1 Report on Research Infrastructure at Uppsala University Table of Contents Preface... 2 Executive summary... 3 Background... 5 The surveys... 6 Summary of inventorial survey... 7 Summary of deep survey Seminar Establishing new research infrastructure Co- operation with other universities International infrastructure Conclusions and recommendations Annex 1 Enkät 1 - UU forskningsinfrastruktur ( Breddenkät ) Annex 2 Kondenserad sammanställning av svaren på Enkät Annex 3 Inventering av forskningsinfrastrukturer Annex 4 Seminarium om infrastruktur,
2 2 Preface Research infrastructure for academic research presents itself as an issue of increasingly growing demand for attention. Complex and costly scientific tools are often required in order to maintain an advanced position in the international competition. This calls for ways of working that optimize the resources at hand, and better coordination becomes one important element in the strategy. Recent changes in the conditions for financial support have reshaped the funding landscape and this compels the Universities to formulate improved strategies for managing research infrastructure. In March 2013 the Vice- chancellor of Uppsala University, Professor Eva Åkesson initiated the present study of the research infrastructure used by Uppsala University researchers. The aim was to inventory current research infrastructure, and to propose suitable procedures for coordinating research infrastructure in the future. The present document is a report of the work carried out, which has included two surveys, one inventorial survey and one deep survey. It has also included a university- wide seminar and meetings and discussions with colleagues in different settings. Undertaking a study of this scope requires contributions not only from the assigned project management but also from the very organization that manages and uses the research infrastructure, the departments. We would like to thank all who have contributed their time and shared their ideas and wisdom to the study. Uppsala in March 2014 Joseph Nordgren Project manager Per Andersson Project coordinator
3 3 Executive summary A survey of research infrastructure was carried out at Uppsala University in the fall of It was aimed at establishing a picture of the status of research infrastructure in terms of inventory and management. The purpose was to form a basis for the development of strategies for efficient research infrastructure management in the future. The inventorial part of the survey collected over 90 reports on research infrastructure, and some 200 infrastructure components (instruments, databases, etc. were reported). A number of observations were made. One was that basic research represents a fraction of the use of research infrastructure that equals that of commissioned research and education together, somewhat more than 1/3. Research in the science and technology domain represents a dominating 2/3 of the total use. Most infrastructures show a host- heavy profile in their user base, although there is a spread in user affiliation, including international users. Positive answers were usually given regarding incentive and possibility for widening the user base. User access is often given on the basis of scientific merits, but other criteria are also in place. Utilization efficiency is generally reported to be high. The management of infrastructure facilities varies in organization. Every second one has a board or a steering group and one in three has a program committee. Every second board/steering group and every fourth program committee has representation from the host department or faculty. The majority of program committees have external representation; one in five has international representation. Regarding economy, the cost range 2-10 MSEK for investment is the most common one, with the adjacent ranges MSEK, respectively >10 MSEK being of equal size and making up the complement. Operation costs are most often covered by external sources. It is noted that allocations for upgrades of infrastructure is virtually non- existent. One third of the infrastructures have been subject to documented evaluation, and a similar figure is shown for documented existence of visions and plans for the future. The deep survey and other input to this study have resulted in a number of conclusions and recommendations. The first finding is the need to move the focus away from investment cost, and to regard the cost for infrastructure as one type of cost along with other costs for pursuing research. This change calls for more of long- term perspective in the strategic planning of departments and faculties, a fact that has to be consciously perceived and accepted. As a consequence of the University being compelled to support local research infrastructure to a larger extent in the future it would be good practice to make regular reservations. This may activate the awareness of the prioritization necessary to cover these costs. Bringing ideas of new infrastructure to the attention of the strategic processes at departments and faculties should be stimulated and facilitated by routines linked to the regular yearly planning. A way of working could be to stimulate the forming of interest groups around particular infrastructure needs, whereby researchers gather
4 4 to formulate proposals to be further attended to in the regular planning process. Planning support stimulus could be considered. In order to promote efficient use of research infrastructure one should take action in several different ways. One would be to consolidate the knowledge and awareness of existing facilities. Another is to use various instruments to stimulate more efficient use of research infrastructure, such as co- location of equipment, which would open for shared personnel and offer increased level of performance. One example of control means is by adjusting rent of laboratory space to a suitable level. For establishing joint infrastructure with other universities it would be desirable to have a structure anchored in the disciplinary domain managements that can support the inter- university dialogue and the preparation of joint proposals. This structure could be formed by assigned members of the domain boards of the three science domains. Though these individuals would often mainly act for their own domain in individual cases of joint inter- university infrastructures, there are instances of overlap and common interests. This structure should form an entity at the university management level. There should be a function at the science domain level to support initiatives for partnership in the establishment of research infrastructure abroad, or in established facilities or networks. In order to be attractive as a partner existing or planned resources and facilities at the university are of importance, and awareness of this should be present in the strategic planning. It is proposed that measures be taken to promote the dialogues and contacts with other external funding agencies. It would be good practice to recognize individual Uppsala researchers engaged in various funding agencies and make sure that they are aware of strategies and policies of Uppsala University. Also, the local navigation skills and insight in funding matters of the research secretary organization is an important asset that should be maintained and refined. Uppsala University should put effort into contributing to VR:s initiative to create a forum for dialogue with the Swedish Universities. In doing so it is important to keep good contact with the other universities, not the least in the regional context.
