Phase 2 Preferred Options Paper

This Preferred Options Paper marks the second phase in the development of the Griffith University Research and Innovation Plan 2021–2025. It follows the initial phase of consultation in which you provided broad feedback about research at Griffith today and your vision for where it should be in 2025. Extensive feedback was received through written submissions, focus groups, the Academic Leaders’ Forum and through many one-on-one discussions, with representation from HDR candidates, ECRs and MCRs, Indigenous researchers, through to our most senior research leaders. As a newcomer to this University I was impressed by the candour and thoughtfulness coming through in the feedback.

Your advice is quite clear. Business as usual is not an option. While we should take care to avoid unnecessary change, we should also recognise that Griffith University is at a point in its evolution where it can act more confidently, take some risks and push boundaries. Feedback was so consistently supportive in nearly every respect that we can progress more rapidly to this Preferred Options Paper, which sets a fresh direction for Griffith to be recognised internationally as a university of impact, both in the traditional academic and ‘real world’ meanings of impact. We will combine our disciplinary excellence with interdisciplinary strengths where appropriate to achieve impactful outcomes – consistent with our vision, “to transform lives and add to human knowledge and understanding in a way that creates a future that benefits all.”

The Paper describes the themes emerging from the feedback, sets out broad directions, and key initiatives with the overall intent to redirect and align Griffith’s research efforts in a way consistent with the University’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025 – Creating a future for all. Many excellent proposals were received in the submissions and although not all of these are visibly reflected in the preferred options, many will inform development of the broad strategies proposed.

Your feedback is sought on the proposals outlined in this Preferred Options Paper. How translatable are these to the Griffith environment? What can be realistically achieved within the current financial constraints? Which initiatives do you think will best align with the University’s overall strategic objectives? Is this an improvement on what we are already doing, in some cases very well? Are there worthwhile proposals missing or others that you consider should be removed?

Submissions can be sent to: dvcr-comms@griffith.edu.au by Friday 7 August 2020.

Beyond this phase the intention is to finesse the key actions and to develop a draft Research and Innovation Plan 2021-2025 for further circulation to staff, research students, and external stakeholders to ensure that the Plan resonates within all communities we serve. A refined draft Plan will be presented to the University Council in October followed by a final Research and Innovation Plan 2021-2025 in December for formal approval.

Professor Mario Pinto

Deputy Vice Chancellor Research

Please send your submissions and questions to

dvcr-comms@griffith.edu.au

by Friday 7 August 2020.

Confidentiality arrangements

It is intended that submissions will be shared with a core group of research leaders including the DVC (Research), PVC (Research) and Deans Research of each academic group. Please state in your cover email or prominently on your submission if you would like your contribution to be treated in confidence – i.e. to be addressed only to the DVC (Research).

Previous Phase (May - June):

Phase 1 Initial Consultations


Preamble

Griffith University seeks to be known as one of Australia’s leading research universities, but as stated in my covering message, while researchers are respectful of our past this is balanced by a healthy expectation that Griffith can do much better in research.

In my preliminary conversations with colleagues there is a strong undercurrent of collegiality across disciplines at Griffith and a desire to build upon our strong Humanities, Art  and Social Sciences profile to connect with the rapidly growing science, engineering, medical and health disciplines and vice-versa. Many of you would like to see Griffith projecting itself stronger globally and redefining the Griffith research brand around impactful research that is built upon this exciting fusion of interdisciplinary research —a return to its roots.

Another recurring theme is around that of support for researchers from harnessing the energy of our HDR candidates, providing the environment for our early and mid-career researchers to thrive, and assembling the research infrastructure, platforms and policies for senior researchers to provide high-quality leadership.

During this initial phase of consultation, I ask you to think creatively and not to be bound by Griffith as it is today. What is your vision for research at Griffith in a future where conventional wisdom might be turned on its head? From how we deal with existential threats around health and climate change, to matters of global significance including democracy, governance and law, defence and security, our use of technology, energy and resources, through to the preservation of vital industries and community structures and core questions such as what it means to be human in the 21st century. Consider the possibilities for this institution to build an exceptional research profile and reputation following the immediate COVID-19 pandemic as the community mobilises to study the impacts and prospects for both social and economic recovery both in the immediate future and over the long-term.

While this initial consultation is quite open-ended, those that follow will be more focused and therefore please take the opportunity to express your views not only in relation to the consultation questions but also other points you might wish to make.

Research and Innovation Plan 2017-2020 – rating our success

In 2016 the University approved its Research and Innovation Plan 2017-2020 (PDF 3.2MB) which contained an over-riding vision for Griffith to fit the profile of a leading (top 300) research university by 2020.

