Scottish researchers have received a boost with the launch of a new collaborative venture, writes Olga Wojtas.
Scottish higher education institutions have received an Pounds 80,000 incentive to share their research facilities.
The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council and the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals have together funded the Scottish Universities Research Policy Consortium to find out how much collaboration exists and how it can be extended. The completed study is expected by February and the SURPC hopes it will give practical help to researchers across the country.
The SURPC, set up three years ago, represents Scotland's 14 degree-awarding institutions. Morag Campbell, head of research funding and policy at the SHEFC, said it was important that the consortium undertake such a study because of the sensitivity of collaboration. She emphasised that institutions' views would be taken into account.
"It is important that Coshep is involved because we are trying to work together towards removing any barriers to collaboration.'' Vicki Bruce, vice-principal of research at Stirling University and convener of the SURPC, said: "Because of its distinctive size and structure, Scottish higher education has an impressive record in collaborative efforts. Part of the project will survey the extent and nature of collaboration in the use of research facilities within or involving the Scottish sector.'' Ms Bruce said there will also be an in-depth investigation into what helped or hindered collaborative use of facilities.
"We want the whole academic research community to benefit from improved links and access to high-quality resources, but we also need to know how to make the most of such opportunities."