Research Centres and Institutes

Queen’s Research Centres and Institutes (RCIs) are, and have been, the vehicle for many important research outcomes. Researchers from all disciplines and corners of the University recognize that RCIs can bring new meaning and opportunity to important research questions and be the vehicle through which research can be unburdened from traditional administrative structures. In addition, the research funding landscape is evolving, with greater emphasis on interdisciplinary research that is impactful, supports training and development, and is relevant in local and international contexts. RCIs are often well positioned to be successful in this context and pursue research questions related to global challenges and opportunities.

Research Centres and Institutes

View approved RCIs

A new Policy on the Establishment of Research Centres and Institutes (RCIs) and associated Procedures were adopted by the Senate in spring 2020. The Policy and Procedures guide the process for the establishment and renewal of RCIs via the Senate Advisory Research Committee (SARC), which recommends establishment and renewal to Senate.  

The two Procedures - Procedure for the Establishment, Categorization, Renewal and Dissolution of Research Centres and Institutes (Procedure A) and Procedure for the Administration of Research Centres and Institutes (Procedure B) -  assist in bringing a new robustness to the mechanisms deployed to ensure the operational vitality of RCIs.

The Policy and Procedures provides freedom for groups and collaborations to evolve, only becoming more formalized when such factors as size, scale, and complexity, make it appropriate. 

New Policy Highlights

The key changes in the new policy include the following:

  • eliminate the differentiation between the activities of institutes and centres (the names are used interchangeably or not at all).

  • provide clear criteria to assist SARC in its decision-making and move away from University or Faculty led as the determining factor for how RCIs are supported, structured, and operationalized.

  • reduce the administrative burden on RCIs and support a focus on leading-edge research.

  • separate the policy from procedures to create flexibility allowing SARC to evolve practices for assessing research centre activity, impact, and outcomes over time.

  • add an administrative procedure to be associated with the policy and approved by the administrative policies process.

  • ensure that upon the implementation of the revised policies and procedures, the structures are in place to enable the success of RCIs.

  • The reforms in the Policy, and associated Procedures, will allow Senate to exercise its governance responsibilities, while also providing a strong administrative foundation to ensure the success of these entities at various stages.

Important details when considering pursuing the establishment/renewal of an RCI:

Where to start?

  • Review the Policy and Procedures carefully.
  • Connect with the relevant Associate/Vice-Dean(s) Research early in the process of considering the establishment of an RCI.
  • Arrange a joint meeting between the Vice-Principal Research Portfolio and the relevant Associate/Vice-Dean(s) Research to discuss the proposed RCI, research objectives and operational considerations.
  • Review the templates to guide the development of the Research Plan and Operational Plan components of the application.

Why are RCIs organized by Tier 1, Tier 2 and Group?

  • To inform the governance and oversight of RCIs, SARC will recommend establishment, and renewal, of RCIs within three categories – Tier 1, Tier 2 and Group.
  • Rather than focusing on delineating RCIs by their names (i.e. a Centre is X and an Institute is Y) or by status as Faculty or University level under the old Policy, SARC adopted a categorization method that focused on key research indicators including research excellence, evidence of collaboration, training and development of highly qualified personnel, knowledge mobilization activity and alignment with Queen’s strategic plans.
  • It is not a requirement for prospective RCIs to indicate Tier level as part of the application, however, a preference can be offered.
  • Tier 1 represents the areas of highest strategic importance to the university research mission and may, when available, receive additional central institutional resources and support to deliver on its objectives.
  • A categorization guideline will be maintained by SARC as part of this Procedure, to be reviewed by SARC annually, and updated at a minimum of every three years.

How are RCIs funded and administered?

  • At this time, RCIs require a lead Faculty to support operations, administration and financial processes.
  • Multidisciplinary and multi-Faculty RCIs are strongly encouraged; current structures and oversight processes require a lead Faculty to be identified, although the lead can change over time.
  • The role of the Vice-Principal Research Portfolio is to ensure that RCIs when established are positioned for success, and that proper governance and oversight practices are in place.
  • The Vice-Principal Research Portfolio currently does not have funding to directly support RCI activity; proponents are encouraged to , pursue grant and research contract funding and seek support from Faculties.
  • A minimum 5-year budget plan is required; a strategy for a 10-year horizon is strongly encouraged.

The Vice-Principal Research Portfolio has been working with Faculties to support the transition to the new processes, and several RCIs are now fully within the new framework. The Portfolio will continue to work to support the remaining RCIs within Faculties that need to be formally reviewed for renewal, or a decision taken to disband. The renewal process will be completed by the end of the 2024/25 academic year, which includes review and approval by SARC and Senate, and ratification by the Board of Trustees.

Two foundational documents are required for the renewal process, a Research Plan to be approved by SARC/Senate (as outlined in Procedure A and associated template) and an Operational Plan approved by the Vice-Principal Research and the lead Dean (as outlined in Procedure B and associated template).  

Faculty Associate/Vice-Deans Research:

Vice-Principal Research Portfolio:

To streamline communications, RCIs should connect to the Vice-Principal Research Portfolio through their Associate-Dean Research and Faculty business officer. All questions should be directed to both of the following primary Vice-Principal Research contacts: