Second Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) workshop at Amsterdam UMC

On April 11th, the CATALISI Amsterdam UMC team organised a Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) event in Amsterdam. With over 70 attendees from various universities across Europe, the workshop aimed at sharing knowledge and ideas on improving the Responsible Conduct of Research and stimulating a positive research culture.

Hosted by the Amsterdam UMC project leader, Miriam van Loon, the day started with an inspiring presentation by Mariëtte van den Hoven on instruments and initiatives for stimulating a positive research culture. Then Krishma Labib elaborated on the SOP4sRI projected more specifically. Additionally, Nathalie Trifkovic, policymaker and scientific integrity coordinator at the Vrije Universiteit, presented on the research culture policy at the university.

After sharing our knowledge, during the co-creation sessions we explored participants’ thoughts and international perspectives on how to improve research culture. Participants were asked to develop a metaphor for explaining research culture. It was interesting to see how defining research culture sparked many different interpretations, ranging from comparing research culture to an ecosystem or a puzzle, to even comparing research culture with the weather in the Netherlands…

An interactive poster session on different topics related to responsible conduct of research further stimulated the further exchange of both existing expertise and new ideas.

The day ended with a closing lecture by emeritus professor Lex Bouter, providing renewing insights into the challenges of scientific misconduct, such as papermills.

Overall, feedback showed that participants found the workshop to be very informative and inspiring, making them (even more) motivated to further stimulate a positive research culture in their own institutions and throughout Europe.  

The need of effective communication and dissemination in European Projects

The European Commission defines communication as the act of informing, promoting, and communicating activities, while dissemination involves making knowledge and results publicly available free-of-charge. 

Communication, dissemination, and exploitation are not just abstract concepts but are mandated legal obligations under Article 17 of the Horizon Europe Grant Agreement. This requirement underscores the critical importance of ensuring that scientific knowledge and research findings are shared widely and made accessible to all.

But why is this obligation so crucial? 

Historically, the field of science has been perceived as elitist, furthermore, the use of complex scientific jargon have often acted as barriers, preventing broader access to information and perpetuating cycles of exclusion. In the past, science communication was characterised by a one-way exchange, where scholars gathered in exclusive circles to discuss advancements, and the complexity of one’s discourse was sometimes equated with intelligence.  

Scientific developments and challenges are often global, rapidly evolving, and uncertain. This landscape paves the way for pseudoscience and misinformation, posing significant challenges to the dissemination of accurate scientific knowledge. 

The digital revolution and the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed the communication of science with a growing recognition of the need for inclusive communication practices that engage diverse audiences and foster accessibility for all. 

It is crucial to make scientific information accessible to all. People should feel empowered and confident to engage with scientific information and feel competent enough to understand the knowledge. Promoting scientific literacy among the general public can empower individuals to critically evaluate information and distinguish between credible scientific sources and pseudoscience. Moreover, science communication should be tailored to the social context of different countries, empowering citizens to navigate scientific knowledge independently. 

To address the communication crisis, scientists must actively engage in public discourse and collaborate with communication professionals. Collaborating with media outlets, educational institutions, and community organisations can amplify the reach of accurate scientific information and foster a culture of science engagement. 

Open science principles, including making research freely available and fostering accurate and accountable scientific communities, are essential. 

 

The CATALISI project serves as a bridge connecting the realms of research and innovation with the broader public sphere. Through its commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, and alignment with market demands, CATALISI not only advances scientific endeavors but also ensures that the benefits of research reach the wider community.  

By fostering collaborative partnerships and innovative communication strategies, CATALISI facilitates the dissemination of accurate scientific information to the public, thereby bridging the gap between scientific developments and societal needs. In an era where effective communication is paramount, CATALISI’s efforts contribute to building public trust in science and promoting informed decision-making. Furthermore, by empowering diverse stakeholders to actively engage in the research process, CATALISI paves the way for a more inclusive and impactful approach to research and innovation. 

 

Further read:

Reimagining Higher Education Research Financing -A Living Lab Approach

The horizon has changed, higher education research is experiencing intense new demands and priorities to act upon and contribute to global transformation processes such as the green and digital transition. While operating in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment, they must also strategically experiment with new forms of international collaboration, such as European University Alliances. These trends are affecting all dimensions of university life, but in particular their funding context, suggesting a need for innovative approaches and begging the following questions: Is innovation in HEI research funding possible? How can HEI funding adapt to the rapidly evolving globalising context HEI’s find themselves in? What implications do changes in the funding landscape have on governance and leadership? What is the capacity of universities themselves to think ahead and develop financial strategies? Which investment priorities are needed to future-proof activities? 

University College Cork (UCC), a partner in the EU Horizon Europe CATALISI[1] initiative, aims to reinject some re-imagination into this discussion and outline possible future paths for university research finances. A Living Lab at University College Cork is focusing on a cross-cutting target intervention area under the working title ‘Financial Sustainability for Research & Innovation’. In line with the Living Lab methodology embraced by CATALISI, a transformation approach has been adopted, prioritising participatory and iterative co-creation actions with stakeholders including university staff and students and external partners.


[1] The primary goal of the CATALISI project is to support seven Higher Education Institutions (so-called ‘Implementers’) in successfully implementing a strategy and individual pathway for Institutional transformation. CATALISI Higher Education Institutions (Implementers) are located in seven European countries, more specifically: Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – AUTH), Lithuania (Kaunas University of Technology – KTU), Ireland (University College Cork – UCC), Poland (University of Gdańsk – UG), Spain (Jaume I University – UJI), Italy (Luiss Guido Carli University – LUISS), and Netherlands (Amsterdam University Medical Center – AUMC).

 

The CATALISI model focuses on three main domains for institutional transformation (Research careers and talent support, Open science and public engagement, and Sustainable research and education) composed by different intervention areas and intersected by seven targeted and innovative acceleration services (Living Labs, Design Lab for transformational pathway, and Counselling, Reinforce Human Capital; Predictive study on skills anticipation; Marketplace; Community of practice (CoP)). These are designed to facilitate and catalyse institutional transformations in the field of Research and Innovation which will strengthen HEI’s collaborations and alliances as lighthouses of European values.

While framing its Living Lab and the intervention area it is targeting, UCC recognised that financial sustainability is an integral and requisite part of realising sustainability in broader terms and within the context of a research and innovation ecosystem that interacts at local, regional, national, and international levels. Institutionally UCC is committed to continually strengthening its research and academic excellence. This intervention area is therefore strongly aligned to the university institutional strategy, leadership commitment and ambition around UCC’s Research and Innovation agenda. This is articulated under Goal 1 of the UCC Strategic Plan 2023-2028 which sets out to ‘deliver impactful research and innovation that addresses global grand challenges in signature areas of excellence’.

The role of the UCC Living Lab is to collaboratively engage with stakeholders to explore the current state of affairs and to co-design, develop and pilot new models and practices, thus accelerating transformation, a key goal of CATALISI, towards a more financially sustainable research and innovation ecosystem. The Living Lab approach to collaboratively examine and plan for financial sustainability is particularly relevant to the institution considering the complexity and scale of the issues to be addressed. Participants in the Living Lab have highlighted the following issues:

Firstly, in Ireland, there is a relatively low level of Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD), one of the lowest investment in R&I of OECD countries. In addition, a high proportion of total research income to UCC comes from a small number of large-scale research centres, with an over reliance on one single state funding agency, presenting a need for more balance to ameliorate risk.

Research income for the most part, solely covers direct research project costs. In many cases, the small institutional overhead provided (indirect costs) by a research grant does not sufficiently support the full cost to the institution of supporting a funded research project. For example, additional needs include support from staff in the research office, finance office, legal office, human resources department, Library, and many other support services over the lifetime of the grant.

As there is no mechanism currently for retaining overhead institutionally to invest in strategic initiatives or capacity building initiatives, an enhanced strategic model of income allocation is required for longer term financial sustainability, as without the ability to invest strategically, the institution is compromised.

For example, increasingly UCC, as a local regional institution, is experiencing issues related to brain drain, talent retention and attraction. It needs to unlock mechanisms to better retain, attract and sustain a pipeline of research talent. This requires identifying and unlocking financial mechanisms that enable institutional development in this area.