5 5 Background Since some years the landscape of research infrastructure is in a phase of rapid change, at the local University level as well as nationally and internationally. The changes are driven by different mechanisms. Competition between researchers, at an international level, drives the ambition to get ones hands on the best research tools. At the same time, the cost and complexity of advanced research infrastructure often requires joint efforts. As always economy is a driver, and striving for efficient use of research infrastructure is a significant part of the changing process. The two major sources for funding of research in Sweden, Vetenskapsrådet (VR) and Knut & Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse (KAW) have changed their policy for research infrastructure recently, and as a matter of fact; VR is presently in a process of reshaping its strategies for research infrastructure support further. The main difference from earlier is that one is prepared to consider support only for infrastructure that has multi- university or national nature, i.e. the requirement for collaboration and joint effort has been strengthened substantially. KAW has recently abandoned the regularly occurring calls for proposals for research infrastructure. It seems though that KAW would consider support of research infrastructure also in the future, but based on a different form of initiating proposals. The new research infrastructure landscape presents some challenges to Uppsala University, and likewise to other universities. Firstly, infrastructure that concerns essentially only Uppsala University and does not qualify as part of research projects proposed to VR or KAW or other sources have to be funded locally. Processes suitable to serve this purpose have to be implemented at department and faculty levels. Secondly, one needs to develop the way the research infrastructure is operated and used, in terms of efficiency as well as in quality of service. Thirdly, suitable processes that support building cases for joint inter- university efforts have to be developed. They need to be integrated in the regular ways of working at different levels in the University hierarchy. A fourth challenge concerns engagement in international research infrastructure. Although many individual researchers and groups are presently users of international research facilities, there is a potential for quality development by the University more actively promoting international engagements. Even a fifth challenge presents itself. It concerns the interaction between the universities and VR. The Council for Research Infrastructure (RFI) at VR has produced a long- term strategic plan for academic infrastructure in Sweden and abroad, as a roadmap for the long- term need for national and international research infrastructure, called Guide to Infrastructures 1. It has been done in collaboration with other Swedish funding agencies. It was first published in 2006 and it has later been updated twice, most lately As pointed out by K. Bremer in his report to VR in 1 Vetenskapsrådet, Vetenskapsrådets guide till infrastrukturen 2012
6 one would have liked to see a closer interaction with the universities in order to make the document more usable as a tool for long- term planning. However, a more structured strategy for research infrastructure management at the universities is also a prerequisite for successful interaction, and working in this direction is also one of the challenges for our University. The present report answers to the task given by the Vice- Chancellor to make an inventory of existing research infrastructure for Uppsala University researchers and to suggest actions to be taken in order to manage research infrastructure in an efficient way. Thus, it aims at contributing to coping with the challenges presented above. The surveys Although administrative records of infrastructure procurements exist in holding registers, transparent and descriptive accounts are presently not available at the University. This may hamper efficient access to these resources, and also lead to difficulties in the strategic planning process. In order to approach a better overview of existing research infrastructure and its use and management, an inventorial survey (Survey 1) has been conducted. The aim was to identify research infrastructure that is used and managed by Uppsala University, and also to get more detailed information on its management in terms of e.g. economy, user base, operation mode and user support. Also, it can provide an embryo to a useful tool for making existing research infrastructure known and available. In addition to this inventorial survey a second survey has been carried out (Survey 2) aiming to obtain articulated viewpoints and suggestions on research infrastructure matters. This survey was directed to individuals who had been identified and selected through the broad inventory survey as having interest or experience in research infrastructure. The inventorial survey was carried out using a web tool called KURT, which has been developed within the faculties of medicine and pharmacy at Uppsala University. The survey was of tick box type, with optional commenting fields. The survey questions were organized under ten different headlines according to the following. Areas of application User base/availability Organization and ownership aspects User support Economy Time perspective Visions and future needs Evaluations Sources of information Extras 2 Vetenskapsrådet (2013), Synpunkter på planering, organisation, styrning och finansiering av svensk nationell infrastruktur för forskning med stöd från Vetenskapsrådet genom rådet för infrastruktur (av Kåre Bremer)
