We provide a liberal environment where independence of thought is highly valued and where all are encouraged to achieve their full potential. We will:

Research for Impact

Our strategy will continue to focus on developing interdisciplinary research and scholarship of international significance

B6.1 Trinity Research Directions

In the period 2014–19, we will build and enhance Trinity’s deep disciplinary knowledge, recognizing it as the crucial attribute of a university of global consequence and an essential foundation for launching interdisciplinary initiatives. Our strategy will continue to focus on developing interdisciplinary research and scholarship of international significance. Trinity will maximize its research impact and enhance Ireland’s global reputation as a location for knowledge creation.

In the 2011–14 period, interdisciplinary research has been organized into 21 research themes as follows: Ageing; Cancer; Creative Arts Practice; Creative Technologies; Digital Humanities; Genes and Society; Identities in Transformation; Immunology, Inflammation and Infection; Inclusive Society; Intelligent Content and Communications; International Development; International Integration; Making Ireland; Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures; Mathematics of Complexity; Nanoscience and Materials; Neuroscience; Next Generation Medical Devices; Smart and Sustainable Cities; Sustainable Environment; and Telecommunications.

At the highest level, these research themes are conceptualized as addressing seven research directions of:

  • health
  • creativity
  • sustainability
  • society
  • independence
  • technology
  • content

(See figure 3, pp.60–61.)

The strategy is to maximize impact underpinning each one by organizational structures that are

  • internal to the university (e.g., Trinity Research Institutes), or
  • external to the university via strategic partnerships (e.g., the Royal Irish Academy of Music), or
  • national initiatives led by Trinity (e.g., Science Foundation Ireland-funded AMBER Centre).

Trinity recognizes that developing interdisciplinary research programmes of truly international significance requires focus. Under the strategic plan we will identify, by means of an international review, those research activities in which the university is already, or might soon be, recognized as a world reference point. We will also identify currently emergent areas that might be enabled to grow in significance over time. Criteria used will be the breadth of staff involved at all career levels—without dependence on one or a small number of individuals—significant recognized contribution to knowledge, and the existence of a common research mission addressing a question of acknowledged significance to society. Such areas will be supported by prioritized access to strategic-staffing programmes, strategic funding, space, and other resources available to the university.

We will achieve the objective of greater research impact by:

  • completing the comprehensive review of our 21 research themes commenced in April 2014, and thereafter continuing to examine how dynamic reconfigurations can improve research impact
  • increasing our focus on interdisciplinary research by promoting and encouraging openness across disciplinary boundaries and cultures
  • further establishing a culture of recognition where success in research and scholarship is acknowledged and celebrated
  • fostering and rewarding interdisciplinarity and collaboration while simultaneously valuing the individual scholar
  • developing a framework for supporting acknowledged and emergent areas of research excellence
  • using the results to inform our Global Research Question (see Global Research Question below).

B6.2 Research Environments

A sine qua non for research excellence is world-class infrastructure that supports multidisciplinary collaboration, international research partnerships, and multifaceted relationships with industry and other critical actors. It must also facilitate public engagement with research questions of societal concern and global challenge. We will significantly enhance the quantity and quality of our research environments over the period of this plan to ensure that Trinity’s research excellence is enhanced and its impact increased.

Through the execution of an Estates and Infrastructure Development Plan, we will:

  • complete the Trinity Business and Innovation Hub that will incorporate the new Trinity School of Business and an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub and become an integrative force for innovation and a driver for translational research
  • design and build a landmark new structure to house engineering and the natural sciences in E3—the Engineering, Energy and Environment Institute. E3 will advance research that addresses Ireland’s economic priorities, contributing to growth, competitiveness and job creation
  • work with our partners to create a Cancer Institute, which will consolidate cancer-related activities, including cancer care, research and education, on one location providing an unparalleled opportunity to improve cancer care based on cutting-edge research
  • enhance facilities in the Library to allow for greater global access to the research collections accelerating access to unique and distinctive Library content to activate new areas of scholarship; harnessing library expertise in user behaviour and content to partner in research themes; developing data management protocols to ensure the longevity of research outputs.

B6.3 Global Research Question

Universities around the world constitute the largest group of researchers with the freedom to address the great questions facing the future of humankind. As a non-profit institution working for the public good, there is an opportunity for Trinity to address a global research question (GRQ), perhaps together with other like-minded bodies, in a way that enhances Ireland’s reputation on the world stage, and that will have a long-term positive global impact.

In the course of this Strategic Plan 2014–19, we will:

  • address a GRQ that will play to the strengths of Trinity, in terms of the mission of the university and the skills and resources of its staff, and announce the GRQ within the first year of this strategic plan
  • identify appropriate partners, and establish a global network of universities, research institutes, and non-governmental organizations who together can make a meaningful, long-term intervention in addressing a research question of global importance
  • make a discernible impact on a GRQ, leading to recognizable change in practical outcomes.

We will significantly enhance the quantity and quality of our research environments over the period of this plan

B6.4 Research Outputs

A university that competes globally for talented students and staff, and for industry research contracts and strategic partnerships cannot but recognize the importance of the international rankings, notwithstanding concerns about their limitations. Therefore an objective of the university is to maximize its position in selected world university rankings.

We will achieve this objective by:

  • setting a target to improve Trinity’s position amongst the top 20 universities in Europe in at least one major world university ranking, and to place Trinity in the upper levels of the top 100 in the world in at least one major world university ranking and promote this target as a common mission for the college community
  • reinforcing areas of strength that have currently high-performing researchers who are capable of immediately contributing to Trinity’s research mission and reputation
  • seeking to enhance research strength in other areas by supporting researchers who have the potential to contribute further to the university’s research output and rankings performance
  • securing at least 25 European Research Council (ERC) awards, and securing research funding of €125m from the Horizon 2020 programme
  • instituting a university-wide, discipline-specific mentoring scheme to support staff in achieving appropriate levels of research performance aligned with a multi-annual, individual, research-planning process.