Research 2030

Research strategy: A conversation with Lesley Thompson & Holly Falk-Krzesinski

October 14, 2021 Elsevier Season 2 Episode 8
Research strategy: A conversation with Lesley Thompson & Holly Falk-Krzesinski
Research 2030
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Research 2030
Research strategy: A conversation with Lesley Thompson & Holly Falk-Krzesinski
Oct 14, 2021 Season 2 Episode 8

In this episode, Elsevier’s Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, and Lesley Thompson, PhD, talk all things research strategy. During a wide-ranging discussion, they look at what’s changing for universities and the myriad factors driving those changes, including: 

  • Shifts in funding 
  • The growth of open science 
  • An increased focus on societal impact, including the UN SDGs 
  • The rise of international collaboration (and associated tensions around intellectual property) 

“A growing number of universities at all levels in the US are instituting research development units to help bring life to their research strategies and complement the work that the researchers and faculty members are doing….And the value add to the institution isn't just the immediate research dollars or support for the involved investigators, but it is really capacity building for the institution, and those capacity building opportunities then drive some of the changes to the institution's research strategy.”
- Dr. Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD 

See full show notes

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Elsevier’s Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, and Lesley Thompson, PhD, talk all things research strategy. During a wide-ranging discussion, they look at what’s changing for universities and the myriad factors driving those changes, including: 

  • Shifts in funding 
  • The growth of open science 
  • An increased focus on societal impact, including the UN SDGs 
  • The rise of international collaboration (and associated tensions around intellectual property) 

“A growing number of universities at all levels in the US are instituting research development units to help bring life to their research strategies and complement the work that the researchers and faculty members are doing….And the value add to the institution isn't just the immediate research dollars or support for the involved investigators, but it is really capacity building for the institution, and those capacity building opportunities then drive some of the changes to the institution's research strategy.”
- Dr. Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD 

See full show notes

Linda Willems (00:06):

Hello, I'm Linda Willems. Welcome to research 2030 an Elsevier podcast series in which our guest experts discuss debate and disect the complex topics that research institutions face today. And welcome to our latest episode. Over these past months, we've touched on subjects, ranging from collaboration to research data. Today, we turn our attention to a theme that knits together. These various strands reset strategy. Our plan is to take a bit of a helicopter view, and I'm lucky enough to be joined in the cockpit by two professionals with a wealth of experience in this area. During her 26 years with the engineering and physical sciences research council, the largest of the UK seven research councils, Dr. Lesley Thompson was an expert sounding board and advisor to the UK as university leaders. In fact, I know she still counts many of them as close friends today. In addition to her day job, as Elsevier as vice president of academic and government relations, she held a number of community roles in the UK, including with kill university and Oxford local enterprise partnership innovation board.

Linda Willems (01:13):

She will be exploring the topic of research strategy with Dr. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier's vice-president of research intelligence in global strategic networks. Holly spends her days considering how insights from data metrics and analytics can support the efforts of research institutions, funding bodies, and science policy organizations. Holly also serves as the co-chair of Elsevier's gender equity task force. Prior to joining Elsevier, Holly had an active career in the biomedical and social sciences in the US. She launched the office of research development at Northwestern University, and she has held significant leadership roles with the national organization of research development professionals among others. You can view their full biographies show notes, and you can also find the email addresses. They're both looking forward to connecting with those of you listening today. So without further ado, I'd like to ask Lesley to kick off. What I know is going to be a lively discussion by answering this question. Lesley, if I walked into a UK university today and asked about their research strategy policy, what would I be likely to hear a response?

