Research institute reviews instruction

Instruction statement

This instruction relates to RMIT Research Institutes.

Exclusions

Research Groups; Research Centres; Research Centres that are wholly externally funded or are a separate legal entity (refer to RMIT Research Structures Policy); Cooperative Research Centres; Centres of Excellence.

Instruction steps and actions

1. Establishment of the review

Reviews will be conducted every five years and will be established by the Vice-Chancellor in accordance with the Conduct of Reviews Procedure and the Establishment of Research Institutes Procedure (section 5 - Reports and Reviews). Quality and Reviews, Global Quality, Regulation and Compliance Group (GQRCG) will initiate the review process, conduct preliminary briefings about the process for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and and the relevant Research Institute Director, and inform relevant Colleges and Schools that have staff involved in the Institute.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and the Pro Vice-Chancellors of Colleges that have Schools with staff involved in the Institute will be invited to prepare brief strategic overview statements within the terms of reference identifying the relationship of the Research Institute with RMIT and College Plans and any strategic issues for consideration by the Panel. Quality and Reviews will conduct a survey of core members of the research institute inviting them to comment on their views of the institute’s contribution to RMIT against the review terms of reference.

1.1. Review Panel Composition

The Panel will have 3 - 5 members nominated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), including:

  • two or three external members with relevant expertise including relevant industry expertise, and national and international research standing, one of whom will be appointed as chair
  • at least one senior RMIT academic staff member (at Level D or E) with significant research standing.

Panel members should not be directly involved with the activities of the Research Institute that is being reviewed, and will be required to complete confidentiality and conflict of interest declarations, in accordance with the Conduct of Reviews Procedure.

1.2. Terms of reference

Reviews will review activity and make recommendations to address the following terms of reference:

1. the Research Institute’s achievements against performance measures identified in the Institute’s original proposal and Five Year Plan

2. the contribution of the Research Institute’s activities and performance to the RMIT Research and Innovation Plan and other relevant RMIT strategic plans

3. the Research Institute’s contribution to the overall research activity of the University

4. any difficulties facing the Research Institute which may affect its future operation, including recommendations to address such difficulties.

2. Self-assessment

The area being reviewed prepares a short self-assessment document (no more than 10 pages) using the self-assessment template. The self-assessment document should:

  • address the terms of reference and the strategic overview statement prepared by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
  • provide context for the area, and identify its objectives and performance against objectives
  • identify internal and external issues facing the area and propose solutions
  • provide verifiable, transparent, national and international benchmarking.

A draft copy of the self-assessment should be provided to Quality and Reviews for feedback and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) in soft copy (Word format) eight weeks before the review panel visit.

A final version must be submitted electronically six weeks before the review panel visit.

3. Review documentation

Quality and Reviews will compile the following documentation:

  • strategic overview statements prepared by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and the relevant College Pro Vice-Chancellor/s, addressing the relationship of the Research Institute with the University’s strategic directions for research, and with the strategic directions of the relevant College/s.
  • outcomes of a survey of core members of the Research Institute.

The Research Institute should provide Quality and Reviews with the following documentation:

  • the Research Institute’s original Five Year Plan (refer section 1 - Establishment of Research Institutes Procedure)
  • annual reports and updated Five Year Plans for each of the years under review (refer section 5 - Establishment of Research Institutes Procedure)
  • the Research Institute’s self-assessment
  • supplementary material as requested by the Panel including a suite of performance data.

Quality and Reviews will provide advice on the range of supporting material required and compile the Review documentation and provide it to the Review Panel.

4. Review process

The Panel should review the documentation provided and undertake interviews with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), relevant College Pro Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellors (Research), head/s of Schools with a significant level of involvement in the Research Institute, Research Institute Director, the Institute’s Research Leaders Group (or Executive) and other relevant stakeholders (eg early career researchers, higher degree research students, industry stakeholders).

Quality and Reviews will coordinate a Review program comprising panel discussions, panel interviews with stakeholders and where relevant, visits to research facilities. Quality and Reviews will consult with the Research Institute Director and Executive Director, Research Office in developing the Review program. The Panel will normally conduct face-to-face interviews with stakeholders, but where this is not practicable, may also conduct interviews by teleconference or video-conference.

The Review Panel should normally complete its review of documentation, stakeholder interviews and development of a draft report within six to eight weeks.

Where a potential legislative or regulatory compliance issue is identified during the proceedings of a review, the secretary of the Review Panel may seek further information and advice to clarify the matter and will refer the matter to the Director, GQRCG for further consideration and action, in accordance with the Conduct of Reviews procedure, irrespective of whether the Review Panel investigates or makes a recommendation on the matter.

5. Review panel report and action plan

In consultation with the Panel Chair, Quality and Reviews will prepare a draft report (around 10 pages). Where the Panel identifies matters that are broader than the review scope or that are highly confidential these should be detailed in an Appendix. The Vice-President, Strategy and Governance will refer these matters to the relevant VCE member/s for consideration and action as appropriate.

The draft report will be:

  • provided to the Chair and amended as required in response to the Chair’s feedback
  • sent to panel members for feedback, with amendments to be confirmed by the Chair
  • referred as a final draft to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Executive Director, Research Office, relevant College PVCs and the Research Institute Director to identify any errors of fact or interpretation, with amendments to be confirmed by the Chair.

The final report will be provided to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Executive Director, Research Office, relevant College PVCs and the Research Institute Director and the Vice-President, Strategy and Governance.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) will consider the Review Report and make a recommendation to VCE on the continuation or the Research Institute for a further five years. A draft action plan will be coordinated by Quality and Reviews in consultation with relevant VCE members.

The Review Panel Report and draft action plan will be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive (VCE) for endorsement by VCE of the recommendation from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) and actions identified in the Action Plan.

Where a recommendation arising from a Review relates to the responsibilities of the Academic Board, the matter will be referred to the Academic Board for consideration after the Review Report has been received by VCE.

Where a regulatory or compliance issue has been identified as part of a review, the Assistant Director, Quality and Regulation or the Assistant Director, Compliance, GQRCG will liaise with the relevant area/s to identify actions to address the matter, and will monitor the implementation of rectification actions.

If the Research Institute has approval for continuation, the Institute’s next Annual Report will address how Review Panel recommendations have been implemented (see Research Structures Annual Report template).

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