Review of Research Information and Capability




University of Manchester

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Review of research information and capability to prepare for reformulation of the university’s strategic plan and replacement of its reporting tools.

The University of Manchester sought Research Consulting’s support as part of a 5-yearly exercise of reformulating its strategic plan. This saw new goals set for the University’s research activity, including diversification of funding sources, and further growth in industrial funding. In addition, the University was in the process of replacing its corporate reporting tool with Microsoft Power BI and updating its data warehousing technology. This situation created both a need and an opportunity to develop an improved approach to reporting on research performance at the University.

In order to inform the potential development of a new research dashboard, the University’s Director of Research and Business Engagement commissioned Research Consulting to undertake an independent review of the University’s research information needs and capability.

Our work was designed to:
• Define the key aspects of research performance that are important to the achievement of the University’s research goals.
• Support the provision of the most appropriate, timely and focused data analytics to support effective evidence-based decision making in support of research performance objectives.
• Help staff clarify their thinking internally to professionalise analytics capability so staff can act as informed customers when engaging with pan-University development projects and exploit the potential of new tools.
• Identify, define and investigate a set of key problem statements in relation to research reporting.
• Draw on independent expertise and good practice at other institutions.
• Explore what a dashboard of research indicators could look like.

We undertook a user requirements analysis via a structured process of engagement with a sample of users, and prepared a high level map of the University’s research data universe, identifying problem statements and mapping existing roles and responsibilities for research reporting.

Our work led to a series of recommendations for the development of research management and business engagement dashboards, identifying four key work strands to be taken forward by the University over the short, medium and long-term.