Lesley Thompson (02:25):

I guess Linda, it would depend on which part of the university you walked into. If you walked into the executive leadership team, they would pull out a document and it would be their research strategy. In fact, all UK universities are required for the governments to have strategic plans. That must include research. However, it's worth remembering that at their core universities are essentially scholars who are committed and inspired to do research that compels them. I've had many vice-chancellors or university presidents saying running a university is not like running in the other organization and a company or a government department, which is my previous experience. You build a strategic plan and then everyone aligns to implement it for research. Most of university strategic plans, at least in the UK will encourage or promote excellence in research that impacts positively on society and how that's expressed can be very different in different universities. The other thing with is just worth considering is the external context in which a university operates is a really important determinant of their strategy.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (03:41):

Yeah. And I say, Lesley, it's, it's similar for us universities. It is. If you say research strategy, it is, a meeting of a formal plan that document that's been shared. And so this will often be directed from the top down at the institution and may or may not contain peer benchmark data. And then the research strategy will also be what are the existing resources and expertise across the institution's research enterprise. And then there's the point that you've made about investigators. It's the investigator-led research-based. That is what the faculty members are each doing in their own individual research programs. That is also considered part of the research strategy. And, now the US doesn't have a national mandate for institutions to each have one of those. And there is variation. Some universities have much stronger formalized strategic plans than others. I don't think you would find today, any research university without such a document and without some process in place for thinking about the institutional planning process for the research enterprise as well.

Lesley Thompson (04:55):

And I guess Holly, you make a very good point. Certainly in the UK, we've seen a shift over time from funding agencies and government to encouraging universities with larger critical mass sums of funding to form centers and to brigade researchers into challenge-led interdisciplinary teams. And that's where the nudging and the support of the institution can make a real difference to whether a particular university or a collaboration between universities succeeds in winning those funds. And that's where I see increasingly the intention of the university research leaders, thinking about how they can make a difference to enabling their faculty members to really succeed in these rather large complex funding competitions, and then to execute those.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (05:49):

Yeah, great. I think they move towards a more interdisciplinary research team science approach, this kind of collaboration that's required to address wicked problems or global challenges has also been pushing universities to think about how they're allocating the available resources that they have that have effects the ways that they are coaching their hiring plans, to be able to better address one of the trends. I think we've seen across US universities in terms of the university's research strategy is a growing number of universities at all levels, traditional R1 universities aspiring research universities, and even the small minority-serving or private universities, small liberal arts and sciences college, a growing number of these universities across the board are instituting research development units within the office of research to help bring life to those research strategies and complement the work that the researchers are doing, the faculty members, but without putting more burden on faculty to drive the strategy for the institution. And so his research development units are focused on building the interdisciplinary research and team science-based initiatives and additional resources to go after the grant opportunities that would support these kinds of collaborative and large skull initiatives and the value add to the institution. Isn't just the immediate research dollars or support for the involved investigators, but it is really capacity building for the institution and those capacity-building opportunities then drive some of the changes to the institution's research strategy.

Lesley Thompson (07:44):

And certainly, in the UK, you increasingly see universities taking some central funding to try and provide carrots they're funding, retreats, funding, workshops, funding groups, to come together or shared PhDs to really enable faculty to be comfortable in that challenge-led interdisciplinary research. So when there are funding opportunities, they're ready to pounce organizing yourselves. When you see a funding opportunity is too late, normally to really be successful in the bed.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (08:19):

I think you're right, Lesley, about that in terms of research strategy of then where are resources being allocated. But it is earlier in the process that you have to build up your strategic capabilities and bringing, especially for the interdisciplinary research and team-based initiatives. It is too late. If you're first thinking about it at the moment, the requests for proposals comes out and we've seen both funding at an institutional level. So what you might consider pilot or seed funding for these capacity-building opportunities, but also the US federal funding agency is one in particular that comes to mind that I think helps to grow institutions. Research strategy is the research collaboration networks or RCN program at the national science foundation around the south. And really this, this thinking of it's not only the responsibility of individual faculty members to come together, but part of the research strategy for an institution is how to take those institutional level resources to support the investigator-driven initiatives and that the funding bodies have a responsibility, not just to find those who can be most competitive, but those who can strategically be developed into the teams that can be most competitive and that, so we see that in parallel.

