Research management and support
The University of Oviedo’s researchers’ results in recent decades have placed the university internationally among the 500 best in the world.
The University of Oviedo has very competitive research groups and infrastructures. To continue growing, excellent science needs to be generated in all knowledge areas, harnessing the synergies derived from inter-curricular areas, promoting talent and promoting the role of women in the science and technology system. The success rate can thus be increased by undertaking competitive projects in the different calls. The university is committed to continue increasing the resources allocated to the Research Promotion Plan, funded with its own resources, as well as promoting multidisciplinary research.
Prominence must be increased in the Asturias Principality Science, Technology and Innovation Plan (PCTI), through the Science, Innovation and University Council, achieving effective alignment with the Fair Transition and the Ecological Transition strategic projects. Participation in the Asturias Science, Technology and Innovation Council, together with social agents and business organisations, will provide the university an unprecedented role.
A talent attraction programme will be developed (ERC projects, Ramón y Cajal agreements, Juan de la Cierva and Beatriz Galindo agreements) and the teaching and research staff will be given new rights as regards to having a decent work space.
In recent years, Spain has opted for the accreditation and direct funding of centres in which research of excellence is carried out (Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu programmes). The University of Oviedo must not miss this opportunity and, as on other fronts, must position its research units towards centres and units of excellence.
It will promote a Science Law and a human resources programme for R&D+i in its regional community, which will enable the university to compete more successfully in the National Plan programmes and in European programmes such as Horizon Europe (2021-2027). Other international programmes will also be included, in particular the scientific cooperation projects with Latin America and the global programmes for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda.
The current governing council’s spirit of collaboration has been decisive in completing collaborative research processes with the CSIC and the Principality of Asturias, through the two Mixed Centres, CINN and the IMIB, which is in a phase of being transformed into a Mixed Centre. There are also numerous collaborations with INCAR. This spirit has also been important for the launch of the Asturias Health Research Foundation (FINBA) and the Principality of Asturias Health Research Institute (ISPA), as well as commencing research activity in the latter, in which most of the research areas are led by researchers from the University of Oviedo.
Increasing resources for research management plays a fundamental role in this entire strategy. Human resources in the Research Service and the International Excellence Campus clusters, as well as reinforcing the IT service, including scientific calculation, are a priority for the university.
The process of consolidating the new tools that are being incorporated into the Researcher’s Portal will continue until R&D+i is managed entirely digitally. Processes such as digitally processing service commissions and managing the University of Oviedo Foundation agreements must be completed with others such as digitally processing invoices and centralised procurement through a Procurement Centre such as those already operating in the University of Oviedo Foundation.
Research Promotion Plan
The recovery of a Research Promotion Plan and its consolidation has been one of the challenges overcome in this management period. Through this programme, the university has consolidated funding for research groups and developed a pre-doctoral scholarship programme, among other relevant actions. In this new stage, starting from budgetary levels that far exceed one million euros, this amount will be increased to two million. The plan will be consolidated to maintain the existing groups and promote the launch of the emerging ones, even if the general economic conditions are adverse. In the short term, the objective is to increase the number of pre-doctoral agreements fivefold, with special attention to areas where there are no doctoral students.
Research support structures
The university’s philosophy of generalising research activity to the entire teaching and research staff, particularly in areas that traditionally had received less attention, has led to creating a Cluster to support research in Social and Legal Sciences and Humanities. This initiative has resulted in a clear increase in research activity in this area. During its two years of operation, it has assisted 77 research groups and processed 63 proposals, of which it obtained funding in 14. The addition of research groups from the Humanities and Social Sciences areas to this call has resulted in a significant increase in activity and scientific production in these areas.
In this new period, the university is committed to strengthening human resources in the Research Service and will promote the creation of a unit specialised in audits to manage the processes to which many research projects are subject. It will also contract one or more specialised consulting firms as a support unit to collaborate on preparing and monitoring Spanish, European and international research projects.