In addition, staff have identified Pre and Post Award grant support as an issue for researchers outside of research centres. Staff have identified a range of support needs for College and School based researchers, in particular – grants involving complex community partnerships (co-hiring, co-financing, co-researching etc.) which require deeper research supports than are currently available. UCC’s research and innovation context is also one of rapid pace of change with respect to Open Science. Currently, there is an ad-hoc fragmented approach to Open Science because of financial constraints with regard to planning for future needs.

Secondly, UCC Living Lab stakeholders are concerned about a context where research priorities are increasingly set by external funding agencies, with a narrowing of research topics and a need for greater diversity and more institutionally determined topics. With regard to institutional autonomy, UCC finds itself relatively constrained regarding its ability to fund and support an institutionally determined and driven research agenda – within a wider context of a funding policy and culture determined nationally and at European level.

In addition, Funders are also increasingly encouraging societal engagement as an aspect of research proposals, but without consideration of the collaborative design, planning and ongoing partnership over many years needed with external partners to enable meaningful and impactful research. Systems and supports are needed to realise truly transformative rather than transactional relationships between higher education and society. In this regard, there is currently a disconnect between university research systems, societal actors, funding instruments, policymakers and the public, presenting a need and opportunity for advocacy to funding bodies and policymakers to address these issues.

With the launch of CATALISI’s acceleration service, a Living Lab, UCC finds itself more equippedto identify the issues and progress innovation towards the ‘Financial Sustainability of Research & Innovation’. Its capacity to think strategically and to also think ahead as an organization has been enhanced through identifying and partnering with its stakeholders, internally and externally. We are now positioned to gather valuable insights into the local context, barriers, and the framework conditions that impact our potential for institutional transformation. The involvement of quadruple helix stakeholders – Academia, Business, Public Administration, and Civil Society – has added a mosaic of perspectives, needs, and expectations to our thinking. Our determination now is to progress action plans, informed by our stakeholders, and indeed with our stakeholders, ultimately accelerate and drive an effective transformation.

Improving Research Careers: Insights from the Third CATALISI Webinar

As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance research and innovation in universities and support the career development of students and professionals, the CATALISI project hosted its third webinar titled “Recognition of Qualifications in Research Careers: Skills in Research and Beyond.” This webinar is part of a series aimed at bolstering research departments and careers.

One of the key initiatives of the CATALISI project is the creation of a free repository of resources to assist universities and individuals in accessing training materials. These resources are designed to empower participants to enhance their reseach skills at their own pace and convenience.

All materials, including recordings of past webinars, are readily available on the CATALISI website: The Learning Hub.

In our latest webinar, we were privileged to have two distinguished speakers share their expertise with us. Erica Feliziani, Research Advisor at the University of Macerata, delved into the essential skills and training required for European research managers, drawing insights from the CARDEA project.

Surveys conducted as part of this project underscored the importance of a diverse skill set, with a particular emphasis on soft skills. Furthermore, there was a notable gap in perceived training opportunities, indicating a preference for practical and flexible training approaches.

In response to these findings, CATALISI is actively developing flexible and practical training programs tailored to the needs identified in the surveys. We invite all stakeholders to participate in shaping these initiatives and driving positive change in research management.

 

Our second speaker, Rrap Kryeziu, a senior consultant at EY, shed light on a predictive study focusing on the soft skills researchers will need to thrive in the labor market. Through interviews with over 45 vice-rectors, deans, and 1700 PhD students across Europe, valuable insights were gathered. The survey results, reflecting self-assessment scores by PhD students on various research competencies, identified areas where improvement is desired.

This predictive study will be a valuable addition to CATALISI’s deliverables and will be accessible to everyone after the summer. We encourage all stakeholders to stay tuned for further insights into the labor market and research competencies.

By collaborating and leveraging our collective expertise, we can foster a more dynamic and resilient research ecosystem, ultimately driving innovation and societal impact. Together, let’s shape the future of research and innovation.

CATALISI second Webinar “Mainstreaming of Open Science and Digitization of Research”.

The second Webinar was hosted by EY on February 8th: Mainstreaming of Open Science and Digitization of Research”.

