FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This page sets out a number of FAQs on Core Disciplinary Research Groups (CDRGs), Global Research Institutes (GRIs) and Pioneer Research Programmes (PRPs). If you have a question that is not included below then please contact us.

  1. What are Core Disciplinary Research Groups (CDRGs)?
  2. Can I get direct support for my research from a CDRG?
  3. How are CDRGs organised?
  4. What resources are available to CDRGs?
  5. Who are CDRGs responsible to?
  6. How were the current CDRGs decided?
  7. Can we still profile specific subjects/disciplines through CDRGs?
  8. How do Research Centres and Research Networks relate to CDRGs?
  9. I prefer to operate as a ‘lone scholar’. Do I have to join a CDRG?
  10. What are Global Research Institutes (GRIs) and Pioneer Research Programmes (PRPs)?
  11. How do I join a GRI or PRP?
  12. Do I have to join a GRI or PRP?
  13. Can I be a member of a CDRG and a GRI or PRP?
  14. How do CDRGs relate to GRIs and PRPs? 

 

1. What are Core Disciplinary Research Groups (CDRGs)?

CDRGs provide the main mechanism for organising research activities within Schools. There are 11 CDRGs in the Faculty as below. The names of the CDRGs are interim and can either be confirmed by each CDRG or amended as felt appropriate to better reflect its focus and programmes of work.

School Core Disciplinary Research Group
Queen's Management School Business and Management Studies
School of Arts, English and Languages

English

Modern Languages

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

Anthropology

History

Philosophy

Politics and International Studies

School of Law Law
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Education

Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work

CDRGs are expected to encourage and facilitate connections between researchers in broadly cognate areas. How this is done will be for each CDRG to decide. However, it is expected that CDRGs will organise regular seminars and other events to help share knowledge and details of current and planned research activities. It is also expected that they will liaise with the relevant Faculty research support staff to organise information briefings and capacity building events. Finally, CDRGs provide the basis for the provision of individual mentoring and support for those who are not Fellows of a GRI or PRP.

For Schools with more than one CDRG, it is expected that there will also be some joint activities where the CDRGs collaborate on areas of shared interest and with a view to contributing to a broader School-wide interdisciplinary identity.

CDRGs take over the role of what were previous known as Research Clusters within Schools. However, and as part of the Faculty Research Strategy, there is increased ambition for the CDRGs that they genuinely form the basis of world-class research environments that become real and active hubs of connectivity, capacity building and sharing between researchers.

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2. Can I get direct support for my research from a CDRG?

You will find that your own research will benefit directly through your full participation in a CDRG where you will keep abreast of the latest developments in your field and new and important opportunities that arise. You should also benefit from the opportunities provided for capacity building through the CDRG and also, where applicable, for you to connect with and potentially develop collaborative relationships with others in the Group.

However, and beyond this, CDRGs should provide the environment within which you can discuss and seek advice and guidance on new ideas for publications and research grant applications. It is expected that CDRGs will also establish mechanisms for individuals to gain feedback from colleagues on draft publications and grant proposals.

In addition, and as part of the Faculty Research Strategy, CDRGs should make arrangements for each individual academic member of staff to meet a senior colleague at least once a year for mentoring and support. This will involve the completion and review of an individual publications and grant applications plan. Research staff will gain such mentoring and support directly through appraisal.

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3. How are CDRGs organised?

Each is led by a CDRG Lead, appointed by the CDRG’s host School, who is responsible for developing a strategy and plan of activities for their Group. The strategy should be developed with the full input of CDRG members and is likely to include the identification of a small number of key strands that capture the broad programmes of work and/or areas of interest within the CDRG that have critical mass. It is likely that each thematic strand will have its own coordinator, but it is for the CDRG to decide this and to agree a process for the appointment of such coordinators.

The CDRG also needs to consider how best to manage its activities. In many cases, it is likely that the CDRG will develop a small management team led by the CDRG Lead and comprising any thematic strand coordinators appointed. The CDRG is also able to identify additional roles/posts, as appropriate for the Group, and these may also join the management team.

