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Our University enhances the lives of our students, staff, alumni and partners through a wide range of activities including teaching, innovation, public engagement and sharing knowledge. The positive outcomes of our work are delivered by people with different roles within the OU and outside of our University. Through this plan we want the entire OU family, including students, alumni and collaborators, to be proud of our collective research and its impact. Some people will be directly involved in research, others will enable it by helping the OU to be successful and financially viable through other activities.

Everyone is part of our research plan and shares in the successes. To help bring everyone from across the OU into the research plan process we have consulted widely. Many students, staff and external partners have taken up the opportunity to contribute ideas that have shaped this plan. We had over 1800 responses to our survey on future societal challenges and numerous workshops and meetings have had excellent attendance and active contributions. This collaborative approach will continue as we implement our activities and there will be opportunities to shape our priorities throughout the period of the Learn and Live strategy.

The Research Plan will focus on five activities:

Much of this plan is concerned with enhancing collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches. One of the strengths of the OU is our breadth of expertise, and bringing together diverse teams is increasingly important as universities across the world look to improve lives locally and globally. However, it is& important to stress the continued importance of disciplinary research within our Schools and Faculties. Activities to help the next generation of researchers, to open up access to our research and to improve our processes aim to support the discipline-based research that is the long-term foundation for all other research activity.

This Research Plan also commits the OU to changing the way we conduct research and make decisions on prioritisation. We will seek to broaden the range of people, including students, who contribute to our decision-making processes. We will also reduce the negative environmental impact of research - directly through reducing the carbon footprint of OU research activity, and indirectly by championing and advancing the Open Research agenda, minimising the need for redundant duplication of research and maximising the use of existing research knowledge.

All universities must make difficult decisions about how to invest limited research funds and we acknowledge that many excellent projects will not be funded, but in making funding decisions we will listen to views from across the OU and from valued external collaborators.