The objectives of the webinar include:
🔹 Sharing best practices and research findings on Open Science
🔹 Fostering dialogues and collaboration among experts in this sector
🔹 Identifying Multilingualism as a Catalyst for Open Science

We had the pleasure to count on two incredible speakers:
Tycho Hofstra is a data steward at the University Library of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He Provided good information on open science can become a chore for both researcher and data professional, but doesn’t have to be. Perhaps we can sneak in some fun to make the principles and good practices stick better? In this talk, we’ll look at some of the challenges in getting researchers to talk and think about open science and the ways Dutch university libraries try to break the ice.

Johanna Havemann,Dr. is a trainer and consultant in Open Scholarly Communication Research Project Management. She is also the co-founder and lead coordinator at AfricArXiv – the publishing platform to increase the discoverability of African research accomplishments. With a focus on digital tools for science and her label Access 2 Perspectives, she aims to strengthen globally inclusive science communication and research management through the adoption of Open Science practices. Her speech focused on how to analyzation and encourage a different approach to Open Science through multilingualism.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to listen to the recording in the Learning Hub: https://lnkd.in/dUXaahkb

Mobilisation and Mutual Learning event at UJI

The 19th of January 2024 took place the “Mobilisation and Mutual Learning event: advancing towards Responsible Research Practices in UJI” at Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain.

The meeting was organised by UJI CATALISI members Ramón Feenstra, Laura Bernal, Carlota Carretero, and Elsa Gonzalez and it was attended by CATALISI members from APRE, UCC, UG, KTU, AUTH, AUMC, LUISS and also by some UJI researchers and technical staff. The goals of this event were, on the one hand, to explain the work that has been done at UJI regarding responsible research practices and research integrity and also present inspiring initiatives from other universities. On the other hand, discuss with the participants the ways in which UJI can promote a scale of indicators to measure performance on Open Access (OA) and also how to boost the involvement of UJI’s ethics committee with researchers.

On the first part of the event, three speakers shared their experience improving research assessment and research ethics structures in Spanish universities. First, Margarita Vergara (adjunct Vice-rector of Research at UJI) explained the work done at UJI regarding the transformation of research assessment criteria and also the upcoming challenges. Second, Elsa González Esteban (Vice-rector of Social Policies and CATALISI member) shared the work done in the framework of the ETHNA System project, where a set of tools for RRI were developed: an ethical code, an ethics committee, an ethical hotline and process indicators to report. Last, Alberto Pastor, from Miguel Hernández University (UMH), explained their experience implementing IRIU, a system to measure researchers’ adherence to the UMH guidelines for responsibility in research and also with the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the second part of the event, there was a co-creation session with the rest of the participants dedicated to advancing in the development of research ethics tools. During this session, moderated by Ramón Feenstra and Laura Bernal, CATALISI members and also UJI researchers and technical staff discussed the potential and also the obstacles for the implementation of a scale to measure researchers’ performance on OA and how to improve the work of the UJI ethics committee. Regarding the first topic, some questions such as the need for economic support, the need for a cultural change, making mandatory for projects with public funding to publish in OA or the promotion of role models and PhD teaming in spreading good practices in OA were brought up. Regarding the work of the ethics committee, it was suggested to implement fines or a system for reporting people who violate research integrity or to create a platform for complaints. Also, it was considered helpful for researchers to be able to see the state of the process of going through the ethics committee.

Finally, it is worth noting that, during this event, plenty of interesting ideas, reflections and discussions regarding the current state and the future of research ethics and research assessment came out. It also served to share the current state of this topic in the Spanish context and to suggest specific tools for improving its development.

 

“This event was very fruitful for reflecting about the creation of specific tools for the promotion of research ethics at UJI”
Ramon Feenstra
Associate professor at Jaume I University

CATALISI General Assembly at UJI

On January 18th, the Consortium gathered in Castellón, Spain for the CATALISI first General Assembly bringing inspirational ideas and fruitful discussions!

The meeting  was a great opportunity for the partners to share the achievements of the first year and exchange ideas on the next steps to be taken in the upcoming months.  Amongst the results achieved,  it is worth mentioning: the realization of the  Learning Hub, a digital space for exchanging webinars on topics related to Research & Innovation, the CATALYST Hub, dedicated to the mapping of relevant funding opportunities tailored to higher education institutions, and finally the Community of Practice, a group of people with 116 members from 20 European countries who share expertise and experience in institutional transformation in HEIs.

