the highest possible impact on society, culture, the environment and economy.
  • We will seek to enhance our postgraduate research student experience to support employability and to develop transferable and interdisciplinary skills alongside deep technical capabilities and subject expertise. We will sustain our commitment to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and further develop our Doctoral Academy as a key element of our enhancement of the postgraduate research student experience.

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