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Research Planning Strand

Research Planning

The UCD strategy, ‘Rising to the Future’, sets out a 5 year vision for UCD in terms of four objectives, five enablers, and four themes.

Objective 1 of Rising to the Future is to “Increase the quality, quantity and impact of our research, scholarship and innovation.” In line with this, the school plans should set out what future actions or goals will be undertaken to develop the quality, quantity and impact of research and innovation.  UCD has historically performed very well in terms of the quantity of research produced, therefore we recommend that UCD’s growing strengths in quality and impact should be a greater focus of plans, though individual school circumstances may vary.

Research and innovation plays a critical role in the four themes of ‘Rising to the Future’, and the relevance of the school’s research and innovation to any/all of the themes should be articulated where possible.

While the precise value of overheads in a given year are difficult to predict, the increasing rate of overhead return creates a need to consider in advance what it could be invested in.  Each school should have a clear basis on which overheads are invested, and at least a qualitative view on what is in scope for any overhead investment plan (OIP).

Research plans link to Rising to the Future, in particular to objective 1 “Increase the quality, quantity and impact of our research, scholarship and innovation.” These plans also links to objectives 2, 3 and 4 by providing opportunities for postgraduate education, for external collaboration and public engagement, and for the recruitment and development of excellent researchers at all levels.

Overheads generated through expenditure on research grants will form part of the school budget.

Plans for research grants that incorporate the recruitment of a new academic (e.g. the SFI Research Professorship scheme) will affect headcount and staffing budget.

See the Milestones section for an overview and Google Calendar.

  • Statement of School Research Activity to be provided at start of process to set the context for Research Planning - contained within the School Profile document.
  • Optional workshops or presentations facilitated by UCD Research and Innovation.
  • Optional reflection questions.
  • College workshops.

As part of the overall school plan, the key output is a completed research section within this.  This should contain your view of current research and innovation activity in the school, an indication of future ambition or direction for research and innovation and some actions and/or investments at school level that will enable this.

Glossary - Research Planning

Category Normalised Citation Impact The Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI) of a document is calculated by dividing the actual count of citing items by the expected citation rate for documents with the same document type, year of publication and subject area.  This metric is used in InCites.
Field Weighted Citation Impact The Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is the ratio of citations received relative to the expected world average for the subject field, publication type and publication year. This metric is available in the SciVal database.
Funder/Funding Agency UCD has a diverse range of funding sources.  However, most of UCD’s Research and innovation funding predominantly comes from public sources.  In particular Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), European Commission (Horizon 2020), Enterprise Ireland, and the Irish Research Council are the largest funders of research at UCD.
Overheads  Also referred to as indirect costs, these are additional funds on top of the budgeted direct costs of a research grant.  They are typically provided as a percentage of research expenditure.  Not all funders provide overheads and the percentage varies between funders. 
Research Centres  There are several forms of funded national research centre in Ireland, such as SFI Research Centres, SFI Centres for Research Training (CRTs), EI Technology Centres, and SFI Strategic Partnerships.  They are funded to undertake a specific programme of research over an extended period.   This is distinct from UCD’s own internally designated academic centres. 
Research Funding Solution (RFS)  The Research Funding Solution (RFS) system provides end-to-end research funding management for researchers, and it replaces the technically obsolete RMS Grants system. You can access the new Research Funding Solution (RFS) at the Research Management System (RMS) icon on UCD Connect. Here you can discover funding opportunities, view migrated proposals and grant information from RMS Grants, and register new research grants.
Scopus Scopus is a source-neutral abstract and citation database, curated by independent subject matter experts.  It currently contains over 75 million records, 24,600 titles from 5,000 publishers.
UCD Institutes There are 7 cross disciplinary research institutes in UCD with members from a wide range of Schools.  The current set of UCD Institutes are:  UCD Institute for Discovery, UCD Conway Institute, UCD Earth Institute, UCD Energy Institute, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, UCD Humanities Institute, UCD Institute of Food and Health.
Web of Science Web of Science (previously known as Web of Knowledge) is a website which provides subscription-based access to multiple databases that provide comprehensive citation data for many different academic disciplines.

FAQs - Research Planning

While there are some measures of quality that try to by broadly applicable (e.g. Field Weighted Citation Impact), there will generally be discipline specific approaches needed to truly evaluate quality. A general view would be that high quality research would be recognised as excellent by peers in other institutions.  The UCD quality framework https://www.ucd.ie/quality/ucdqualityframework/ employs an external peer review system for quality assurance.

This measures any relevant research output that can be captured in UCD’s Research Funding System (RFS) and/or major publication databases such as Scopus and the Web of Science.

We recognise that impact has academic, societal and economic elements, defined as follows:

Academic impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to academic advances, across and within disciplines, including significant advances in understanding, method, theory and application.

Societal and economic impact is the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy, of benefit to individuals, organisations and nations.


It is entirely natural for research ideas and ambitions to come from individuals, groups and centres. However if there is no coordination at a school level then there can be unwanted duplication and fragmentation of activity.  Furthermore, finite school resources such as space, administrative support, overhead investment and other financial support could inadvertently be stretched too far by these competing plans if there is no plan at a school level.

UCD research institutes typically facilitate and support research across multiple schools, therefore no institute plan would entirely align with any given school. Schools should engage with the relevant Institute Directors as part of the planning process to understand what the institutes provide already and how that can link to the school’s plans.

Different research funders provide different levels of overhead return based on your expenditure on the research activity in a given year. Therefore the amount of overhead generated at the end of the year depends on the amount (and type) of actual research expenditure during the year.  A set percentage of this is returned to schools, which is increasing year on year until it reaches 40%.  Large funded research programmes such as SFI Centres have particular associated costs which must use some of that returned overhead.

The Head of School is overall responsible for the school plan, which includes a section on research. However there are other important roles to support this.  Many schools have an associate dean or director of research who can facilitate internal school discussion and analysis of research, and provide insight to the development of the research plan.  Furthermore Lead PIs of relevant research centres (e.g. SFI Centres) or Directors of UCD Institutes can provide insight on the school’s research activity in those entities, and highlight opportunities for future participation (details available here: https://www.ucd.ie/research/about/).

The College VP for Research and Innovation (VPRI) should liaise between the schools of the college to look at opportunities for relevant collaboration and cooperation across the college.

Your college Research Partner can provide support and advice (list here https://www.ucd.ie/research/portal/meettheteam/#6)


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