The General Assembly was even an opportunity for the Higher Education Institutions partners to exchange amongst peers the individual pathway  towards their own institutional transformation, given their specific contexts and challenges. The open discussion allowed to share several ideas on how to accelerate this institutional transformation in the field of Research and Innovation (R&I).

This General Assembly marked a crucial step in the identification of the key actions to be undertaken in 2024 thanks to different co-creation workshops facilitated by ENoLL, AUTH, APRE and F6S. The first co-creation workshop facilitated by APRE “Matchmaking and sharing of expertise from MML and Twinning”, aimed at advancing towards the organization of the Twinning exchanges, that HEIs are expected to perform during the next two years. In order to do so, participants, through a peer-to-peer exchange, validated the results emerged from the Matchmaking analysis and put forward the final proposals for the Twinning activities. Each HEI will visit at least three other HEIs through onsite exchanges, to learn about best practices and take advantage from the expertise provided by the host institution in the intervention areas where they need more support.

APRE also facilitated the workshop on “CoP future perspectives” with the aim to gather feedback and discuss with partners about the ways to best engage and animate the members of the Community of practice for the benefits of the project. Several ideas emerged related to the organization and topic for the next MML online workshop with the CoP, as well as interesting ideas on how to involve the CoP members more actively in CATALISI activities such as including some of them as mentors, coaches or in dissemination activities and in onsite workshops.

 

First CATALISI webinar: Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education

First webinar held on November 23, 2023

The Webinar on Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education aimed to achieve several key goals, including the dissemination of best practices and research findings in the realm of gender and inclusion within higher education. 

Additionally, the webinar sought to pinpoint actionable strategies to advance gender equality and promote inclusion within the higher education landscape. The success of the event can be attributed to the insightful contributions of two distinguished speakers who are experts in the field of Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education. Namely:

Sabina Pellizzoni a technologist at INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics), and she is the coordinator Gender Mentoring programme INFN: the first gender mentoring in an Italian research institution. Sabina is an INFN Team member for GENERA Network and she is external expert of the GETA Observatory CNR IRPPS: for updating and analysing data and monitoring gender balance issues.

Magdalena Zadkowska an Assistant professor in Sociology Institute at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gdańsk, Principal Investigator, Academic Teacher, Expert, focused on women and men carriers in STEM, diversity management, intimate relations and gender studies. Cooperates in international research projects with Norway, USA, Canada, UK, Italy, Romania, Chile and France.

Their diverse backgrounds in physics and sociology brought a multifaceted perspective to the topic, enriching the discussions. Notably, the speakers presented best practices in advancing gender equality and fostering inclusion om higher education contexts, providing valuable insights for the audience. The engaged audience demonstrated a profound interest in the subject matter, creating a dynamic space for mutual learning. This collaborative environment facilitated the exchange of research results, personal insights, and backgrounds, ultimately strengthening cooperation among European universities and institutions.

Check out the Learning Hub for materials and recordings of all upcoming workshops!

In case you missed the first wbinar, you can watch the recording also here:

First CoP Workshop: A Leap Towards Transformative Research and Innovation

First CoP workshop held on November 7, 2023

The aim of the first CoP Mobilization and Mutual Learning (MML) workshop was to share key insights from previous EU-funded projects and successful experiences on institutional transformation in Research and Innovation that can be of inspiration to the Community of Practice. This also contributed to accelerating the transformation of universities in different areas of intervention.

After an insightful introduction on the CATALSI policy context by Stijn Delaure, from DG RTD, the four speakers illustrated their projects, stories and experiences followed by an engaging session of questions and answers. . The contribution of three H2020-funded project representatives (TIMES4SC, GRACE, Co-Change) was enormously beneficial to share with participants processes and challenges linked to institutional transformation implementation. The event was opened and closed by the coordinator of CATALISI, APRE.  

In the words of Laura Mentini, the workshop was proven to be successful in gathering a wide pool of experts and professionals in the field of institutional transformation of higher Education Institutions around the priorities of the European Research Agenda. 

