Priority one: Excellence

We will enable and actively promote a culture of research excellence across our University community, delivering internationally recognised outputs, supported by sector-leading research income and facilities.

Researcher's hand holding a petri dish to the light

How we define excellence

At the University of Sheffield, we value originality, rigour, integrity, and openness in our research, as well as the high quality outputs and outcomes that result from it. Research outputs and outcomes of the highest quality and significance are the bedrock of our academic reputation. We will assess the excellence of individual researchers, research entities and the institution through reference to these outputs, and to ambitious research collaborations, rigour and integrity of the research process, generous support for the research careers of others and a collegial and inclusive approach to the diverse contributions of colleagues at all stages of their careers.

Regardless of discipline, we value, support and reward research processes that are collegiate and ambitious, as well as deliver a diversity of world-leading outputs and outcomes that are based upon quality not quantity, in line with our adoption of DORA

Our excellence will be founded upon a set of appropriate behaviours that emphasise quality and integrity and contribute to a vibrant research culture which encourages shared ambition and recognises that both lone scholarship and team-based research have a role to play in achieving our goals. This will be underpinned by generous, inclusive research leadership that drives excellence through placing strong emphasis on equality and diversity and nurturing the development of future generations of research leaders.

Examples of the desired aspects of research processes and the outputs and outcomes which deliver and recognise excellence include:

Research processes

  • Support for career success at all stages, through mentoring, peer review and related processes, linked to clear, honest staff review and development conversations that set the bar for collective ambition.
  • A shared willingness to develop ambitious, excellent and original research ideas that risk failure at the application stage but offer significant reward if successful. Learning from these failures in order to fail well.
  • A recognition of the competitive nature of academic success and the need to develop an approach of creative competition that seeks to mitigate inherent inequities in the funding system to help all researchers, irrespective of characteristics such as gender and ethnicity, to have the chance to succeed.
  • The use of open research practices.
  • The use of team approaches to achieving research excellence, where appropriate, and the recognition of individual contributions to this.
  • High quality internal peer review processes that constructively encourage and support excellence without hampering ambition.

Outputs and outcomes, and evidence for their quality

  • Research that is significant, impactful and world changing at local, regional, national and global levels, increasing Sheffield’s intellectual contribution to the sector, enhancing our reputation and standing, and making a societal difference.
  • High quality individual outputs judged by peer review or citation, for example 4* outputs.
  • Research that is world leading when benchmarked against our external peers.
  • Markers of external recognition including learned society fellowships and awards.
  • Research that generates external research income, attracts a diverse high quality community of postgraduate research students and external fellows.
  • Research that uses open research practices, is ethical, of high integrity and relevant to a diverse range of stakeholders.

Read about our commitment to support the career development of our researchers via the Researcher Development Concordat and about our commitment to open research.

To achieve excellence we will:

  • Drive forward our distinctive and high-quality research capability to ensure we are well positioned to exploit emerging and future research opportunities. We will capitalise on our disciplinary excellence and foster novel ways of working across disciplines.
  • Develop outstanding research environments that deliver fundamental discoveries, and, in collaboration with our knowledge exchange and innovation activity, enable demonstrable research impact.
  • Identify areas of potential and invest in them, and in their research leadership and facilities. For areas where we can improve, we will put in place the support required to achieve our ambitions.
  • Build world-leading research centres and institutes by targeting resources in areas of real strength and future opportunity.
  • Develop strategic partnerships with other institutions that add value and are aligned to our areas of research strength. We will focus on regional, national and global partnerships where our research expertise will support new funding opportunities, influence the research agenda and deliver impact.
  • Confidently champion our areas of research strength and promote them internally and externally, informing our curriculum and enhancing our reputation for research excellence.
  • Create an open research culture that values a range of contributions and delivers the highest standards and best practice in research integrity and ethics. We will adhere to the FAIR principles to the benefit of society (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).
  • Provide the research expertise, facilities and environment that will make us an attractive institution for early career researchers and independent fellows. As signatories of the Researcher Development Concordat, we will commit to mentoring, supporting and training the research leaders of the future.

Our vision

We are the University of Sheffield. And this is our vision.