With regard to IT infrastructure, the university has implemented the management system initiated by the previous governing council with the integration of the FUO within it. Implementing this complex tool has been an unprecedented challenge. In the next term, new modules will continue to be added to the tool with the aim of reducing the duration of administrative procedures in project management and hiring research staff.
Scientific/Technical Services (SCTs)
The Scientific and Technical Services are an essential component in the university’s research activity. They provide research groups with access to techniques, equipment and services. This support is extended to any company or public or private body that requests it, rationalising and optimising the resources available at the University of Oviedo.
Over the last four years, the university has increased its staff, thus avoiding any service from being stopped due to lack of qualified personnel. It has also modified the SCT Regulations, enabling technical staff to participate in research projects, which has enabled them to attend conferences, seminars and meetings related to their specialisation area. Outreach has been promoted to companies, creating a specific section on the website and a brochure with the offer of services grouped by business sector, which has resulted in increased collaboration activity with the production sector. The annual budget has been increased for repairs and maintenance, improving the scientific equipment maintenance contract and reaching new agreements for essential equipment and services. The management system has been improved with new functionalities and greater automation of processes, which has enabled administrative tasks to be adapted to the new regulations on minor agreements and improved control over activity and resources.
For the next term, a significant series of actions is proposed. A formula will be sought for the legal problem of hiring technical personnel. A specific training plan will be created for technical personnel, promoting relationships and exchanges with similar services from other universities, as well as short placements in reference centres that enable them to learn about the latest developments in their field of work.
The Government of the Principality of Asturias will be requested create a specific call to renew and update scientific and technical equipment together and contribute more ERDF funds to the call to provide aid for procuring infrastructures within the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation.
The annual budget will be increased for large equipment repairs along with auxiliary equipment maintenance and renewal (Uninterruptible Power System (UPS), cooling equipment (chillers), etc.).
The Scientific/Technical Services will be certified pursuant to the ISO 9001-2015 Quality Management standard to subsequently accredit tests that may have greater demand within industry.
Access to information and scientific dissemination
The unstoppable irruption of Open Science represents a new approach to the funding policy for scientific publications, the access to information policy and the evolution of investment into accessing databases and publications. Programmes will be launched to fund the publication of open scientific articles to achieve the maximum dissemination of the university’s work. In fact, funding will be allocated for open publication in journals of the first quartile or equivalent in Social Sciences and Humanities.
To increase the visibility of its publications, automatic transfer systems will be empowered for data in research groups and their scientific production to international bibliometric management organisations.
The University of Oviedo’s Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit has increased its activity in recent years in terms of the number of events and the number of people involved. The funding received from FECYT and the EU has also increased. The university’s Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) regularly obtains funds from the FECYT calls with excellent assessment results. Future plans include diversifying activities to achieve greater social impact, intensify collaboration with city councils, bring scientific dissemination to the entire territory or the Principality of Asturias and reach audiences of all ages.
The university will promote collaboration in projects with European funding, leading initiatives within G-9 and CRUE, increasing the production of its own content disseminated through social networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and other similar platforms that are already used regularly, as well as promoting the University of Oviedo’s YouTube channel and getting involved in scientific dissemination editorial initiatives, fostering increased participation and impact on The Conversation España platform, of which the University of Oviedo is a founding partner.
The Publishing Service promotes book and journal publishing for disseminating research and teaching media and is the university’s publishing hallmark. It is divided into three main areas: printing, book shop and publishing.
Over these four years, the university has worked intensively on implementing process management, culminating in first obtaining an EFQM seal and later ISO 9001. The university has restructured the collections, creating its own and specialised scientific councils and committing to digital publishing and open access.
In the next term, it will promote reference collections, adjusting them to the CEA-APQ seal requirements, digital publishing and adjusting print runs, harnessing the possibilities of on-demand publishing and co-editions in collections and in individual monographs. Co-publishing will be promoted with Latin American university publishers. Comprehensive editorial management models such as journals will be promoted for conference proceedings and for monographs, and ties will be strengthened with other university publishers, especially within the framework of the UNE and the G-9. Marketing of the publishing fund will be consolidated through different sales platforms and digital book aggregators. Open publishing and reinforcing collaboration with the university library will be prioritised, harnessing synergies. A technology update plan will also be created for staff, so that they can adapt to a context of constant technological advances.