Linda Willems (09:48):

I hear you both talking about the impact of team science, of collaboration, of interdisciplinary science and Holly, I think you mentioned the need to first have societal impact with research. I can imagine that the United Nations, sustainable development goals must also be playing a role in shaping those research strategies now.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (10:14):

Yeah, absolutely right. So, so I think some of the drivers for the way that research strategies are being developed and institutions are thinking about this process at the organizational level are some of these growing emphasis or trends that we're seeing. And I think to some extent there are in the US but then also global. So as you've noted, it's things like the societal impact and, and the return on investment. And I really I'm, it's really interesting to me because when I first started research so many years ago, I don't think that we'd ever uttered our ally as a term that was very business-oriented. That's what you do in the industry sector. And that's not the approach that Versiti has taken that, that comes into play for the academy. But in fact, we're seeing greater expectations around accountability. And so the societal return on investment of textile errors or poems that are being made, this is really important.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (11:15):

And we're seeing this in a variety of ways. So in the research strategy impact comes into play now with regards to the United Nations, sustainable development goals or the SDGs. I think that there's been much greater emphasis on the SDGs being a global framework in which you can evaluate societal impact elsewhere in the world, outside the United States. But I am starting to see quite recently that the SDGs and the SDG framework are becoming more important because it does allow us institutions, not only to think about what they're doing and, and planning and their own strategic plans, but it touches on one of the other drivers that I see impacting universities research strategies is international collaboration. And so if you're thinking about international collaboration and how you're adding value on a global scale, then you want to be using frameworks that are comparable to those being used in other regions around the world. So we think we're going to see the SDG frameworks and a greater emphasis on SDG is in the next couple of years to come.

Lesley Thompson (12:28):

And I just build on that because that shouldn't be Elsevier and the Welsh government published a report showing how the Welsh research community was responding to the UN sustainable development goals and how well Wales was performing. And part of that stems back to a decision back in 2015 from the Welsh government to establish and put Wales on a sustainable path supported by at the wellbeing futures lab. And we saw yesterday how, when a nation congregate together with very strong international collaboration, which singled out Wales they can really perform on some of these really large global challenges, which are the UN sustainable development goals. So a really nice opportunity to sit back and observe how the work of very many people had led to Wales being on a really successful team when it comes to tackling some of these challenges. That's very fresh in my mind given that was my attention span yesterday.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (13:37):

And, you know, Lesley then interestingly though there's maybe a set of competing interests that universities are also having to think about in terms of their research strategies. All right. As, you know, a huge proponent of international research collaboration, team science, but one of the things that I think institutions are being challenged with in the US and elsewhere is this idea of intellectual property that is since they're thinking about the research of their research output of their institutions and how that can often be translated into innovation and economic development but even the knowledge itself, the underlying knowledge to consider it as part of the institution's intellectual property and collectively there for a part of the, a nations intellectual property. And we're starting to see that while there's openness to international collaboration, we're seeing that a number of countries are also talking about intellectual property security or intellectual property sovereignty.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (14:42):

And so this is, you know, sort of contrasting or antagonistic to the internationalization trends that we're seeing and where, as you stated in the, in the Welsh report, that this can be, this can be highly advantageous to the university and have granted impact on their overall research strategy. So I think these research strategies that institutions are having to think about is, well, how do we preserve the institutions and a national intellectual property sovereignty? How do we demonstrate where we're better or best at things. And then, on the other hand, engage in activities that are going to continue to promote collaboration and cross-institutional engagement, especially outside of individual countries. And I think that's a growing challenge, right? There are these two trends and they're kind of acting opposite of one another right now.

Lesley Thompson (15:38):

I absolutely see that. So in the work I do for the Oxford shirt local enterprise partnership, where we're trying to brigade very strong collaboration across the Oxfordshire ecosystem between business and universities and national labs. But we also see the opportunities with ox, which has global position to work with international companies and trying to reconcile those conflicting demands is a really interesting challenge that I think as we go forward with areas that are particularly important and national sovereignty, be it cyber security or quantum technology or AI, there will have to be a more sophisticated, but catered consideration of these issues as each university develops its collaborative strategy going forward, both with business, but also with local and international universities. And I think we're missing from this debate, the importance that in people driving collaborations. So just last night, it was at an event at the US embassy with Fulbright. And we were looking at actually what an amazing impact, the international collaboration that Fulbright has encouraged there's made to the richness of both the UK and the U S. And I think if you couple that some of these concerns, the choices that young people make the future for their international partnerships in the world for a sec, something that people need to give some attention to so that people are set up for success for the longterm in their partnerships.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (17:19):

And when I think so you mentioned about people. I think one of the other things is I should this focus on the, on the people who are engaged in the research and another opportunity for institutions with regards to the research strategy, then I think is to invoke more data and let data inform some of these activities. I don't believe that the international collaboration or national sovereignty or security are mutually exclusive, but it will be more challenging. And if institutions are making assumptions about their research programs about their research workforce, they're going to find that they're more at odds with these, these two maybe opposite polar ends, and they can use data to offer some clarity. Where can we showcase where we have extraordinary strengths by comparison, where we are leaders in things, and we can help to convene and expand in an area of strengths that we have, where are there opportunities that while we perhaps haven't been as strong in, but we can seek collaborators that will help us strengthen and, and fill in gaps that we have at our own institutions.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (18:34):

And I think therein lies this opportunity for having data informed research strategy. And this is something I'm seen as an evolution happening in a 10 years ago. I would've said quite frankly, that many institutions didn't think they needed any sort of data to inform our research strategy. That is, we know what we're good at. We're going to just keep being good at it. But they have to take a closer look and there is more complexity in these research strategy plans than ever before. And data can really help to articulate the direction that, that like moot to move in and not let things be at odds within the research strategy

Lesley Thompson (19:17):

And that she data shines a light on strengths. And it's great if you're a member of faculty and you're working in a strong area and you can evidence-based that, that feeds back into your ability to win research grants and to fund your future students and PhDs doing great work and generating more papers and having an impact on society. So I think this data-driven approach increasingly we're seeing come in in the UK, it's maybe slightly a hedge because we've had the research excellence framework for a number of cycles now. And so everyone's very attuned to pulling the roots up of the research strategy every five years and thinking now they can adjust or change it so that when they go through there is that textbooks framework, their university comes out stronger than it was the last time around. Only time will tell, give them that the next ref results around next March next may, which we shall say,

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (20:20):

And you make the good point that this more emphasis, Lesley, I think on the societal impact and having a framework that connects what universities are doing to what society cares about and problems that society is facing. I think when we think in those terms, one of the other research strategy drivers for universities right now is thinking about then the societal irrelevance, which brings, we have to think about all of society and are at the structures inside of the universities as well, representing the society in terms of research. And so I find that a lot of universities are thinking more about the diversity and inclusion and equity of their research, workforces of the breadth of research that's being covered, or the diversity and ensuring that there is good, strong representation and application broadly of research findings that come about. But I think that there's a lot of struggles right now.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (21:22):

So it's been discussed that we, you know, we need to have more diverse and inclusive research and research workforces. And for a long time, universities have been saying that, but I'm seeing that a stronger spotlight is being shined where the diversity and inclusion efforts are lacking. That is where we still see in universities are aware that dramatically women tend to be underrepresented in the higher faculty ranks and in university leadership, that's driving the research strategy and that will have an impact on it. And then also I'm thinking in terms of, for example, other individuals from other underrepresented minority groups, also similarly are underrepresented in higher faculty ranks are not represented at all to a large extent in senior university leadership. And so it really begs the question in our research strategies, the people who are responsible for developing research strategies, how can that be affected by the diversity and inclusion that we're engaging at our institutions? And I think this is factoring in as well to the new developments around research strategy.

Lesley Thompson (22:36):

I'd just add the one thing I've seen. If you look at the structure of universities across the world, I'm seeing new types of posts been not been introduced compared to where we were 15 years ago. So most universities now, as well as having somebody on the leadership team that looks after research and somebody that looks after knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange and impact and most sustainably appointment now of specific people, responsible for diversity and equity and equality. And that can only be a good thing going forward. If somebody mind in the senior team is on achieving some of these objectives, then the universities will fit more closely with society's requirements. And that must be good for a soul. If we think about the challenges that we face in the 21st century, the fact that the only way we're going to get out of some of these challenges is if universities really do play their part in providing the underpinning research and the knowledge that can get us up to the 21st centuries fixes.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (23:45):

Yes. And, you know, Lesley did that point. One of the things I've been really pleased about is that a number of years ago, Elsevier similarly decided to introduce within the leadership ranks of the organization and head of inclusion and diversity for exactly the same reasons that you've just said, the universities are doing. That's important. I think for us, then it Elsevier of trying to make sure that we can continue to support and be good partners with universities that were doing something similar and, and adjusting our own strategy to mirror that which we see is happening in the research communities that we in to support.

Linda Willems (24:26):

I knew this was going to be a lively conversation, and it's absolutely fascinating listening to this. I've heard you both range across some of the challenges and the opportunities in developing these research strategies and, and this couple of challenges. I just wanted to pick your brains on what I suspect universities are facing now. One is blue sky versus applied sciences research, which path to follow both, or which gets more weight. And another one I can imagine is that there's a bit of a push and pull effect going on in, in some countries with governments having a view on what universities should be focusing on and perhaps universities having a slightly different view on what they feel is important in terms of research. So I just wanted to ask your views on, on those two things.

Lesley Thompson (25:19):

So shall I start Linda? I think the very false dichotomy between blue skies and applied research, join user-driven research and basic research. A lot of the researchers that I've worked in my lifetime, working in the world of research, adopt different positions at different times, depending on where the maturity of their ideas are, where the opportunity spaces are. I've never met a purely blue skies research or a purely applied researcher. I've just met great researchers. And if you give them their head, let them do the research they're most interested in then the impact and the benefits are always outstanding. So I think one of the challenges for universities in writing their strategies is to think about how they create that environment that enables everybody to flourish and everybody to be comfortable in doing their best work, supported by the infrastructure to make that happen and ask for the push and pull.

Lesley Thompson (26:22):

It's a very interesting time in the UK, given that we're a month out from the spending review will show set the budgets for research for the next three years class. And the UK government has committed to increasing its investment from 1.7% of up to 2.4% and then 3% GDP both public and private funding. This is the very real debate ranging about with that sort of money who gets the say on what the priorities are. The one thing I'm quite clear about is that she, as it's tax payer, that pays for public funding of research the community being sensitive to the needs of the nation and the nation being sensitive to the best work from researchers coming when they're given their heads will lead to a better ecosystem in the future than anybody taking a stick or taking a stance. And it has to be a collaborative effort. And we saw that absolutely clearly with the extraordinary response we had both from citizens and governments and scientists, and the challenge of COVID-19 was research. We did on COVID 19 blue skies or applied. It didn't really matter what mattered is that we overcame a terrible problem that was facing mankind and move forward with science-driven solutions and research-driven solutions that have prepared the world to come out of the COVID crisis. Hopefully with a more collaborative and a stronger focus on research, being something that can be helpful to society.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (28:13):

I agree. I think you know, sometimes it's it's a false dichotomy of knowledge-producing basic research versus directed applied research. I think as you said, Lesley, there, they're always balanced in it one moment since we don't have a magic crystal ball that we could all look into that, that pre pursuing new pathways to uncovering knowledge and understanding systems that we don't know will always fundamentally offer what we need to build upon for more applied or directed research. But to your point, if I've never met a faculty member researcher who was doing only one or the other, that's absolutely the case. And I think that as we're seeing the funding agencies having to provide more accountability and societal impact relevant outcomes of the research that they're supporting we're going to see that there's maybe more attention being paid to the fact that there, there exists these two types of research, but they're not successive of one another one doesn't have to wait for the other.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (29:25):

And that they're really kind of all in a yang gang sort of approach, and working together simultaneously. Now that said in the US we have had federal funding agencies that have been more focused on what would be considered knowledge-producing and basic research and others that are more focused on directed or applied science or mission-based. So the national institutes of health, the NIH and the national science foundation, and the NSF have been the former right, more basic science and other agencies, such as the department of energy DOE and the US department of agriculture, USDA, perhaps mission-oriented and more applied. But very interestingly in the last 12, 18 months, there's been a lot of developments for both NIH and NSF to develop new structures within those funding agencies to more directly support applied or directed research. And in the case of the NIH, it's an organization being called art by H right now, which is modeled after the defense advanced research projects agency or DARPA as it's known and for the national science foundation, a whole new directorate is currently being proposed in the context of a new congressional funding to the NSF that would be focused on technology-based research.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (30:50):