7 7 The survey was first distributed as a test survey to a few departments over the three different disciplinary areas of the University in the late summer of It was subsequently distributed to all departments of the University in a slightly modified form a month later. Official due date was October 31, and by extending the deadline by four weeks an additional 19 research infrastructure accountings were received, ending at 92 survey input forms. In total some 200 different infrastructures (instruments, databases, etc.) were described in these input forms, representing an investment of the order of SEK 1 billion. Many infrastructures are however difficult to value in monetary terms; for instance university libraries, collections of objects, or data in databases. The inventorial survey does not claim to be complete and quite a few infrastructures are known not to be reported in the survey. However, it gives an idea of the wide variety of research infrastructure available at a large university. Summary of inventorial survey In order to pick up as much information as possible of existing infrastructure the inventorial survey posed questions that were meant to yield the relevant information without being tied to a very strict definition of the term infrastructure. It turns out that the concept of infrastructure in academic research is not very well understood by all. Some relate the term only to big instruments or facilities, in some cases failing to see that they actually do possess research infrastructure. In the survey research infrastructure was described to be a functional resource (equipment, structure, installation, database, etc.), local or part of a national or international one that meets certain criteria, such as relating to the cost of investment and operation, scope of use, accessibility, mode of operation, etc. As a guide a resource was considered to be an infrastructure if its acquisition cost in the normal case was at least 0.5 MSEK, the use not restricted to only one research group but available for others, also outside the department, and with a defined form for its operation. However, an important message was that a resource that would not qualify as infrastructure today could possibly do so given some changes in its use, support and operation. For example, an instrument used only by very few researchers today might be made available to a broader user base, benefitting by a richer source of funding for operation support. The survey was distributed to the relevant informants through the heads of department at all departments, who would identify the suitable persons to provide the requested information by filling out the electronic form. The survey did not seem to cause too much problem as reflected by the limited number of questions asked from the departments during the process. In the following an overall picture of the survey results is given. The survey questions are presented in Annex 1. A summary of the infrastructures reported (in Swedish) is presented in Annex 3. Areas of use The different types of use of the research infrastructure were probed, as well as the distribution with respect to science area. The types of use were given in categories
8 8 Basic research, Contract research, Education, The third task, and Other. The diagrams below show these distributions. As expected the largest fraction is for basic research, about 40%. Contract (commissioned) research and education (including graduate education) each occupies a bit above 20%, and the third task share is around 10%. Figure 1. Distribution of different types of research conducted using Uppsala University research infrastructure. The different disciplinary domains are represented in the use of infrastructure according to Figure 2. Research in the area of science and technology is dominating with its 60%, followed by medical/pharmaceutical science at 24%, and humanities/social science at 14%. Possibly, there might be an effect of a difference in conception of infrastructure between the different areas, which could affect the figures at least slightly. Also planned use was asked for and here there seems to be a difference between the areas. For medical/pharmaceutical science one reported plans for future use in over 30% of the cases, as compared to 12% for science and technology, and 10% for humanities and social science. User base/availability Under this headline it was enquired about access and use for users representing various degree of proximity to the facility host. Also, it probed the utilization ratio in terms of percentage of maximum possible use. Regarding access it was clear that Figure 2.Distribution of the use of Uppsala University research infrastructure by disciplinary domain. only in very few cases there was any restriction in access for the different categories and in these cases mainly restriction for foreign Universities and non- University
9 9 users. However, a question of whether there were equal conditions for users of different categories turned out to show a clear difference, in fact in a majority of the cases. Although access in principle exists, there are often a number of different boundary conditions associated with the use of many of the infrastructures. For example, there could be administrative requirements for certain categories; the cost can differ between different categories, certain training could be required, etc. The way access is granted when the infrastructure is oversubscribed differs. Access is in most cases primarily determined on the basis of the scientific merits of the project. Other decision procedures are also used, such as priority decided by the director of the facility. Figure 3. Distribution of the use of Uppsala University infrastructure by categories of varying proximity. Regarding the actual use of infrastructure the picture was different. Figure 3 shows that the host group is