Implications of Institute membership

Institutes are the intellectual and social home for research in the School of Informatics. The purpose of this document is to explain the implications of institute membership.

Each institute supports a group of researchers with common intellectual goals. Because of the benefits of this support, each research active member of the School is strongly advised to be a member of an institute. The members of an institute will include academics, research fellows and research students. Institute web sites give an indication of the composition and aims of each institute. Where research interests span several institutes it is possible to be a member of more than one. The mechanism for becoming a member of an institute is described below.

Normally, postgraduate students will belong to one or more of the institutes of their first supervisor. Similarly, research fellows will normally belong to one or more of the institutes of the principal investigator of their grant.

It is also possible to be an associate of an institute. This will not bring the full benefits of membership but will enable you to keep in touch with the activities of the institute. Most researchers will belong to only one institute but will be associates of others.

Members of an institute have a duty to advance the research of that institute and to play an active role in its activities. Associates of an institute have a duty to take an active interest in its activities.

Support teams

Institutes receive direct administrative support through staff on each floor of the Informatics Forum. Grant portfolio managers are administrative staff who coordinate the administration involved in acquiring and maintaining research funding for principal investigators in institutes. Normally a single portfolio manager oversees the administration of all research grants for an institute but there are exceptions to this (for example, if specialist expertise of different portfolio managers is needed for different grants run by the same PI).

Members of institutes can request a variety of services from the appropriate members of their support team. These include:

  • The provision of information on funding opportunities
  • Assistance with the preparation of research grants, including costings and other non-scientific aspects
  • Assistance with the administration of research grants, eg advertising for staff, buying equipment, booking travel, keeping accounts, answering enquiries, arranging meetings, publicity, helping visitors
  • Additional general secretarial and administrative matters

Research activities

It is expected that institutes will initiate a number of activities to create a research community and promote research. Precisely what they do is up to them but here are some possibilities: seminar series; technical report series; research equipment; social events; annual reports; web sites.

As well as the resources allocated to them by the School, institutes may bring in additional resources via research grants and contracts. It is expected that these resources will fund additional activity in the institute, for example: research fellows; equipment (especially for research fellows); some support staff; research travel; consumables; etc. The School has norms for the kinds of resources that research proposals are expected to request.

Institutes may agree to pool resources from research grants in order to make more effective use of them. This is a matter for negotiation between the grant holders and the director(s) of the institute(s) concerned. For instance, computer equipment bought on grants may be pooled.

Cash budget

Institutes will have a cash budget determined by a formula based on overheads from research grants. This money can be used to support: travel costs, seminars, meetings, small projects and pump priming, supplementary equipment and software, RA recruitment, etc.

School provision

The School will provide the basic resources of a well found laboratory to support research. This will include: computing, technical and secretarial support; computer equipment, consumables and maintenance; books and journals; postgraduate travel money; telephone, fax, postage and photocopying; etc. Institutes are expected to supplement this basic provision from research income and their cash budget.

Benefits of membership

By belonging to an institute researchers may enjoy a number of benefits. These include:

  • The assistance of a support team, especially in identifying opportunities for, obtaining of and management of research funding
  • A community of colleagues with similar research interests
  • Report and seminar series in which individual research can be presented and in which the individual can learn about the research of colleagues
  • Access to equipment and other resources necessary for the research of an individual

Membership of institutes

To become a member or an associate of an institute, applications should be made to the director of that institute. Appeals against rejection can be made to the Head of School who has final authority.

A basic provision for research support will be made for any members of staff who do not belong to any institute.