So it's an interesting thing to see that even where we've said, you know, basic science only exists in this and applied or mission-oriented research, only in these other agencies. We're now seeing even a swirling at this high level agency. I think that's going to better support individual investigator-driven research that they won't have to define their research programs as only being basic research versus applied research that can speak to how those two things combined. And we know I harken back to Louis pasture, who really said that you can't have one without the other and that we essentially set up these false structures for the ways in which we human beings think about research. And I just want to say, I want to add you to this idea of, of doing is that if we are thinking about the opportunities for applications of research, that's done within the context of the university and how to translate them out, I do see, I think this has been more strongly perhaps emphasized in the UK and in Europe elsewhere is this opportunity for innovation and economic development and the partnering between the university sector.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (32:04):

So academia and the industry sector, and looking at not only collaboration that happens in an international plane across universities, but across sector planes, so that we have academic-industry collaboration and more that's being done, which offers the opportunity to think about the research culture of the university and what needs to be changed to foster those kinds of collaboration. And then in the is part of that, the recognition and reward for faculty members to be engaged in these kinds of activities and not simply for the production of new basic research that's published in peer-reviewed journal articles, for example.

Lesley Thompson (32:49):

And let's just build on that. We are saying as well as the other sorts of new appointments being made to senior positions in universities, increasingly roles for external partnership or for strategic partnerships sitting at the board of universities, working out what their partnering strategy should be with business. And that can only be a good thing.

Linda Willems (33:11):

That is something else I wanted to ask you, both what I have you here. In 2020 Elsevier, Marie published a report called university leaders opportunities and challenges for the report, they interviewed senior members of staff at universities worldwide. But it was very interesting to see that many of those interviewed rated research strategy below research, education funding, and even facilities in terms of importance, when they were asked to name the areas in which they felt they were performing well they said that research strategies top of the list, does that surprise either?

Lesley Thompson (33:50):

Absolutely not. Linda. Remember when I started, I said that universities were essentially communities of scholars and scholars who were inspired to do research that compels them. So absolutely every university wants to accelerate research and sometimes not having a defined strategy is the best way to accelerate research. But I would add to that the critical thing if you want to accelerate research is the appointment strategy that you have as a university because we point to young Edie career researched faculty, you'll probably have them on your books for 30 or 40 years. So getting that hiring strategy right is the foundation for any research led university going forward.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (34:39):

And I think building in that, Lesley, to answer your question, Linda, when something is mandatory or required, and so ubiquitous as Lesley, you pointed out if a UK university is being required to have a strategic plan. That includes research. Sometimes people just like, well, shut that off because we must have it and might think differently in terms of the priority of that. But interestingly right in the US where research strategy is, is not a requirement by the federal government in some way. And I went and was thinking more about what did we see in the difference between the US and other regions around the world? And in this report that we did at Elsevier is that we actually thought about and broke up strategy into two pieces and said, strep strategy for universities is both having an appropriate strategic plan and then also benchmarking performance versus other institutions.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (35:37):

And interestingly, if you pull those two apart then an appropriate strategic plan moves very far to the right. That is the importance and the prioritization increases considerably. So what I think is really fascinating is where institutional leaders, these research leaders didn't think that the benchmarking performance was as important meaning perhaps, and they will lead us to in an institutionally elitist perspective of what we're good. And we've been doing things and look at the amazing scholars that we have here. We don't need to see how we compare with others and in the US for example, if you know, that I think has served many well for a very long time, but less so going forward. And when we look at the data, but by comparison with say Europe and the Asia Pacific region it's even more extreme. That is that an appropriate strategic plan ends up in the top three areas of priority for research leaders and benchmarking performance for us, universities are much higher than for the other two regions.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (36:49):

And I think that's a result of we're seeing a growing hyper-competitiveness within the US extramural funding landscape. And so it isn't enough that you just continue to try to keep the part of the pie that you've had, but you actually have to aim to compete for others, and sometimes in a very drastic way. And so research strategies are having to engage these pieces of not just having a plan, but being willing to look at your institution and see how you compare with other peer institutions and take into consideration that benchmarking data. So if we look at the report and you just kind of look at averages, but thankfully in the report, also, you can, you can pull this information apart and it gives us a bit more insight. And also how universities differ across these major regions in the world.