most frequently appearing in the usage categories above 60%, contrary to all other categories, which instead has below 20% as their most frequent category. The utilization ratio was reported to be generally high; over 80% of the infrastructure reported was claimed to have a utilization ratio of 80%. The survey enquired about incentives and prospects to widen the user base, and whether one could see how that could be accomplished. Here the answers indicated very positively both incentive and desire to increase the user base, actually over 70%. Furthermore, every second survey report answered that there were existing ideas of how this could be done. Organization and ownership The actual performance of a research facility, being an advanced instrument or a database, is not only set by its technical performance at delivery, but often as much on its quality of maintenance and operation skills. The inventorial survey was therefore meant not only to identify the various research infrastructures but also to get a picture of how the facilities are managed. A number of questions were posed in the survey regarding organization, ownership, and operation. The survey shows that there exists a board or steering group for the infrastructures in 50% of the cases, and that there exists a program committee in one out of three cases. 40% of the representation in the board/steering group is external. Somewhat
10 10 less than 50% of the boards/steering groups have representation from the department or faculty that hosts the infrastructure. Regarding program committee the representation from the host department/faculty is less than for boards/steering groups, about 25%. Over 50% of the program committees have external representation, and international participation is present for almost 20% of the infrastructures. User support The support organization for the infrastructures has mostly dedicated personnel belonging to different categories. Figure 4 shows the corresponding distribution in terms of frequency of occurrence in the survey answers. Dedicated TA personnel is Figure 4.Occurrence of different categories in support organizations of infrastructure. the most common case, but one can see that graduate students and postdocs also play an important role. The number of personnel that are qualified to handle the infrastructure varies, with 3-5 being the most common size, about 60%, and 1-2 persons for 20%. User support is usually offered in different forms, mostly as hands- on support or training. Close to 2/3 of the infrastructures provide direct hands- on support, and training is offered at every second facility. Economy The cost for investments, operation and upgrades is of utmost importance, and certainly a main driver for the efforts to develop infrastructure management. As pointed out elsewhere in this document the two latter cost types have sometimes Figure 5.Distribution of cost level of infrastructure procurements.
11 11 not received sufficient focus in the planning processes. The level and distribution of different cost categories is displayed in Figures 5 and 6. The majority of infrastructures reported lies in the span 2-10 MSEK, with equal numbers for the adjacent intervals >10 MSEK, and MSEK, respectively. The operation costs distribution, including personnel is presented in Figure 6. Figure 6. Distribution of annual operation costs including personnel The funding source for covering operation costs is often a mixture of different sources, and most common is external sources. Figure 7 shows the occurrence of different sources for covering operation costs. Figure 7.Various sources for covering operation costs of research infrastructure.. In order to keep infrastructure up to date and at high level of performance one needs occasional upgrades to be made, hardware- wise or software- wise. The survey asked for estimates of upgrade costs, and the result is shown in Figure 8. It should be noted that essentially no allocations to cover upgrade costs are being made.
12 12 Figure 8. Distributions of estimated yearly cost to cover upgrades Figure 9. Estimated technical lifetime of infrastructure, with and without upgrades. Time perspective The age of infrastructure in use today varies from a quarter century or older to brand new. 80% is less than 23 years old and 56% less than 13 years. 17% of the present infrastructure is less than 3 years old. For the lion s share of all infrastructure (75%) the original idea or initiative for it was taken by individual researchers or research groups. The estimated technical lifetime with upgrades respectively without upgrades is presented in Figure 9.
13 13 Figure 10. Existence of visions and plans for future use, decommissioning or replacement of infrastructure. Vision and future needs The survey enquired about visions and plans for the future of the infrastructure, including decommissioning and replacement. It asked in addition about whether visions and plans have been documented. Figure 9 displays the result of this enquiry where the columns represent number of survey inputs. Evaluations Under this heading in the survey it was asked whether and in what form evaluations of the infrastructure had been done. Again, also a question regarding existing Figure 11. Existence of evaluations of infrastructure, documented or not. documentation was asked. The result is presented in Figure 11. For the cases when evaluations had been made, the dates were in the last 4- year period.
14 14 Sources of information Channels for communication of the infrastructures range from annual reports to lab tours, and the most common channel turned out to be web sites. Figure 12 shows the distribution of channels for information distribution. Figure 12. Distribution of various channels of communication for the infrastructures.