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4. What resources are available to CDRGs?

In addition to normal School budgets, Faculty Executive Board agreed to devolve a further £400k in total to Schools to support the activities of their CDRGs. Schools were notified in mid-October of their additional budgets and were asked to decide how to allocate these between CDRGs and other research-related activities through their School Research Committees.

The method used to break the £400k down to create a budget for each School is set out in the Faculty Research Strategy.

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5. Who are CDRGs responsible to?

Each CDRG Lead is a member of the School Research Committee and should report to that Committee. The draft strategy for the CDRG, its governance structure and plans to use resources devolved to it should all be presented to the School Research Committee for approval. In turn, the School Research Committee is then expected to approve such plans in principle and present these to their School Management Board (SMB) for formal approval by the School. This is done by the School Director of Research, who chairs the School Research Committee and is a member of the SMB.

Beyond this, the Faculty Research Committee organises an annual review of CDRGs, held in the Spring of each year, and that includes external peer-review. The purpose of these annual reviews is to consider progress made and to provide support and guidance to CDRGs on their strategies. These annual reviews are held in April/May of each year.

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6. How were the current CDRGs decided?

The CDRGs are part of the Faculty Research Strategy and the decision to create 11 CDRGs within the Faculty was taken after the comprehensive consultation process employed in the development of the Faculty Strategy. The focus for the CDRGs is to create and maintain a world-class research environment for those working in broadly similar subject areas.

Various models for the configuration of CDRGs were considered. Ultimately, there was a need to strike a balance between providing strong foundations for the development of individual disciplines whilst also ensuring and encouraging interdisciplinary connections between cognate areas. There was also the practical issue of ensuring some alignment between the CDRGs and REF Units of Assessment (UoAs). In this regard, our last submissions for REF 2014 included clear commitments regarding research strategies for each UoA. For the next REF, the University will be required to report on and account for progress made in relation to these strategies.

With the above issues in mind, the decision was taken to create 11 CDRGs that map onto the 11 REF UoAs. However, it is important to stress that the CDRGs are not driven by REF. Whilst each CDRG should take the strategy set out for it in its respective REF 2014 submission as a starting point, it is for each CDRG to decide how best to develop and grow from there. The aim, ultimately, is the creation of a world-class research environment. In achieving this, the CDRG will also help contribute to a strong REF submission for its respective UoA.

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7. Can we still profile specific subjects/disciplines through CDRGs?

It is for CDRGs to decide how best to organise their research activities. It is anticipated that each CDRG will identify a small number of key strands that capture the broad programmes of work and/or areas of interest within the CDRG that have critical mass. These can be defined by subject or thematically. These, in turn, provide the basis from which the School, through its CDRG(s), can profile particular subjects and themes of work.

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8. How do Research Centres and Research Networks relate to CDRGs?

Following the extensive consultations that took place in relation to the Faculty Research Strategy, it was decided that Research Centres and Research Networks should become aligned to CDRGs. Other than GRIs and PRPs, each Centre and Network needs to be hosted by a CDRG. Some Centres/Networks will be interdisciplinary and thus will draw together academic and research staff across several CDRGs. This is to be encouraged, where applicable. However, and for reporting purposes, each Centre/Network still needs to be hosted within a CDRG and this will normally be the CDRG where the Director of that Centre/Network is located and/or where the majority of members of the Centre/Network reside.

The maintenance of existing Centres/Networks and the creation of any new ones should therefore be justified clearly as part of the research strategy for the respective CDRG. It is expected that Centres/Networks will be used as a mechanism for profiling existing programmes of work where there is a critical mass and an existing strong track record of high quality activity (or the clear potential to develop such).

Research Centres/Networks, where applicable, should therefore be approved as part of each CDRG’s strategy. They will thus need to be approved by the School Research Committee and, ultimately, by the relevant School Management Board. The progress and achievements of each Research Centre/Network will also be reviewed as part of the Faculty’s annual review of CDRGs.