Linda Willems (37:41):

I wanted to throw one last question that you are, and that is about where do the pitfalls lie for universities when they're developing a research strategy, we sort of touched on the challenges and the opportunities. But there must also be some sort of danger points things that they really need to bear in mind when they're developing their strategy. Lesley, do you want to kick off on that one?

Lesley Thompson (38:04):

Yeah. So I think one of the things is choices. I'm being clear about the choices you are making, as well as the choices you're not making. There are many universities that purport to be strong in every area. There is no university in the world is universally strong across all areas. And so making choices is a really important part of forming that strategy. And also ensuring build a process that allows for the voices of faculty to express their opinions as the strategy is developed a nonoverbearing implementation of a strategy.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (38:51):

And I would S I would add to that, Lesley, a couple of things, one, I think, you know, an emphasis and consideration of pro or incineration of the changes in the external landscape and how they impact universities, universities are notoriously slow to change, right? We have many structures in the 21st century that actually were in place from the 19th century, for example. But I think the external landscape has changed. And so some of the 12 inches or pitfalls for institutions is really taking that into consideration as they're developing their, their latest research strategies. Also, this part where a realization that there simply are limited resources, and no, we can't all be good at everything of using the research strategy process to help make those hard decisions, not only about what they should be launching and starting and growing but also to inform decisions about what should be cut back, what should be sunset.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (39:55):

These are extraordinarily difficult decisions, but a research strategy to help to make those easier and can be done in a data contextualized way. You know, here's the reason we need to cut this off. Not because we don't like faculty member X or because we don't think that this research is fundamentally important, but rather the ways in which we're going to prioritize at an institutional level have to be balanced with institutional resource availability. So we think that's something that, that should be considered more in some universities are doing that quite well. And others still haven't fully embraced all that, a research strategy and a very strong plan. Considering the things about peer benchmarking can, you can be used to help drive the institution forward and to Lesley your point to really help institutions identify their differentiated strengths. Because I think that there's more to be gained for the universities by being able to, to demonstrate that then having to move forward and saying, we're just good at everything equally.

Linda Willems (41:04):

I could, I can't believe the ground we've covered in a relatively short period of time here. It's been,  we've certainly covered a wide range of topics. Are there other, any other points that you would like to make that you think are relevant to this discussion?

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (41:22):

No, I just, I think in a, for me that, that two pieces, or maybe yes, yes, I should say yes for me that the two pieces I would love to see institutions are focused more on is including a data component or quantitative component that compliments what have been traditional qualitative research strategy, planning processes, and making sure that, you know, certainly in institutions, research culture and the nature of the individuals who comprise the research enterprise and the investigators they're placed to do those things all matter but using data to help inform and uncover some of the strengths as well as places where they may want to consider moving in new directions, I think is going to be incredibly valuable. And then along those lines of data is that take seriously, this idea of the benchmarking performance, looking seriously at institutions that you see as peers or competitors and understanding the ways in which the institution can differentiate itself. And not only looking at peers that are within one's own country but for universities to take that global perspective. Since we do see a growing internationalization of research that paying closer attention to peers that are outside of the country, I think can also be incredibly valuable to institutions.

Lesley Thompson (42:50):

And let me just build on that. The one thing I think is really important is research is a global endeavor. And so ensuring you're not just thinking about competition with your local university down the road, but making sure you understand the global landscape really sets universities that are really moving forward with their research strategy apart from some of the others. Thank you. It's been fun, Linda, it's been

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski (43:18):


Linda Willems (43:19):

A rare and enjoyable opportunity to get together. And a huge, thank you to both of you for the insights you shared today. Just to reiterate that the email addresses for both Holly and Lesley are available in the show notes, if you would like to contact them. And our thanks to you too, for listening to research 2030, if you have questions or comments you'd like to share with us about this episode or the podcast in general, we'd love to hear them. So just send us an And don't forget to sign up for research 2030 on your favorite podcast provider. That way you will be the first to hear about new episodes. I'm Linda Willems. And until next time on research 2030, thank you.