15 15 Summary of deep survey This survey posed six different questions, to be answered by elaborating ideas and viewpoints rather than ticking boxes as in Survey 1. In addition, it asked for viewpoints and suggestions on related issues not specifically addressed. The survey was distributed to 32 individuals who had been identified as likely to be interested and willing to articulate their views on research infrastructure issues. The six questions were the following. 1. Given the fact that the Universities will need to assume a larger responsibility for infrastructure in the future, what are your views on how financing should be done, e.g. with respect to level of economic responsibility and technique for allocation? 2. What is your view on a periodic reservation of faculty funding for infrastructure, to be used also to match external funding? 3. What are your suggestions for processes for making priorities within the University between different infrastructure proposals? 4. What are the appropriate measures for achieving higher degree of cooperation and sharing of infrastructure within Uppsala University? 5. Today there is a requirement of national significance to be eligible for external funding of infrastructure. What are the appropriate processes for coordination of proposals for new infrastructure with other Universities? 6. What are your suggestions for how a national coordination of the use of research infrastructure should be organized? The first question, about financing, was addressed by 31 of the individuals asked. There was a general consensus that the economic responsibility needs to be lifted to department and faculty level in order to manage investments and operation of sizeable research infrastructure. The long- term perspective associated with expensive infrastructure requires faculty or domain level responsibility. Suitable research infrastructure can strengthen current research and contribute to successful recruitment of excellent researchers and promising students. Not everyone supports the more central engagement, though, fearing sub- optimal investments and too much of charging individual groups. Several point out that one needs to build on the proximity and expertise that exists at department level, but at the same time acknowledge the need for decision power and economic responsibility present at the faculty and domain levels. Shared economic responsibility between department and faculty/domain is advocated by some in order to stimulate the bottom up element. The second question, about periodic reservations, was answered by 31 individuals. They almost unanimously answered by a positive statement that reservations should be made. It was pointed out that even for external funding there is usually a need for matching funds and to cover overhead costs to an extent. Also, there is a fear that external funding too much decides the research directions at the University. 30 individuals answered the third question, about prioritization processes. It gave rise to a broad spectrum of suggestions and ideas, including how to generate ideas
16 16 for new infrastructure. It was suggested by several that needs for new infrastructure should be gathered and formulated at department level, and when department level responsibility cannot cope, the wish list should be brought to a higher level, faculty, domain or even University level depending on the nature of the proposal. Departments and faculties should have long- term plans and strategies, and intermediate- term updates should be conducted, such as 5- year plans and every- year update. Prioritization could be made in a process where also incentive at departments in terms of co- financing is encouraged. It is suggested that annual calls be made, and also that external evaluations be conducted to aid the prioritization process. It is stressed that the processes employed should be transparent and well known to the researchers. Also, it is often pointed out that the process of taking an original idea or initiative through to a successful proposal should not be rushed, but usually needs to take some time, although instances when one has to seize the opportunity may occur. It is suggested that funding should be secured for the entire depreciation period, but evaluations should be conducted annually. Evaluations should include the aspect of success in offering services to a broad community. Also, the interaction and co- operation between different infrastructures is regarded positively. The fourth question concerned cooperation and sharing and 31 individuals answered it. Here it seemed that enforcing a central approach had quite a few advocates. Unnecessary duplication of equipment leading to inefficient use of funding was mentioned, and also the importance of communicating awareness and knowledge about existing facilities. Maintaining high level of competence and keeping infrastructure at a high level of performance was emphasized. This requires a well- defined and well- supported organization. Some argue that clear governance, sustainable steering tools, and defined roles of responsibility by faculty and University leadership is important. The fifth question concerned cooperation between Universities on joint infrastructure proposals, and 29 individuals answered it. A prerequisite for successful interaction with other Universities about new research infrastructure is to know what one s own priorities are. Therefore, it has to start with working out a plan for the needs and a strategy for how to meet these needs, in appropriate cases in cooperation with other Universities. Such discussions need to address questions of competition and profiling among the Universities, and also expert networks, as well as training and education. It was pointed out that the research secretaries may play a significant role, and participation in VR activities and networks should be kept up. Question six, about coordination of infrastructure use, was addressed by 28 individuals. The importance of defining a clear strategy was emphasized. Several existing infrastructures were mentioned as good examples of common use, e.g. SNIC, SciLifeLab, and MAX IV. Coordination between Universities on Dean level is suggested to be suitable. A comparison was made with the national process used when the professor promotion reform was introduced. Reference to VR was made in several cases. A regional perspective rather than, or along with the national one is mentioned to be worth considering. Different models could apply to different