That Plan set minimum expectations for Higher Degree by Research education, research publication quality and volume, research income and the performance standards expected from researchers.

It committed to continued support for research centres and institutes as the framework for focussing our research, while our commitment to Areas of Strategic Investment underpinned our aspirations for world-leading research outcomes.

Four years on, the University is ranked in the top 250 on two major rankings including the influential Times Higher Education World University Rankings and has achieved numerous top 50 subject rankings including tourism and hospitality, nursing, marine/ocean engineering, music, international relations, law and criminology.

ERA 2018 outcomes revealed that the University has dramatically improved its research quality profile with 41 fields of research rated at above or well-above world standard and 98% of our research contained in fields rated world standard or above.

Our citation impact stands at around 1.5 times the world average placing Griffith in a similar league on this quality measure to many well-established research-intensive universities.

Higher Degree by Research enrolments have risen considerably with Griffith now placed in the top 12 Australian universities for completions, research income, especially that funded by industry has shown strong growth (~44%) since 2017. These are impressive outcomes over a short time period, providing a substantial base for Griffith research to build on through to 2025 and beyond.

Consultation Questions

  1. Notwithstanding the outstanding results arising from the Research and Innovation Plan 2017-2020, could we have done more to extract greater return on the considerable investment made into research quality at Griffith?
  2. What could we have done differently? Where were the gaps?
  3. What worked well and what existing research strategies should be taken forward in the new Plan?

Developing a Research and Innovation Plan 2021-2025

The new Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Creating a future for all sets a new mission,

“to transform lives and add to human knowledge and understanding in a way that creates a future that benefits all.”

The Plan sets ambitious key outcomes for the research portfolio including: a top 200 global ranking by 2025; 10 disciplines ranked in the top 100, at least two in each academic group; increasing research income from a wider range of sources; support for early career researchers particularly post-doctoral fellows; and a more structured approach to research infrastructure and platforms in all major disciplines.

The Strategic Plan commits to the core principles of excellence, ethical behaviour and engagement, it reaffirms our intent to express our values in all that we do: respect for our First Peoples and commitment to environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and social justice.

The Strategic Plan also sets the general direction for Research and innovation Plan 2021-2025, including seven key actions in research:

  • Establish Griffith Beacons,
  • Engage in the strategic recruitment of internationally recognised researchers,
  • Invest increased resources and focus into supporting our researchers to commercialise their research,
  • Support researchers to be able, and qualified, to succeed in national and international competitive grants,
  • Integrate high-quality research capability into academic hiring for all balanced and research-focused positions,
  • Better recognise the contribution of doctoral candidates as part of Griffith’s research fabric,
  • Invest strategically in both researchers and research infrastructure in areas of excellence.

Consultation Questions

  1. How best can we harness our research strengths to raise Griffith to the next level and enhance its ability to compete globally?
  2. A paper on Griffith Research Beacons will be released shortly. For the remaining key actions, how would you see these being delivered? (i.e. through specific programs and mechanisms)
  3. Describe what success for Griffith research in 2025 will look like?

People, Platforms and Processes

It is proposed that the Research & Innovation Plan 2021-2025, including the seven key actions set out in the University Strategic Plan, will be assembled around people, platforms and processes.

The People aspect will be focused on research workforce capability with special attention to be given to HDR candidates, early and mid-career researchers. Development of our research leaders of the future is essential for Griffith to scale up and not be caught out due to lack of effective succession planning.

The Platforms focus is on physical & digital infrastructure, physical and virtual platforms and personnel infrastructure. The interpretation of platforms is broad and includes Research Centres and Institutes, research support services (provided mainly through GE, GGRS, OR, various parts of Corporate Services and the Library), and other forms of major research platforms in all disciplines.

Issues around Processes were discussed at length in the Strategic Planning that took place in 2019 and this was mainly about reducing barriers and removing disincentives preventing researchers from performing at the highest levels. There is much feedback to be drawn upon from previous consultations, however we would like your views on immediate measures to be taken to remove redundancy around Griffith (double handling, duplication of support and services, complex policies and approval processes).

Other Plans (primarily the Academic Plan) will be developed in parallel with the Research & Innovation Plan 2021-2025 and there will be sharing of information across planning processes to ensure that account is taken of the student experience (including undergraduates), engagement and partnerships, internationalisation and reputation-building.

Consultation Questions

  1. What do we need to do above all else to support members of the research community better, beginning with HDR candidates, early and mid-career researchers?
  2. Are the Research Centres and Institutes in their current form appropriate to take Griffith forward to 2025 and beyond?
  3. What needs to change at Griffith to mobilise our knowledge and create the right culture to make societal and economic impact?
  4. How can we better promote our research and its impact appropriately?