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Research and Innovation Town Hall - Feb 2 2023

Thank you to all who attended the 2023 VPRI Town hall, we really appreciate the high level of engagement from the campus community.

Lisa Kalynchuk, Vice-President Research and Innovation, discussed UVic’s recent research accomplishments and progress with Aspiration 2030, updated on our strategic research priorities for the coming year, and gave an overview of UVic’s reputation and rankings. The presentation was followed by a Q&A session with the VPRI and AVPs Cynthia Milton and Fraser Hof. Thanks to Ian Mauro for chairing the event.

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Answers to your questions that we didn't have time to answer at the town hall.

Fraser Hof: We agree that grant funded researchers are an important part of our community. We are going forward this year with a policy revision that will change the employment relationship between grant funded employees and UVic (and that will have good implications for their benefits). This policy revision project will follow closely after our almost-concluded project on the employment status of PDFs.

FH: Undergraduates have access to many of the same UVic supports that graduate students do, and these are normally delivered through their supervisors and home academic units. OVPRI does not provide funding directly to students, but we do support their supervisors in many parts of the processes that provide students with research opportunities. In addition, our efforts to increase research revenues will create more opportunities for paid research assistant positions for undergraduate students.

FH: We welcome faculty members who want to participate in our Innovation Hubs! For KWENCH, please contact our Innovation Centre Director Jerome Etwaroo <> to explore the possibilities.

FH: Our libraries are a critical resource and are strongly supported by UVic's portion of the Tri-Council Research Support Fund (RSF). We enjoy a close relationship with the libraries, and we are working together to clarify to our researchers what sorts of pre-award support are available from Libraries and through ORS and the Faculty Grants Officer network.

Lisa Kalynchuk: We are also working closely with the libraries to respond to new research data management requirements and we are supporting Library subscriptions to Scopus and SciVal through our Global Rankings project.

LK: Thank you for this suggestion. Our new communications team is exploring options for more events on our campus.

FH: Open scholarship means lots of different things to researchers in different disciplines. We are working with the Libraries and Research Computing on a major effort toward open data, through a Research Data Management strategy and new supports for researchers who want to create open data repositories. We encourage researchers to use preprint servers wherever possible (including UVicSpace), and to include charges for open-access publication in their applications for grant funding.

LK: PICS can facilitate collaboration across the BC universities by convening climate-related forum that include our faculty or by hosting a greater number of researchers-in-residence from outside BC who want to work at more than one university in BC.

LK: Graduate students receive funding from a wide variety of sources, so there is no simple answer to this question. UVic, along with many other universities across the country, is actively lobbying govt to increase graduate student scholarship stipends. We are optimistic for a positive result in the upcoming federal budget. We are also working hard to help faculty attract more grant funding, which will translate to more support for their students. In the past 18 months, we directed new funding to provide 25K to each Canada Research Chair to support PhD students. There are other efforts separate from our portfolio (FGS is part of the Office of the VPAC).

LK: The new Research Clusters program has been launched. The first competition is nearing completion. This is a pilot program that will be evaluated and extended if the outcomes from the first two rounds of funding are positive. Our Strategic Research Initiatives team, led by Joaquin Trapero, will provide support to help the newly funded clusters get off the ground.

LK: We have just completed an external review and will be discussing the recommendations from that review at a townhall in March.

LK: It is doubtful that rankings will fall out of fashion. In fact, what we are seeing is that more stakeholders are paying attention to them than ever. In the case of the US News college rankings, a few high-profile universities pulled out because they were not doing well, and they felt the methodology was flawed. Those same universities are still full participants in the higher stakes QS and Times Higher Ed rankings. The reality is that we all know the rankings system is problematic, but we cannot ignore it because key stakeholders (eg, international students, potential new faculty, potential international partner universities, funding agencies, govt) pay close attention to the results. They are used as a barometer for desirability.

All this being said, UVic is making efforts on this topic but we are not as invested as many other universities.

LK: Encouraging collaboration is always top of mind for us. The Collaborative Health Grants and Research Clusters programs are two examples of how we are using our resources to facilitate collaboration.