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9. I prefer to operate as a ‘lone scholar’. Do I have to join a CDRG?

All academic and research staff within the Faculty need to be an active member of one main CDRG. This does not mean that there is any pressure on you to collaborate with others on particular research outputs, grant applications or other activities. The notion of the ‘lone scholar’ is fully understood and respected. However, there is still an expectation that each individual will make a full contribution to their wider research environment (i.e. their respective CDRG) by attending events, presenting on their work and for more senior colleagues, providing mentoring and guidance to others.

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10. What are Global Research Institutes (GRIs) and Pioneer Research Programmes (PRPs)?

GRIs and PRPs have been established as part of the University’s Research Strategy and are thus targeted for strategic investment and support. Alongside CDRGs, they provide the key mechanism for the organisation of research activities within the University. They were established by the University following an extensive application and peer-review process. There are currently four GRIs and six PRPs across the University and the following three are hosted within our Faculty: 

GRIs and PRPs are larger and more interdisciplinary in scope than CDRGs and operate across Schools. They are also expected to focus on addressing broader global challenges and playing a key role in increasing the international profile and distinctiveness of Queen’s. Each GRI has been established for an initial five-year period and PRPs for three-year periods.

The four GRIs represent areas where there is already a critical mass of excellent researchers and a strong and impressive track record of research and income generation. As such the GRIs represent the University’s existing strengths where it already has global recognition.

The six PRPs represent areas of significant potential where there is also an existing critical mass of researchers and a track record but maybe not at the level or scope of a GRI and/or not as connected and integrated as expected of a GRI. PRPs will also focus on addressing global challenges and having the potential to play a key role in increasing the international research profile of Queen’s. These are ‘pioneer’ research programmes however and, as such, there is an element of risk. It is anticipated that some will be successful and develop into GRIs whereas others may only have limited success and may not proceed beyond their initial three year period.

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11. How do I join a GRI or PRP?

Following an initial call for applications to become Fellows and Associate Fellows of our Faculty-based GRI and two PRPs, there is now an open call for applications to join, that can be made at any time of year.

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12. Do I have to join a GRI or PRP?

Where your research aligns with a GRI or PRP, these provide excellent and unparalleled opportunities for you to be part of a wider world-class research environment and to grow your research networks and collaborations and thus the profile of your own work. However, it is fully accepted that, given the breadth of research across our Faculty, not all academic staff will join a GRI or PRP. As it stands, about a third of academic staff in our Faculty are aligned to a GRI or PRP. There is no pressure or expectation that you should join a GRI or PRP.

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13. Can I be a member of a CDRG and a GRI or PRP?

All academic and research staff should be a member of one CDRG. In addition, and for those whose research align with a GRI/PRP, there is also the opportunity to become a Fellow or Associate Fellow of a GRI or PRP. In such cases, you should still participate in the activities of your CDRG but some (for Associate Fellows) or nearly all of your actual research activities (for Fellows) will be undertaken through the GRI/PRP.

Fellows of a GRI/PRP will normally seek support and guidance for research publications and grant application plans through their GRI/PRP. They will also receive mentoring through the GRI/PRP and thus complete their individual publication and research grant application plans through the GRI/PRP rather than their CDRG.

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14. How do CDRGs relate to GRIs and PRPs?

It is expected that there will be mutual benefits from staff actively participating in their CDRGs and a GRI/PRP. Each CDRG should identify a small number of core strands that reflect their main programmes of work. Similarly, each GRI and PRP has organised its research activities into a small number of research strands/programmes.

In the development of their respective strategies, each CDRG should give some consideration to how their proposed strands might align to the activities of a GRI or PRP. It could be, for example, that a CDRG identifies five core strands; two of which align strongly to the work of one or more GRI/PRP.

There will be some occasions where a CDRG strand and a GRI/PRP strand substantially overlap in focus. In such cases it may well be best for these to be formally aligned, with the same coordinator for each. The strand can then be profiled through the relevant CDRG as a core programme of work as well as through the relevant GRI/PRP.

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