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  5. Activity 5: Improving Our Processes

Activity 5: Improving Our Processes


We are committed to providing a research environment that is supportive, inclusive and equitable, facilitates good research practice based on the principles of research integrity, and enables communities of researchers to undertake their best work.

We aim to be as efficient and effective as possible so we can concentrate our efforts on generating high quality research.

Our funders expect careful oversight of the use of their investments, and our future QR allocation, as determined by our REF submission, is dependent on professional management of our research. We also have numerous compliance requirements that require governance over many aspects of our research.

We aim to get the balance right between investing in the processes that facilitate research and our direct investment in research activity.

A stakeholder review of research mechanics will inform the work within this activity.


We will set targets for:

  • Growth in Faculty and institutional research income, enabled by the development and monitoring of bid pipelines.
  • Increased number and value of interdisciplinary awards.
  • Progress against Research Mechanics Action Plan priorities with improved processes and support.
  • Staff time allocated to research.
  • Environmental sustainability of research.
  • TRAC-R values for investment of internal resources.


Revise pre and post award processes.

In collaboration with Faculties, we will implement new processes to evolve our support. We will study processes in other institutions and amplify best practice within the OU.

Measure and monitor investment in staff time for research.

Our research mechanics review has highlighted concern, expressed by academic staff, about the available time to undertake research. Given the rapid changes to work patterns caused by Covid-19 across the OU, this concern is not surprising, but we need to ensure that our biggest investment in research, namely staff time, delivers ongoing excellence in research output and supports development of the next generation of researchers.

As part of a focus on Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC), we will analyse staff experiences of workload management and work with Faculties to optimise research time to enhance income generation and research quality.

Promote the OU’s open societal challenges and distinctive research capabilities to significantly enhance our external research reputation, collaboration and funding opportunities.

We will actively seek out and work with like-minded donors, funders and collaborators to deliver societal impact.

Strengthen our commitment to the highest standards of Research Integrity by continuing to develop policies and processes to further improve research governance.

Research Committee will oversee new and/or updated institutional frameworks for research integrity, compliant with concordat commitments and regulatory requirements.

Improve the environmental sustainability of research.

Working collaboratively with institutional leads for sustainability, Estates, Procurement and others we will launch initiatives to help staff and research students improve the sustainability of their research.

We will investigate the use of more sustainable consumables, the appropriate balance between physical and online conferences, minimising energy consumption and using open research to avoid unnecessary repetition of data generation (for example of ‘negative’ results).