Research Partners Network Expansion & Workstream Update

Aminah Robinson Fayek and Julie Stephens - 06 October 2022

In December 2021, the Vice-President Research and Innovation Office announced the reorganization of its portfolio, including the creation of four VPRI Centres of Expertise and the foundations of the Research Partners Network. We are pleased to share that we are now moving into the next phase of the Research Partners Network—which includes additional research partners and new research administration specialist positions—to increase our institution-wide capacity for research grant development and administrative support to the research community.

Over the past months, we have been receiving feedback about research administration from across the University of Alberta. That input has helped to shape the expansion of the Research Partners Network we are announcing today, and is guiding our other efforts to improve research administration at the U of A. If you have reached out to us to provide feedback, thank you—we encourage you to continue doing so in the months ahead.

Adding capacity to our Research Partners Network forms one part of our overall efforts to build a fully integrated research service model across the institution. As we pursue this goal, we continue to work through the most efficient and effective distribution of services among the faculties (including standalone faculties), the colleges and their Offices of Research, and the VPRI portfolio.

RESEARCH PARTNERS NETWORK: EXPANSIONS

The first phase of the Research Partners Network, which launched this past summer, included three senior partners—one for each college—as well as five partners to assist with institution-wide research grant development and offer faculty-specific support. Building on these foundations, we are now making the following expansions:

First, we are adding another senior research partner to the network. This senior partner will support the stand-alone faculties to ensure they receive the same levels of support as the three colleges.

Second, we are adding additional research partner positions at the faculty level that will allow us to expand the research grant development and faculty specific support provided to researchers. Among other things, this could include:

  • Additional training opportunities for researchers
  • Help with innovation and technology transfer
  • Specialized research development support (topic and sponsor-specific) for:
    • interdisciplinary, large-scale team grants;
    • CFI and CRC applications;
    • Clinical research;
    • international research activities;
    • fine arts research and creative works; and/or
    • Indigenous-led and Indigenous-engaged research.

Additional partners will work alongside researchers to actively enable grant application success at the U of A.

Third, we are adding several research administration specialist positions, which are new roles within the Research Partners Network structure. These specialist roles are being created to provide additional support for researchers that goes beyond advising. Specialists will provide direct, hands-on support for researchers with administrative tasks (e.g., preparing budgets for research applications), and provide assistance with navigating the administrative environment and connecting to resources.

If you have suggestions for additional services that would be helpful to your grant applications, please reach out to the research partner in your area, or one of the senior research partners.

NEXT STEPS

In the coming months, we will be posting and hiring the additional senior partner, partner, and specialist roles described above—an anticipated 16 positions. We encourage anyone who may be interested to watch and apply for those positions.

The Research Partners Network forms a key part of our efforts to build towards a fully integrated research model which seamlessly integrates services across the faculties (including stand-alone faculties), colleges, college Offices of Research, and VPRI portfolio. We look forward to ongoing collaboration, and will share further updates on our progress with you soon.

Aminah Robinson Fayek
Vice-President (Research and Innovation)

Julie Stephens
Director, Research Partners