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Departmental Research Committees

Model Terms of Reference and Membership

Approved by University Research Committee 28 June 2017

Terms of Reference

Model Terms of Reference for Departmental Research Committees

The terms of reference for a Departmental Research Committee (DRC) should include all the responsibilities listed below, unless these are delegated to a sub-committee reporting to the DRC; in this case, this should be clearly specified.

The Departmental Research Committee is responsible for maintaining an overview of research carried out in the Department by staff, research students, visiting or emeritus staff, associates, honorary or clinical contract holders, contractors and consultants, and for supporting the implementation and monitoring of the Departmental Research Strategy. Drawing on support from the relevant Faculty Research Group, it is responsible for implementing University research policy into departmental procedures and communicating this to staff, as set out below. Via the DRC Chair, the Departmental Research Committee feeds into the business of the relevant Faculty Research Group and into the business of Research Forum as appropriate.

1.     Research Strategy and Culture

The Departmental Research Committee will:

a. Develop and regularly review the Research Strategy of the Department, in conjunction with the Head of Department and Senior Management Team, ensuring relevant overlap with strategies in major research entities.

b. Ensure that the departmental research strategy aligns with the University Research Strategy and appropriate University research themes.

c. Develop and maintain a Departmental research income strategy to support the research strategy, and develop rolling, forward-projections of research income

d. Develop and maintain a Departmental research publication strategy (in line with the institutional strategy).

e. Promote the Research Culture of the Department by: 

    i.    Supporting a regular research seminar series, advocating attendance at these and encouraging them to be held at times when a wide range of   staff can participate.

    ii.   Ensuring robust communication and dissemination methods for research documentation, announcements and information across the department.     

    iii.  Sharing information about external research funding effectively.

    iv.  Encouraging applications for external funding, in line with requirements of peer review and demand management of Research Councils.

    v.   Encouraging applications for internal funding, such as the Research Priming Fund.

    vi.  Strategic allocation of resources (pump priming, research leave, impact-related funding) in line with departmental research strategy, and ensuring transparency in the distribution of departmental funds for research through the use of clear written criteria.

f. Promote the development of national and international links and collaborations, with both academic and non-academic organisations.

g. Maintain good channels of communication between the Departmental Management Team, DRC and all members of staff, which includes ensuring that the Departmental Research Strategy is effectively communicated to all staff, and is freely available.

2.    Research Integrity

The Department Research Committee will ensure that frameworks are in place in the Department to enable the following, and take steps to make all staff aware of these:

a. Research should be conducted in accordance with:

    i.    Code of Practice on Research Integrity

   ii.    Code of Practice and Principles for Good Ethical Governance

  iii.    Research Misconduct Policy and Procedure

b. Research should comply with any statutory regulations that may apply in their field of research (eg, Home Office legislation)

c.  Staff should understand their own full responsibility for the fulfilment of Terms and Conditions associated with the grants they hold.

The DRC will liaise appropriately with the relevant Ethics Committee (a member of which will be on the DRC) and follow up any issues with the Head of Department as necessary.

3.    Performance Expectations and Incentives

The DRC will:

a.   Ensure, along with the Head of Department, that there is suitable support and management of staff in relation to research

b.   Interpret and implement the University‚Äôs statement on research performance expectations in a manner suitable to the department, including developing and disseminating a written statement on expected performance norms

c.   Ensure the staff comply with University grant application processes and policies

d.   Put forward appropriate colleagues for prizes and awards when they arise

4.    Monitoring and Evaluation of Research

The DRC will:

a. Ensure that research information is appropriately and accurately captured in PURE, and that this information is reported on locally. This should include ensuring appropriate PURE support and expertise is available, for example, an experienced PURE user in the Department.

b. Develop and maintain appropriate procedures for monitoring the quality of research outputs.

c.  Develop and maintain appropriate procedures for peer review of research grant applications.

d. Use data from the Management Information Gateway and other sources for benchmarking research performance of both outputs and grant applications/awards.

e. Monitor departmental compliance with Open Access requirements, and ensure that all staff are aware of relevant requirements and issues.

f. Monitor the outcomes of Departmental resource allocations (eg, pump-priming funding or research leave)

g. Ensure that the Department is prepared for external reporting requirements, including the development of a clear framework designating the roles and responsibilities of departmental staff in communication of such requirements.

h. Prepare the Annual Departmental Research Review response for internal reporting to University Research Committee.

i.  Maintain awareness of, and act on, Equal Opportunities data in relation to research.

j.  Ensure that matters of concern are reported to the Head of Department, PVC (Research), or the Director of Research and Enterprise.

5.    Staff Support and Mentoring

The DRC will:

a. Ensure that mentoring expectations and responsibilities are clear to all staff, especially with reference to postgraduate researchers and early-career researchers

b. Ensure that all staff are made aware of the training available on research matters

c. Ensure that appropriate career guidance is provided for all staff

d. Advise staff on their involvement with research-related activities beyond the University, with a view to enhancing the individual research profiles of staff members while ensuring their time on research is not compromised.

6. Research Impact, Knowledge Exchange, Partnerships and Engagement

The DRC will:

a. Develop and maintain the departmental strategy for research impact and knowledge exchange with support from the faculties.

b. Foster a culture of research impact throughout the department, through encouragement of knowledge exchange activity, creating opportunities for staff to share good practice, disseminating specific impact or KE funding appropriately and supporting external engagement with potential research users and other co-creators of knowledge. 

c. Be aware of and support emerging impact case studies.

d. Ensure the department is aware of UK-wide and national policy developments in this area, drawing on support from faculty and central teams. 

e. Support a department-level system/use of PURE for the recording of impact and related activities.

f.  Maintain an awareness of research impact and knowledge exchange activity in the department, including any associated income generation.

g.  Respond to requests for data on research impact and knowledge exchange for internal and external reporting, eg KE Framework and KE Concordat. 

h.  Support submissions to national and international level assessments and initiatives. 



Meetings will occur at least once per term. Meetings will be minuted, including agreed actions.


There must be a clear reporting line between the Department's Research Committee and the Departmental Management Team. The Research Committee does not report to the Head of Department via the Board of Studies. If the Department has other related committees or working groups, their relationship with DRC should be defined.


Model Departmental Research Committee membership

While departments have flexibility to determine the exact constituency of their DRC, the following model membership is strongly recommended:

  • Chair of Departmental Research Committee
  • Chair of Graduate Board (or equivalent)
  • Representatives of significant research areas within the department major subject areas should be covered, including Interdepartmental Research centres. However, these staff do not represent themselves or their research groups directly.
  • Representatives should include an early career researcher and a postdoctoral researcher if appropriate, and if not already covered by the persons above
  • Senior Support Officers (Departmental Finance Officer, Facility Manager or Research Administrator for example, where appropriate)
  • Optional - Head of Department

Departments should aim for a diverse membership in relation to age, gender and ethnicity. The constituency should be selected in an open and transparent manner and status (eg, Professorship) does not automatically infer membership. Terms of office should be the University standard of three years, with the opportunity to stand for a further three years, and rotation of membership should be encouraged.