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Research Strategy Office


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Strategic Research Reviews


For more information

Further information about the Strategic Research Reviews is available here (Raven log-in required).

Contact details for the Strategic Research Reviews team appear below.


What is a Strategic Research Review?

The University of Cambridge has established a programme of Strategic Research Reviews in order to safeguard and develop the long-term quality of the University’s research endeavour. In commissioning the reviews it hopes to be better placed to maximise any opportunities and address any challenges that it faces in achieving this.


What does a Review address?

The University of Cambridge General Board has approved a set of Terms of Reference which are applicable to all reviews in the programme. In addition, each review addresses a list of strategic issues (typically three or four) which are specific to that review.


What are the Terms of Reference?

1 To review the research environment in the discipline, including the timeliness and potential of the fields of research pursued, against the highest international standards of excellence. To advise as to whether the discipline is well placed to exploit new and emerging research opportunities including those at the interfaces with other cognate disciplines.
2 To review the contribution that Cambridge is making to the national/international leadership of research in the discipline and the extent of engagement with key external stakeholders, including major funding agencies. To advise on the distinctiveness of Cambridge’s research and on opportunities to develop and enhance the University’s international profile in research.
3 To review the profile of academic staff appointments over the last 10 years and the wider arrangements for academic and research staff, including staff development, the balance of staff and their working environment. To advise of any developments necessary to ensure that the University can continue to attract the very best academics to take positions and excel in research at Cambridge and whether HR processes have been used effectively to ensure that these appointments are an asset to the Department/Faculty.
4 To review the extent to which the discipline is fully effective in addressing the impact agenda, both in the context of REF but also, and more importantly, in being able to communicate the value of academic research and scholarship outside the university sector. To advise as to whether the University should provide additional support to enable the discipline to achieve maximum impact for its research.
5 To review the relationship between research and teaching in the discipline and the commitment of academic staff to teaching activities.
6 To review the future strategic plans for the discipline and the extent to which these align with any strengths and weaknesses identified during the review. To advise on areas where further development of strategy may be appropriate and the extent to which additional investment will be necessary to achieve strategic goals.


What is the typical format of a review?

Each review is designed to offer an external perspective on the University’s research environment. A panel of experts from the field under review is invited to appraise activity. The panel’s visit typically takes place over two days, but may extend to three days. The programme involves a series of meetings with members of the community under review.


Who attends the review?

The review involves a series of meetings with members of the community under review. The timetable is designed so that a cross-section of the community has the opportunity to contribute over the course of the panel’s visit, including the Head of the faculty/department, University Teaching Officers (UTOs), postdoctoral and other researchers and research students. In addition, the panellists usually have the opportunity to meet the relevant Head(s) of School(s) and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research during their visit. 


How many members does a panel have?

A panel typically ranges in size from four to seven members (including its Chair), depending on the numbers of members required to achieve sufficient disciplinary coverage. Its members are from outside the collegiate University, although the Chair can be internal.


What does the panel do?


The Chair is the only member of the panel who might be a member of the collegiate University, although he/she should be external to the community under review. The Chair’s role is to ensure that the terms of reference and strategic issues are addressed in the course of the review, and to:

  • guide the panellists and review participants through the process
  • foster an environment in which panel members and review participants are free to express their informed views on the research culture under review
  • ensure that panellists are invited to contribute to the report and have the opportunity to review, comment on and agree a final draft


The panellists are expected to:

  • offer a view of the research community under review and to bring a national and/or international perspective to discussions
  • participate in the scrutiny of the activities of the research community under review through reading the review papers, attending the review and contributing content to the panel’s report
  • note whether the evidence presented to the panel is incorporated accurately and fairly into the report


The secretariat comprises the Project Manager for the Strategic Research Reviews and additional secretarial support based in the University of Cambridge Research Strategy Office. Further support is sometimes provided by experienced administrators from elsewhere within the University. The secretariat:

  • provides a point of contact for the community under review and for the panellists
  • works with the community under review to ensure that the review is informed by an understanding of its research landscape
  • drafts the timetable, in consultation with the research community under review
  • prepares the papers and distributes them to the panellists prior to the review
  • supports the conduct of the review days
  • works with the Chair to draft a report and distributes it to panel members for comment, then collates and secures collective endorsement of its final version


Contact the Strategic Research Reviews team

Rosalyn Gregory Research Initiatives and Evaluations Manager +44 (0)1223 766528
Nadine Tschacksch

Research Strategy Analyst

+44 (0)1223 336114


For more Information

Further information about the Strategic Research Reviews is available here (Cambridge only: Raven log-in required).


Updated August 2018