Research policy and quality support

Research is the motor of Ghent University. Boundaries are pushed. Researchers make discoveries. These discoveries impact people worldwide, give new impulses to teaching, and provide a foundation for a knowledge society.

Over the course of its 200 year history Ghent University has built up a strong scientific reputation. Ghent University invests both in fundamental, high risk science as in applied research. The university is known for its scientific expertise in life sciences and medicine, materials and agricultural science, veterinary medicine, psychology and history, and many more.  This university does not just offer a place to singular research strengths but also encourages multidisciplinary collaboration.

Our top research is built on a solid base: as a result of a bottom-up research policy young researchers are given every opportunity to grow. A deeply rooted quality culture guarantees continuous rejuvenation of research.

Thanks to the excellent performance of its entire research community, for the last ten years Ghent University has been part of the Shanghai Ranking's top 100 - a worldwide ranking primarily based on research indicators.

Basic research strategy: Research Policy Plan

Ghent University’s ambitions regarding the 2017-2021 Policy Plan can be grouped into six major objectives:

  1. The BOF’s funding channel contributes to the quality and impact of research at Ghent University
  2. The organization and structure of research at Ghent University is workable, efficient and effective
  3. The research policy plan is embedded in Ghent University’s internationalization ambitions
  4. Ghent University’s HR policy backs, stimulates and inspires research
  5. The quality of the research is continuously supported and monitored regularly, taking into account the differentiation between disciplines, the career development of young and more experienced researchers, and the intended impact of the research
  6. Ghent University identifies the obstacles that impede the implementation of its research policy plan and undertakes appropriate action as and when required

Principles of evaluation

Ghent University encourages its researchers to develop their full potential and to aim high. Early-stage researchers receive support and guidance from their supervisor, their colleagues and their P.I. but also established researchers are provided with academic development opportunities and with practical tools to promote a quality culture within their research environment.

At regular instances Ghent University monitors whether the expected levels of ambition are met. Publications and publication impact, as measured through bibliometric tools, play an important role in this, but peer review methods are equally important. Research evaluations, however, also serve other purposes than quality control. In order to promote appropriate evaluation methodologies for a wide range of evaluation purposes Ghent University has developed its own principles for the evaluation of research.

Human capital: HR Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R)

HR Excellence in Research

As a caring and engaged employer Ghent University promotes a talent-driven HR policy. Specific challenges in this are the improvement of the quality of the scientific career and the provision of new career opportunities.

Ghent University is a signatory of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. This endorsement is further strengthened by an integrated HR Strategy (HRS4R) which stipulates several actions around five main topics:

  1. Recruitment and assessment
  2. Career perspectives
  3. Employment conditions and social security
  4. Training and development
  5. Ethical and professional aspects

In 2014 the European Commission awarded Ghent University the HR Excellence in Research label.

Support of doctoral researchers

Five Doctoral Schools are important partners in the support of doctoral researchers at Ghent University. They offer an extensive array of training courses. their three-fold mission is:

  • to increase the international and social value of the doctorate (both for the academic and non-academic labour market)
  • to enhance the support of doctoral researchers during their research process
  • to strengthen the quality culture in (doctoral) research

Ghent University’s Quality framework for doctoral education ensures quality assurance from the entry point to the completion of the doctoral process. It is a guiding tool composed of 10 building blocks that remain the framework for further plans, actions, evaluations and improvements of the doctoral process.

Support of postdocs

Postdoc community logo

The Postdoc Talent Management focuses on the career perspectives of postdoctoral researchers. Ghent University creates awareness with postdoc researchers of all fields of science about their career and offers a wide array of tailor-made professional development activities. 

Ghent University not just looks towards an easy transition from postdoc to professor but also invests in creating pathways to non-academic careers.

The Ghent University Postdoc Community provides the interfaculty network for all postdoc researchers.

Publication policy

Logo Open Access BelgiumResearch must be shared. In addition to this, scientific articles have become the exponents of academic excellence.

  • Ghent University encourages its researchers to publish their scientific results through high-quality media.
  • Ghent University urges its researchers to publish their results as open access articles.
  • All publications of researchers which have appeared during their tenure at Ghent University are electronically recorded in the institutional Academic Bibliography.

Researchers at Ghent University are expected to create an ORCID-id and connect it to Ghent University as their main affiliation.

Integrity and ethics in research

Strong scientific results are a consequence of a quality-driven process. Many stakeholders depend on science for objective evidence and nuanced interpretations. Also, scientific research expects ethical behaviour in all circumstances.

Ghent University has developed several devices (both policy and targeted activities) to stimulate integrity and ethics in research:

  • Ghent University sets great store by adopting a preventive two-track policy aimed at encouraging ‘Good Research Practices’
  • A repressive trajectory as an ultimum remedium. (Commission for Scientific Integrity)
  • Data management policy stipulating all actions needed to make research data discoverable, accessible and understandable in the long term.
  • A comprehensive, modular Information Security Policy

Ghent University expects its researchers to adopt an ethically correct attitude:  they should not avoid questions about the progress of knowledge or technology, should adopt a critical stance towards their own research, and respect (international) legislation and policy.

  • International legislation regarding the Nagoya Protocol (NP) and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Regulations which provide a transparant legal framework for fair use and scharing of the benefits resulting from the use of genetic material
  • Statement on research for military purposes: Ghent University took the decision that its researchers or third parties which occupy its buildings are not allowed to collaborate in the development of technology which is exclusively aimed at military purposes. Dual use research cannot be excluded a priori since results may also serve civil benefit.

A number of ethical commissions within and without Ghent University watch over the ethical, responsible, sustainable, and efficient nature of research.

Value creation: research with impact

High quality research does not merely have a scientific/academic impact. Knowledge which is developed at the university must also find its way into society at large. Through value creation of research, be it financially, economically, socially or culturally, academic knowledge provides an added value to society.

European research and innovation policy

The European Research Area focuses on six policy action lines: national research systems, joint programming, Open Labour Market, gender, Open Science and international collaboration. Ghent University tracks developments in all these areas. For some we take an active part in advising the European Commission and shaping European policy by participating in working groups.

Besides being part of working groups, Ghent University also leaves its mark on European research and innovation policy by partnering with policy staff of the European Commission and of the Permanent Representation of Belgium towards the European Union, and with MEPs. If relevant Ghent University also drafts position papers.

Recent position papers of (or with major contribution of) Ghent University: