Research Platforms Policy

Application

This policy applies to all staff members and students with responsibility for or within research platforms of the University.

Purpose

This policy sets out the institutional requirements and support arrangements for the different categories of research platforms of the University.

Background

A research platform is a grouping of shared research infrastructure (specialist equipment, facilities and/or expertise) that critically support the research (and research-based teaching) activities of a user community.

Research platforms characteristically:

  • support or enable the research (and research-based teaching) activities of a community of research staff and students, rather than of a single research group;
  • are supported by specialist staff, without which the platform cannot effectively play its enabling role;
  • employ cost-sharing arrangements to divide costs between users, the platform host, and other contributing units, noting that in some cases the host may bear all costs.

Research platforms are critical enablers of the strategic priorities and initiatives set out in Taumata Teitei – Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025.

The capacity of research platforms to play their enabling role effectively is dependent on a number of critical factors, including strong leadership, effective research infrastructure planning at University, faculty/LSRI and individual platform levels, effective management and engagement practices, good governance, and an appropriate and sustainable approach to resourcing platforms and supporting staff and student access.

Policy

Leadership

1. All research platforms must have an academic director and/or professional staff lead / co-lead.

Note - Dual leadership of research platforms by academic and professional staff is generally recommended.

2. The responsibilities of a platform director / lead include:

a) providing leadership for the platform

b) demonstrating leadership for the values and Te Ao Māori principles of the University

c) developing platform capability roadmaps and resource plans

d) developing internal and external engagement plans

e) planning for the sustainable development of the research platform

f) overseeing and monitoring performance of the platform

g) ensuring reports/reviews are completed and recommendations arising are implemented

h) ensuring appropriate succession planning

i) ensuring appropriate arrangements in place in the event of disestablishment

j) engaging with line managers and supervisors to ensure appropriate supervision and support for staff members and students making use of the research platform.

3. The specific responsibilities of a research platform director / lead will be set out in a letter of appointment from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and will be scaled proportionately to the platform category.

4. The director may also have a leadership role for an aligned research centre and those responsibilities are detailed in the Research Centres Policy.

Hosting

5. All research platforms must have a primary host faculty, LSRI or service division.

6. The sharing of host responsibilities with other faculties, LSRIs and service divisions must be clearly documented in the proposal for establishment and in subsequent annual reports.

7. A group of individual platforms (each hosted by a faculty/LSRI or service division) may collaborate in the formation of a University-wide “virtual platform” with a common capability roadmap and aligned approaches.

8. Host responsibilities for research platforms include:

a) providing the support that has been agreed as part of the proposal (refer Support section)

b) overseeing and monitoring the performance of the portfolio of hosted research platforms

c) ensuring the needs of hosted research platforms are considered in annual planning and investment processes.

Establishment

9. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) will call for proposals for the establishment of new research platforms, or for significant change to existing platforms, through an annual process.

10. All research platforms (irrespective of category) are to be established on the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) following endorsement by the host dean / director and a research platform investment and review panel convened by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

11. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) will issue an award letter setting out the approved platform category, the levels of University-level support offered (where applicable) and any University-level expectations or conditions associated with the award.

Note - The process for establishing research platforms in University systems will be detailed in the guidelines.

12. The Office of Research Strategy and Integrity (ORSI) is to be responsible for maintaining a central register of essential information for approved research platforms and for working with relevant staff to keep the intranet and internet up to date.

Support

13. The resource needs of research platforms are to be detailed in the proposal and in annual budgets and resource plans.

14. Research platforms may be eligible to apply to receive a University contribution to the annual budget from the pool of internal funding administered by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), subject to the RFP and guidelines for that fund.

15. Platform proposals and annual resource plans must make clear how resource needs are to be met, and what share of costs, if any, will be met by users as opposed to the host faculty / LSRI and the University.

Management

16. All research platforms are required to have a management group in place that is composed of the director / lead and relevant host and non-host academic and professional staff that are directly involved in the management of the platform and/or represent the platform’s user community.

17. The management group is to be responsible for the day to day operation of the platform and is accountable to the oversight group through the director / lead.

18. The composition of the research platform management group and any associated expenses must be proportionate to the platform category and the scale and breadth of the user community, as detailed in the proposal, with any subsequent changes detailed in the annual reports.

19. The ultimate responsibility for decisions relating to the line management of platform and management group staff remains with the relevant line manager.

Oversight

20. Each faculty/LSRI hosting research platforms will establish a research platforms oversight group to support consistent management, good governance and coordinated investment for the faculty/LSRI’s portfolio of hosted research platforms.

Note - This function may be performed by an existing committee at faculty/LSRI level, or by a subcommittee of such an existing committee, where appropriate.

21. Research platforms may also establish separate advisory or reference groups to inform strategy and good practice where applicable. Such groups may be positioned as subsidiary oversight groups (positioned between the platform management group and the host oversight group, with delegated oversight responsibility for a specific platform) if applicable, but the ultimate responsibility for platform oversight rests with the host faculty/LSRI oversight group.

22. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) may establish University-level, domain-specific governance groups to guide policy development and good practice across an identified area of research activity (e.g. Human Health Research Governance Group).

23. The composition of research platform oversight and advisory groups, and any associated expenses, is to be proportionate to the platform category and detailed in the proposal, with any subsequent changes detailed in the annual reports.

Reports

24. All research platforms are required to complete an annual report detailing progress against approved plans and any associated expectations or conditions. The annual report must align with, or propose, a 5 or 10-year roadmap outlining the research infrastructure needed to maintain competitive capability in the platform’s area of interest.

25. The reporting requirements must be proportionate to the research platform category.

26. The report is to be prepared by the director / lead with support from the management group and submitted for endorsement of the host oversight group and subsequent inclusion in the host faculty/LSRI planning process.

27. The host oversight group may make recommendations and impose conditions following review of the report, including that the research platform participate in a further review.

28. Copies of reports are to be provided to the host faculty / LSRI research committee and, in the case of University and faculty / LSRI research platforms, to the University research committee.

Reviews

29. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) will chair a research platform investment and review panel to determine any required changes to strategy, management, oversight, funding arrangements, category and approval status of research platforms.

30. The process for undertaking reviews of research platforms is set out in the guidelines.

Disestablishment

31. A recommendation from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to disestablish a research platform will only require approval from the Vice-Chancellor if there is disagreement between the members of the research platforms investment and review panel.

32. The Director / lead is responsible for ensuring that appropriate transition arrangements are in place in the event of research platform disestablishment.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to this document:

Category refers to the three categories of research platforms:

  • Department/School
  • Faculty / LSRI
  • University

The research platform categories are typically characterised with reference to six key parameters, with no single characteristic being determinative:

  Parameter University  Faculty / LSRI  Department/School 
1 Relative scale of research activity enabled Very High High Moderate
2 Breadth of user community Broad, cross-faculty/LSRI community Majority within the host faculty/LSRI, may be significant communities in other faculties/LSRI Majority within host school/department
3 Cost, complexity or risk associated with infrastructure Very High High Moderate
4 Potential to become or align to a National Collaborative Research Platform within next 5 – 10 years High Moderate Low
5 Contributions to costs Significant contribution from central University, plus host faculty/LSRI Majority from host faculty/LSRI, may be contributions from other faculty/LSRI or from central University Host school/department and host faculty/LSRI
6 Platform budget held at Faculty/LSRI level Faculty/LSRI level Department/school level

Leadership has the meaning set out in the University’s Leadership Framework that is available on the staff intranet and includes the 5D Leadership Capabilities.

National Collaborative Research Platforms include Genomics Aotearoa, the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) and other research infrastructure funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF).

Research centres are organisational structures that have all of the following characteristics:

  • has been formally approved as a research centre in accordance with the Research Centres Policy
  • is hosted by a faculty or LSRI
  • there is a director, management group and oversight group
  • there is a membership of affiliated researchers and stakeholders (where appropriate) working towards common research objectives
  • undertakes activity that:
    • is aligned to the University’s strategic priority areas or emerging areas of priority or opportunity,
    • is greater than or different from activity that would be undertaken by individual members in the absence of the centre, and
    • cannot be undertaken/achieved to the same degree through existing organisational structures.
    • Refer to the Research Centres Policy (hyperlink) for more information.

Research platforms are groupings of research infrastructure (equipment, facilities and expertise) that provide the capability needed to support the research and teaching activities of their user (academic and student) communities.

Research infrastructure is the specialist equipment, expertise and facilities that enables research (and research-based teaching) activity to be undertaken.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

Values and Te Ao Māori Principles are those listed in Taumata Teitei – Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Includes the following:

Document management and control

Owner: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Content manager: Director Research Strategy and Integrity
Approved by: Senate and Council
Date approved: October 2021
Review date: October 2024