Research Strategy


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The University of York has an excellent research reputation established by our community of creative scholars. Many of our Departments and Centres are known internationally for their research activity. Research excellence defines York and further strengthening and improving our research, to be dynamic, inspirational and life-changing in its impact, is an absolute priority. Our vision is that York should provide a home for some of the best research in the world, and be regarded as one of the best places worldwide to do research.


The University recognises that excellent research is firmly rooted within core intellectual disciplines and the abilities of individual researchers to contribute at the highest level. In addition, researchers may need to cross disciplinary boundaries in order to tackle major global challenges, provide innovative solutions or promote an international perspective. Supporting focused intellectual activity and encouraging interdisciplinary research are seen as complementary processes, providing a distinctive and dynamic approach at which this institution has long excelled.


These will support and drive the research of the University and will be seen as the basis for research success:

  • Research Excellence
    We will conduct research of the highest quality that has the potential to be world leading and world changing.
  • Innovation
    We will undertake research to advance core disciplines and find new and important areas for discovery, through the introduction of new ideas, insights and methods, for intellectual and economic benefit.
  • International Perspective
    We will expect our research to be relevant and significant at a global level, even when it is geographically focused at a regional or national location.
  • Impact
    We will seek to ensure that our research has impact beyond academia by engaging with and influencing people and organisations in order to affect policy and practice.
  • Collaboration and Partnership
    We will aim to build strong links at institutional and individual researcher level with other academics, both internal and external, and nurture sustainable partnerships beyond academia with industrial, corporate, cultural, civic, public and third sector partners.
  • Integrity
    We will undertake research in accordance with the highest professional standards (as specified in the University’s Code of Practice on Research Integrity) to ensure that it is robust and accords with rigorous ethical values.


The primary objective of the University Research Strategy is for the University to be a world leader in research.

How will we achieve this?

1. By recruiting and retaining the best researchers at all career stages, and supporting and mentoring existing staff, so as to offer all staff an attractive environment in which their research can flourish.

We will:

  • Embed recruitment processes that select academic staff who are, or have the potential to become, international leaders in their research area.
  • Ensure working practices that promote research time and are flexible enough to support exceptional outcomes with international impact, while respecting different approaches to research (working in groups or as lone scholars).
  • Provide research facilities and infrastructure of the highest quality, embedding this priority within the University’s capital planning process.
  • Establish a prestigious support scheme for Postdoctoral Fellows that encourages outstanding early career researchers to develop their research at York, potentially leading to a permanent academic appointment in the University.
  • Provide guidance, training, mentoring and support as required to equip all researchers with the skills needed to undertake robust research with the highest level of outcome and integrity.
  • Ensure that all research support staff, including technical and experimental officers, are fully trained and integrated into the research culture of Departments.
  • Continue with our strong commitment to ensuring equal career opportunities for all, as demonstrated in our work with Athena Swan, Juno and other initiatives.

2. By giving our major interdisciplinary research strengths focus, identity and presence, to encourage interdepartmental and international research activity.

We will:

  • Support excellent research within the core academic disciplines across the University.
  • Promote the following research themes that have been identified as current areas of major research strength and excellence that cross departmental boundaries.
    • Creativity
    • Culture and Communication
    • Environmental Sustainability and Resilience
    • Health and Wellbeing
    • Justice and Equality
    • Risk, Evidence and Decision Making
    • Technologies for the Future
  • Appoint Research Champions to drive the research themes. These individuals, appointed for a fixed term through open competition and working in partnership with others, will consolidate existing research strengths and develop new opportunities for synergy and collaboration across the University and externally.
  • Continue to support and encourage excellent research that does not fit within the selected themes, while giving priority to research aligned to the themes in relation to calls on central resourcing and support.
  • Ensure that decision-­‐‑making processes for the allocation of resources are transparent and meet the highest standards of research quality and integrity.
  • Set clearly defined performance indicators for the research themes, taking into account different research models, and monitor these annually through University Research Committee. Use this information to inform decisions on the life span of each theme.
  • Promote research outcomes and activities using the York Research Database and support staff in ensuring that Pure and underpinning systems are kept up to date with relevant publication and activity data.
  • Develop a stronger web presence for research, focused around the themes while also linking with the research entries of Departments and Centres, to ensure academic colleagues, potential collaborators, funders and policy makers are fully aware of the University’s strengths.
  • Provide a clear framework in which development of the impact of and outcomes from research are seen as a priority, with support put in place to encourage such activities.
  • Promote activities that communicate our research strengths and successes in engagement with the wider public.

3. By recognising the role of Departments in supporting their staff in the development of their research.

We will:

  • Maintain strong commitment to the link between research and teaching and continue to expect that the majority of academic staff will undertake both activities.
  • Strengthen research grant planning and peer review processes to encourage competitive funding proposals and recognise the use of staff time for these purposes.
  • Employ resources such as academic leave and workload adjustment to enable research grant preparation.
  • Agree clear research expectations for Departments and Centres in terms of levels of activity and performance.
  • Monitor these expectations on an annual basis, via reporting to University Research Committee.
  • Ensure that resources for research are used effectively and efficiently.

4. By deploying University resources to support research excellence

We will:

  • Make resources available to support staff in the development of large applications for funding in areas of particular research strength.
  • Organise related support structures to encourage research income generation and to protect and exploit IP where appropriate.
  • Recognise the relative importance of quality-­‐‑related research income for some researchers and support appropriate planning to underpin their research endeavours.
  • Provide excellent research support appropriate for the needs of individual researchers across the disciplines and promote the career development of research support staff to align with these expectations.
  • Ensure that incentives offered to researchers who are particularly successful in attracting research income and producing world leading research outcomes are appropriate and effective.
  • Develop partnerships at national and international level that support the University’s research ambitions and the development of long-­‐‑term sustainable relationships.
  • Be proactive in engaging with major funders of research and external partners in order to understand their priorities, highlight York’s capabilities and expertise, and inform their policies.
  • Diversify the portfolio of research income, particularly from European and other overseas programmes, industry and other public and private sources.
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research grant development and management, by reviewing current processes and implementing an integrated University research grants management system.

5. By supporting our postgraduate research students and their supervisors to train a vibrant research community of excellent research scholars.

We will:

  • Establish the York Graduate Research School, led by a senior academic, to provide institution-­‐‑wide oversight of all matters relating to postgraduate research students, particularly training, development and support.
  • Authorise the School to work in conjunction with Departments and existing graduate training programmes and centres to ensure the highest level of broad and subject-­‐‑ specific support across the University.
  • Recognise the role of research students in promoting the research ambitions of the University and integrate them more effectively into the research culture of the institution.
  • Provide training for both students and supervisors, as appropriate, to ensure a culture of research excellence and integrity.
  • Increase Graduate research student numbers while maintaining the highest academic quality. To this end, there will be central matched support for relevant external funding bids.

'Algol' by Harry Mercer (1968) outside of Goodricke College, Heslington East

Contact details

Anna Grey
Research Policy Manager
Research & Enterprise

Tel: 4047

Research strategy 2010-2015