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Health Research Committee: From strategy to action

A new research committee at Health will enhance external funding, interdisciplinary research collaboration and recruitment of the best researchers. This calls for dialogue and action, and a forum that brings together all the departments, the Dean's Office and the Research Support Office, according to Ole Steen Nielsen, vice-dean for research at Health.

Pernille von Lillienskjold, division manager of the Research Support Office, agrees that dialogue and coordination are important to attract more external funding. And she sees it as a strength that, together, the faculty and the Research Support Office can engage in strategic discussions: "Our office can have more direct and ongoing dialogue with faculty representatives. This forges closer relationships and provides better opportunities for pulling together."

Ole Steen believes that the committee plays an important linking role and that it should be an action-oriented forum. "Dialogue is essential if we want to make decisions across departments, the Dean's Office and the Research Support Office. But I'm very much aware that this should not end up as a talk club for very general strategies.

Our research committee should focus on strategic, action-oriented dialogue that translates immediately into decisions," says the vice-dean, who also hopes that the dialogue can reduce the number of emails with questions which no one can really answer and which quickly lead to misunderstandings.

Optimal research support
The faculty, the departments and the Research Support Office have focus on optimising the frameworks and processes for researchers, partly in order to improve researchers’ motivation to apply, and partly to enhance the quality of applications even further.

The committee will start by discussing optimal research support at Health. Should researchers have access to local support? Should a team of highly specialised employees be set up to assist researchers with EU applications, for example? How can research collaboration be strengthened and facilitated? How can we ensure good internal review processes with the current high number of applications?

Pernille von Lillienskjold believes that the new committee is a good place to test new ideas for research support: "It gives us an opportunity to learn about the situation at all departments at Health with regard to external research funding. And it allows us to communicate the latest news from the funding area, e.g. major calls for applications. In this connection, we can have a dialogue about the process and our collaboration. I hope that, together, we can establish structures that will encourage researchers to involve the Research Support Office early on in their application process, so that we can provide feedback on the actual application and not just the budget. All experience shows that time is an important factor in the application process."

Later on, the committee will work on recruitment of new researchers, retention of women in research, etc. "We see a slight trend towards academia being less attractive than it used to be. There are many reasons for this, but one factor could be the extensive requirements for external funding. This makes it critically important that the framework is in place and that help is available for researchers, according to Ole Steen Nielsen. There are plenty of challenges ahead, and he is enthusiastic about future work in the new research committee.