The variety of participants attending the event, the engaging presentations and questions from the audience illustrates the profound interest on the topic as well as the urgent need to continue creating mutual learning spaces to share tools, advice and knowledge on how to promote and consolidate Research and Innovation transformations at university level as well as strengthening European Universities collaborations and alliances.
Laura Mentini
Project Manager, APRE

Our event speakers were:

Stijn Delaure, Policy Officer, ERA, Spreading Excellence, Research Careers DG for Research and Innovation – European Commission, Belgium; responsible for policy development in support of higher education sector, research management and research careers, in the context of the new European Research Area (ERA). 

Eugenia Vilarchao, Science Officer, Inclusive Science cluster, European Science Foundation; works on EC-funded projects with a primary focus on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) such as SUPPORTER and TIME4CS, where her expertise centres on Gender Equality, Citizen Science, and Public Engagement. She also significantly contributes to integrating RRI principles into various research projects (RESIST, ENFIELD, MOBI-TWIN). In the frame of the GRACE-RRI project, she was part of the coordination team and lead the implementation of Institutional Changes on RRI within the ESF. 

Ciro Franco, Head of National Research Support Office and Coordinator of HRS4R Management Committee at Sapienza Università di Roma. The National Research Support Office promotes the participation of Sapienza researchers to research funding opportunities at national and regional level, including PNRR funds. He has a long experience as expert and vice-chair within evaluation panels for R&I projects in the context of Horizon funding programme. 

Mila Grahovac, Associate Professor, University of Novi Sad; an associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad. Although her main field of expertise is phytopathology and biological and other alternative tools for plant disease management, from 2018 she is actively involved in RRI, particularly in gender equality and public engagement in RPO. She is working on integrating GE and PE at institutional level at Faculty of Agriculture and she was leader of the RRIzing lab in the Horizon 2020 project Co-Change.  

Claudia Iasillo, Project Manager, APRE focusing on science and society relationship. She has been involved in several EU funded projects (e.g. RURITAGE, SISCODE, QUEST, FETFX, HOLiFOOD) and she is coordinating the H2020 project TIME4CS and the HE project BlueRev.   

Next action steps:  

The Community of Practice members will be involved in the CATALISI project activities and events at both national and European level, according to their geographical focus and expertise, to continue sharing their methods, tools and stories.  An online platform has been created to stimulate participants in common discussions. The second MML online event will be organized by APRE for the Community of Practice members, and further details will be shared soon. 

Learn more about joining the Community of Practice on our dedicated page and check out the Learning Hub for materials and recordings of all upcoming workshops!

In case you missed the first CoP, you can watch the recording also here:

First CATALISI Community of Practice (CoP) workshop!

Institutional changes are needed to reform the most important priorities and challenges for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) regarding institutional transformations towards the future.

With this in mind, the CATALISI supports seven European HEIs to pursue institutional transformation by intervening in specific domains through the adoption of targeted acceleration services. The CATALISI Community of Practice (CoP) is one of the acceleration services provided within the project. The CoP is composed of a group of people who share common interests, valuable expertise and experience in institutional transformation in HEIs, and that can feed the project activities with relevant expertise, methods, stories, tools, for the transformation of Higher Education Institution’s governance.

First CoP workshop will be held on November 7, 2023 (15:00-17:00 CET). The aim of this first CoP workshop is to share knowledge and experience between professionals and experts of the field of institutional transformation with the objective to: 

1) build collective knowledge around the topic of institutional transformation of HEIs in shared domains of interest 

2) provide advice, guidance and new ideas to CATALISI Higher Education Institutions, ultimately contributing to the acceleration of transformation in the governance of HEIs in different areas of intervention.


Selected speakers will focus on sharing their experiences and inspirational stories in institutional transformations of HEIs, by focusing on the following aspects:

  • Introduction to their project and domain of intervention
  • Good practices, approaches and strategies adopted to achieve institutional transformations in the R&I area
  • Obstacles and challenges faced to achieve transformative actions, how were these solved?
  • Recommendations to HEIs when facing institutional transformations.

Interested to join the first Community of Practice workshop? 
Sign up here!