Creating the Vision and Leadership

As stated in the Strategic Integrated Plan, the primary strategic goal for research is simple – namely, to enhance Carleton University as a highly reputable, research intensive, comprehensive university. Our thematic focus and our articulation of the university’s strategic goals for research speak both to the priorities we are setting for building the research enterprise, as well as the priorities we set within the university to support research, including our institutional policies and practices. As a community in our own right, Carleton values excellence, imagination, free inquiry, engagement, and diversity, and we recognize our responsibilities to be accountable and accessible to our students and to the public that funds us.

Our last strategic research plan was very much focused on building the research culture and communities internal to Carleton. We came a long way towards greater recognition of research excellence, fostering interdisciplinary connections (reflected in new research centres and associated new academic programs), and providing more responsive and professional research services (including faculty-based research facilitators and the restructuring of support services).

In this Strategic Research Plan, our emphasis on communities means positioning our research activities to be outward facing.

By building connections and system-wide leadership, Carleton’s researchers will be well positioned to exert a transformational effect on the dialogue, paradigms, and systems-based approaches to building sustainable communities regionally, nationally, and globally.

Achieving this means embracing numerous dialectics including:

  • the promotion of short-term applied and longer-term exploratory and programmatic research;
  • recognition of the importance of disciplinary depth to achieve high quality inter- and multi-disciplinary initiatives;
  • the dynamic evolution of research from knowledge creation, to transfer, to mobilization, including understanding the integral relationship between research and education;
  • the plurality of perspectives and expertise emanating from academics, students, and our partners; and
  • recognition of our unique social position to pursue fundamental research, alongside the importance of being accountable and accessible to address the concerns of the public that funds us.

To support our vision of research excellence and impact at Carleton, we are proposing four areas of strategic action-taking.

1. Building opportunities

For Carleton to position itself as a leader in building sustainable communities, we need to consider historical data, evaluate our position in the present-day, and be visionary about the future. Such a holistic understanding of sustainability does not emerge without effort, and requires opportunities for dialogue among those who offer different perspectives, tools for analysis, and, of course, the partners and funding to explore possibilities.

Strategy: In order to build capacity, we need to identify and pursue opportunities that position Carleton as a leader in research and knowledge mobilization for the development of sustainable communities.

We will do this by:

  • Creating discussion forums for open dialogue among interested faculty and external partners on issues that contribute to building sustainable communities. We will do this in partnership with Carleton University Research Centres (CURCs), as the CURCs represent a critical mass of researchers who have a common interest and commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue.
  • Monitoring and evaluating external market conditions and opportunities where Carleton could make a difference. This will form the basis for rising to ‘global challenges’ on critical issues to create a context for identifying programs of discovery and solution-seeking. Global challenges provide opportunities for researchers, students, and partners to work together to address pressing and imminent global issues, and to provide thoughtful analysis and consideration of possible solutions that form the basis for partnerships that enable Carleton researchers to have an impact.
  • Identifying funding opportunities that enable us to build disciplinary capacity and facilitate partnerships for sustainable communities. Funding from the Tri-Council is core to the research enterprise, but this source of funds is increasingly limited and focused on partnership activities. Foundations and international funding agencies are looking to invest their limited dollars into programs that will have maximal impacts. Carleton will endeavour to increase our success with Tri-Council funding agencies, and diversify our funding base in order to achieve funding levels that position us among the top 3 comprehensive universities.

2. Embracing excellence

Establishing Carleton as a recognized force that has the capacity to take a leadership role in major research initiatives requires enabling and recognizing more broadly the excellence of our researchers. Excellence attracts excellence, and by supporting our researchers to do what they do best – research – and ensuring that our successes are celebrated and recognized will further enhance our capacity to engage the community and work together to instigate change. It also has implications for our ability to attract the best faculty and students to work with us on building sustainable communities.

Strategy: Achieving system-wide leadership requires recognition of excellence, the encouragement of successive cohorts of leaders, and an ability to support ambitious research goals.

The actions we will take to ensure that we bring excellence to all of our research endeavors include:

