Faculty Research Strategy

Faculty Three Year Research Strategy – 2018-21

Overall Objectives:

Building on current initiatives, practices and successes, we will:

  1. Support and mentor individual research in the production of 3* (international significance) and 4* (world-leading) articles and monographs placed in top-rated publications and with top-ranked publishing houses, and facilitate the impact of such work.
  1. Cluster and define broad areas of common interest, develop our collaborative research - working from greater internal connectedness to external partnerships with faculties across and outside of the Humanities - and facilitate the impact of cross-disciplinary and collaborative research.
  1. Develop a research community that embraces postgraduates and post- doctoral researchers in a way that a) forms them as top-class scholars skilled in primary sources in the original languages and the awareness of where their work fits into wider trajectories of international research in their field and b) offers opportunities for professional development in and beyond academia.
  1. Regularly audit the condition of our research culture, establishing and maintaining better data-bases of achievements in all 1, 2, and 3, and facilitating the maximal impact of its outputs.


Indicators of Successful Performance (KPI’s)

  1. Top-ranking REF score on all three elements: outputs, impact and environment.
  2. Maintaining a top-ranked position in the International League Tables.
  3. Increase in the volume of grant applications and, potentially, grant capture over three-year period.
  4. Increase in involvement in cross-disciplinary networks and international grant-funded projects.
  5. Increase in applications from internal and external graduates for post-docs through BA, Leverhulme Early Career, Leadership and Marie Curie Awards schemes.
  6. Increase in ‘Vitality’ Indicators across the Faculty
  7. Increase in top-quality graduate and post-doc applications (worthy of funding), requiring us to be even more selective.
  8. Increase in the number of acceptances of articles by graduate students to top-ranked journals and ‘vitality’ indicators for post-doc researchers.
  9. Forming graduate students able to progress to appointments in a range of careers within the first three years of leaving.
  10. Post-docs/DLs appointed to permanent or tenured positions
  11. Attraction of Development funding for both posts and bursaries.


Steps Towards Achievement of Objectives

  1. Supporting Individual Research

Through investment in professionalized roles in UGS and GS, the only major administrative role undertaken by an academic is Chair of Faculty Board. This opens possibilities for better management of individual research plans. Currently, the FBC meets with each AP or equivalent once in the year (usually Michaelmas) to talk about workload, research and career development.

  • Annual mentoring of research plans for outputs within a five-year REF cycle for APs and Statutory Professors.
  • Use of work-load modelling to gain greater parity of work distribution across the Faculty
  • Better planning of future work-load through four-year schedules for examining and administration roles
  • Closer engagement with Divisional Research Team targeting grants to support and extend sabbatical leave, leading to more grant applications and buy-outs. Applications for sabbatical leave requiring evidence of grant applications to extend it.
  • Extended use of research assistantships (workshop on best practice?)
  • Better capture and record-keeping of ‘vitality’ Indicators – these might include: editorships or membership of editorial boards; prizes; election to learned societies; invitations to give major lectures; broadcast/press appearances; advisory roles; conferences or seminars organised; referee reports for books, journals, or research grants (how many, which journals, which publishers, which funders); professorial appointment boards outside of Oxford; doctoral theses examined in (1) UK, (2) Europe, (3) rest of world; participation in collaborative projects
  • Better facilitation of the impact of this work through PRC allocation of surplus funds, Divisional funds for REF preparation and Fell funds from the University.
  1. Developing Collaborative Research

Currently, we have a termly Faculty Research Lunch, several initiatives from Subject Group seminars interacting with each other, a cycle of reviews made by RC of Faculty Centres, a designated tab on the webpages for external activities, and bids to PRC for Faculty Strategic Funding. There is room for better coordination and management for collaborative research both with respect to internal cohesion and external partnerships.

  • Annual programme for Faculty Research Meeting (once a term) to which graduate students would be invited so dates are in the diary a year in advance. One of these might be given to two or three Subject Groups in turn to speak about new research directions in the field. RD to organise this. One of these might be a presentation of work in one of the Research Centres.
  • Better integration of Research Centres in fostering a Faculty-wide research culture.
  • Annual programme of ‘shared’ initiatives between seminars advertised on display boards in the Gibson as well as electronically. These organised in TT of the previous year. Encouraging the pooling of money given to support seminars for inviting distinguished outsider speakers.
  • Regular inclusion of people from independent research centres (in Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam) to Faculty events and research seminars.
  • Better advertisement and planning for international speakers visiting Oxford and co-hosting by Research Groups.
  • Better forward planning of Faculty Lectures Series: Bampton, Wilde, Hensley Henson, Ptarmigan.
  • Proactive targeting by RC of appropriate funding possibilities with better advertisement of annual funding cycles.
  • Work on attracting external funding to bring in post-docs and international visiting scholars – increasing applications to BA Global Professorship and Visiting Professorship Schemes, for example.
  • Major grant applications flagged in advance so preparation can be recognized in Faculty stint.
  • Better understanding of ‘clustered interests’ – for example, the number of people in the Faculty working on bio-ethics and medical humanities.
  • Audit and improve the collation of current national and international networks (around evident clustered interests) that might include international Visiting Scholars.
  • Annual strategic funding available (£5k?) put into the budget for cross-disciplinary initiatives and network building.
  • Improved use of external links available through the Faculty Advisory Board
  1. Developing Postgraduate and Post-Doctoral Provision

Post-docs do have Divisional meetings, and though a Faculty member was appointed to champion their integration into the research culture, the uptake was small, and little use was made of the provision. The Faculty has been developing its professional training for graduates for the last seven years; listening to GJCC and making recommendation for further opportunities for teaching and research assistantships. We also make available generous funds to support travel for research, conference attendance and language support. We need to build upon the considerable investment in this provision.

  • Extend the current professional training in terms of a range of possible careers.
  • Working with the Advisory Board, external partners and the Career’s Service to identify opportunities for possible internships.
  • Identifying an alumni group of highly successful past students to be involved with the Advisory Board and have a representative upon it.
  • Better showcasing of significant publications and other significant graduate and post-doc achievements on the website.
  • Develop teaching provision by graduates in courses delivering UNIQ, Bridging and Foundation Year Programmes.
  • Develop lecturing opportunities – providing courses on ‘backgrounds’ and ‘contexts’, for example, or skills courses for UGs.
  • The annual appointment of a DL/Post-doc representative (who might attend FB).
  • A termly lunch for DLs and Post-docs with FBC to discuss issues, possibilities for further support, and career development.
  • Better record keeping of DL/Post-doc career trajectories on leaving the Faculty.


Next Steps

Once the Research Strategy has been approved by FB, then an implementation plan is developed with milestones and action points over the next 3 years.