Research and knowledge exchange



Clarity of the responsibilities of an investigator is important, and is necessary to support the decisions of a HoD/S about suitability for being an investigator.  The responsibilities of an investigator, which may not all apply to all projects, given their nature, include:

i) Research Leadership and Quality

The creation of an environment in which high quality research is undertaken, in a collegiate and supportive fashion.  The provision of suitable direction to enable productive research, along with controls to ensure quality.

ii) Management of Project Staff

The recruitment and development of members of the team (employees and students), and their direction and supervision in delivering against research targets.  Management of partners and collaborators against agreed plans.  Supervision and successful completion of thesis.

iii) Financial Management

Appropriate use of resources within the terms of the funding agreement and within the University’s policies and procedures.

iv) Health and Safety

Ensuring an environment in which the risks to staff and participants have been assessed and are appropriately managed.

v) Reporting, Dissemination and Publication

Providing appropriate reports on progress to the funder and others as required.  Ensuring results are suitably disseminated, exploited, and published.

vi) Research Governance

Ensuring good research practice, and adherence to any relevant legislation, regulation, or policies.

vii) Contractual and Project Management

Recognising and meeting the contractual obligations of the funding.  Ensuring that the project is undertaken in a timely fashion, against an agreed plan.

In some of these areas, there is a balance of responsibility between the investigator and their HoD/S.  For collaborative bids with a number of named Sussex PI’s,  one of these will be identified as the lead PI at Sussex with overall responsibility for co-ordinating internal and external communications and effective project management.

Professional Support Staff

The list of investigator responsibilities indicates the breadth of those responsibilities.  As such, investigators need support in delivering these responsibilities, in particular where someone has numbers of projects, or a project is large and complex.  The areas in which support might be delivered are:

i) Administrative

  • Ensuring proposal meets funder’s requirements
  • Liaising with, and co-ordination of, partners
  • Supporting team meetings, partner meetings, and meetings with funders / customers
  • Publicity and marketing

ii) Financial

  • Costing and pricing of proposal
  • Procurement
  • Charging of costs to appropriate accounts
  • Provision of relevant statements and alerting to over- / under-spends
  • Support of audit processes

iii) Staffing

  • Administering the appointment processes
  • Ensuring induction and performance and development review processes are undertaken
  • Maintaining a training plan

iv) Environment

  • Ensuring working environment meets relevant health and safety procedures
  • Support of equipment, etc.

v) Reporting

  • Provision of material for reports and presentations
  • Ensuring reports meet funder requirements

vi) Commercial

  • Contract development and negotiation
  • Assistance in making proposals commercially relevant
  • Identification of results that can be protected
  • Identification and support of potential exploitation routes

vii) Project Management

  • Maintaining a project plan
  • Providing alerts for required actions
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Liaison with funders / customers
  • Support of forward planning

The delivery of these types of support can take a number of forms, but are particularly in the form of people and systems that can be organised on a centralised, localised, or mixed basis.  The most productive arrangement is to have common systems used by a mixed displacement of staff.

Staff undertaking this support will include those in central offices (e.g. HR, R&E, EFM, and Finance), those in school positions (e.g. R&E Co-ordinators and others in generic roles), and those in positions dedicated to specific projects.  Staff in support roles might be in administrative, clerical, or technical positions.  Achieving a suitable balance is important, recognising the need for dedicated resource to be built explicitly into the budgets of some projects.