Transfer and collaboration with companies
Transfer, together with training and research, is the third basic pillar of any modern university. In this term, collaboration has been significantly boosted and trust generated within the business community. This is reflected in the significant increase in income obtained through agreements regulated by article 83 of the Universities Organic Law (LOU) (more than 400 annual agreements managed by the University of Oviedo Foundation), as well as increased institutional and corporate Chairs, more than 30 created at this stage. This Chair structure has come to demonstrate the university’s effectiveness in collaboration with institutions and the business community. To enhance its visibility, the University of Oviedo began to hold the Institutional and Business Chairs Conference, a meeting that is destined to endure due to its acceptance and projection.
These 30 Chairs have brought significant benefits for the student body, which can have direct contact with collaborating institutions and companies and gain work experience, as well as for research groups, and represent annual income of around 600,000 euros. The university’s vocation for the next mandate is to have specific regulation for Chairs and to consolidate all the existing ones. It will also continue to grow in figures and revenue, with the aim of exceeding 50 and stabilising annual revenue of one million euros.
In terms of business generation —spin-off and spin-out—, the existing regulatory development must be strengthened, promoting and supporting the entrepreneurial culture. The university will provide the resources (training, technical support, funding) to assist the entrepreneurial initiative to develop in association with the business expectations arising from the research activity and that also justify obtaining public aid for collaborative projects. Special attention will be paid to business generation from the knowledge generated from the Arts and Humanities and Social and Legal Sciences knowledge branches.
Since its creation in 1997, the University of Oviedo Foundation has been a key element in managing agreements in article 83 of the Universities Organic Law (LOU), due to its agility and versatility, as well as its ability to adapt to the various situations demanded by industrial and institutional partners. Its activity has intensified in this stage, in the research area as well as in the areas of employability and science knowledge dissemination, increasing its management volume from just over five million in 2016 to almost seven million in 2019. Managing company and institutional chairs, the Employment Forum and the Suma Talent Programme are essential activities carried out through its management department.
After a period of disconnection due to changes in the research management application, the Foundation’s management is fully integrated into the new researcher portal. With regard to physical spaces, two offices have been added to the Oviedo headquarters on the Gijón and Mieres Campuses, which will bring greater proximity to management.
Human resources for research
In the Principality of Asturias, a model must be developed for attracting research talent and managing resources with autonomy and responsibility levels similar to those of the best European universities and to take advantage of the capabilities of newly created centres in order to be able to compete on equal terms and carry out research of excellence.
The university’s PhD School and doctoral programmes, as well as pre-doctoral contract programmes, must act as recruitment elements for research personnel in training who will be part of and promote the generational change of its staff and those of the R&D+i departments of Asturian companies and technology centres.
The university will promote the development of a quality tenure-track for teaching and research staff within public universities, which can be developed at national and at regional levels. The problem of generational change within the University of Oviedo, which is currently strongly committed, would be therefore mitigated. Talent recruitment and retention has very few mechanisms, except for the Ramón y Cajal programme, the recently created Beatriz Galindo programme and the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and the Basque Foundation for Science (IKERBasque) programmes in Catalonia and the Basque Country. These models are easily scalable and would be adapted to the situation in the Principality of Asturias.
A parallel objective, following the recommendations made by the European Platform of Women Scientists Position (EPWS.org), the university will gradually eliminate the gender gap in research activity, as is customary for European programmes. The university will implement the necessary measures to make equal opportunities effective in scientific careers for women and men.
The University of Oviedo’s researchers’ results in recent decades have placed the university internationally among the 500 best in the world.
The university has significantly boosted collaboration and generated trust with the business community. This is reflected in the significant increase in income obtained through agreements regulated by article 83 of the LOU (more than 400 annual agreements managed by the University of Oviedo Foundation).