  • Launching a suite of awards to recognize the excellence of our researchers. Carleton currently presents Research Achievement Awards for the outstanding research activities of individuals, and continues to recognize and celebrate such excellence. In addition, we will establish awards to celebrate activities that reflect outstanding efforts to extend the excellence of the Carleton research community, whether through mentoring or facilitating partnerships that enable broader connections and impacts.
  • Actively promoting our outstanding researchers for national and international awards and prizes. A concerted effort will be made to submit competitive applications on an ongoing basis to ensure the broader recognition of Carleton’s research excellence.
  • Establishing supports and resources, as well as expectations and responsibilities that are aligned with faculty career stage. Supports that are currently in place for faculty at the different career stages will be reviewed and enhanced to maximize the ability for Carleton researchers to flourish at their respective career stages.
  • Facilitating the creation of CURCs that demonstrate clusters of research excellence and form the foundation of our institutional strengths in research and education. CURCs that address issues that can be brought to bear on building sustainable communities will be particularly encouraged, and resources will be invested in those with demonstrated success or potential.
  • Providing the necessary support to enable faculty to engage fully in their research, with due consideration to streamlining administrative processes as much as possible.
  • Maximizing faculty access to necessary infrastructure support, including adequate research space and access to equipment. To this end, a taskforce will be established to review models of research space and infrastructure use on campus and best practices to ensure that Carleton maximally supports the present and future needs of our researchers. A plan for research space distribution and oversight will be an important outcome of this review.
  • Increasing capacity through competitive programs that fund excellent researchers, such as the Banting postdoctoral fellowships and Industrial Research Chairs. In addition, establishing a more systematic approach to encouraging and supporting visiting scholars would enhance opportunities for global collaboration, as well as increase the impact of Carleton’s research initiatives (through both co-authorships and knowledge mobilization).
  • Taking notice of national and global rankings and meeting the criteria on which they are based. In particular, our competitiveness as a research-intensive university is based on funding, impact, and reputation. To this end, we need to provide the supports necessary to increase our funding success, facilitate researcher productivity, and to tell our story.
  • Communicating our success. Carleton’s many successes and areas of excellence are often understated. We will develop and implement a research communications plan that raises our visibility and reputation as an internationally renowned research-intensive university. This includes engaging our many partners who are well positioned to propagate our success stories.

3. Building connections

Critical to our success are our partnerships with researchers at other institutions who bring unique expertise, members of the communities affected by research who ought to be part of the co-definition of the issues and the co-creation of the solutions, private and public sector partners with the capacity to implement solutions, and students who not only learn from the experience and bring the skills they learn back to their own communities, but also add fresh and innovative perspectives.

Strategy: We will endeavour to build local, national, and international partnerships and collaborations to enrich and sustain research, as well as ensure access to the facilities and programs that support collaboration and knowledge mobilization.

We will do this by:

  • Building networks of expertise in areas that are pivotal to building sustainable communities, and where Carleton has the capacity and credibility to play a leadership role. These networks will extend across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. They will be local, national and international in scope. They will be reciprocal relationships that emphasize mutual benefits and leverage the assets that each party brings.
  • Creating a physical and virtual space on campus that represents a point of entry for our partners. Such a space will house research and collaboration tools and enable teams of Carleton researchers (faculty and students) to engage with community partners from all sectors to identify solutions and strategies for building sustainable communities. As a ‘living laboratory’, this space (to be known as 1125@Carleton) will be inclusive of members of the user communities, public and private sector enablers (including small and medium enterprises), faculty researchers, and students.
  • Committing to an international agenda that builds international research collaborations and faculty/student exchanges to inform and contribute to efforts to build sustainable communities. This includes dedicating resources to identify and explore strategic partnerships and funding, and administrative support to help faculty capitalize on such opportunities (e.g., preparation of international funding proposals). In addition, we will encourage efforts to increase the number of, and support for, international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who form critical bridges between Carleton and global communities.
  • Maximizing accessibility to our research through clear intellectual property policies, clear project management processes, reasonable overheads, and easy-to-identify points of entry to engage with the University.
  • Finding points of intersection between the teaching, professional services, and the research enterprise to identify initiatives for Carleton to demonstrate its leadership by developing best practices. Carleton itself is a community that should lead by example in promoting sustainability. This refers to good environmental practices, as well as to human relations, academic programs, and the provision of supports to maximize success in research. The research enterprise is a key pillar in Carleton’s sustainability, and will encourage and participate in comprehensive programs of activity to ensure a collaborative and holistic approach to a sustainable future.

4. Making a Difference

Working together with communities, both in and outside of the university, will contribute to the mobilization and transfer of knowledge. But this is not a passive process; it requires active and conscious attention to ensure that we have a long-term impact.

Strategy: To maximize Carleton’s impact within scholarly realms, as well as other forums, we will:

  • Fully integrate students into research partnerships, thereby training future-ready personnel. This allows students to develop hands-on skills and contribute to real-world problem solving, and, in addition, provides our partners with an important resource for achieving their objectives. There exist numerous programs to fund students to engage in such partnerships, and Carleton will continue to take advantage of such programs.
  • Work with other sectors of the university to maximize post-award support for research projects, enabling researchers to take full advantage of funding for knowledge creation, transfer, and mobilization. We will establish tools and resources for activities such as project management, communication of results, and organization of workshops and conferences.
  • Conduct a full analysis of research metrics and key performance indicators that allow us to go beyond funding dollars and journal publication counts to give expression to a full range of measures of excellence. As universities and funding agencies increasingly look for impacts that go beyond scholarly publications to ensure the translation of research to address social and economic concerns, we need to be more creative in identifying measurable metrics. Once meaningful metrics have been identified, we will implement data collection systems that allow Carleton to demonstrate an impact, as well as identify where we are best positioned to play a role in instigating change to achieve sustainable communities.