Characteristics of high-performing research units


HEFCE have published an overview of the characteristics of high performing research units, using the results of REF 2014 as a proxy for high performance.  The main prerequisites are high-performing people supported by culture, values and leadership. The report identifies three enabling characteristics: focusing on institutional and departmental practices; strategies and funding; and collaborations and networks.

Echoing many of the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, the characteristics of units with high research performance, were observed as:

  • more of the staff have doctorates, professorial positions, international experience and externally funded salaries
  • they prioritise recruiting the best researchers and retaining them
  • they provide training and mentorship programmes to develop staff, while offering rewards for strong performance
  • staff display a distinct ethos of social and ethical values
  • leaders have earned ‘accountable autonomy’ within their higher education institution
  • they have strategies that are real, living and owned, and more than merely a written document
  • they receive more income per researcher than the average research unit
  • they enable and encourage researchers to initiate collaborations organically, as opposed to using a top down approach.

Read the overview.