Portfolio Review-2016-TOR

Melbourne Research Institutes: Portfolio Review 2016

At the six year point in the Melbourne Research Institute program, their activities now reflect mature programs.  Outcomes from the establishment and early consolidation phases were considered through individual Institute Reviews at the three-year stage.

The focus of the Portfolio Review is the future of the Institutes as a collective, informed by taking stock of consolidated performance in three key areas: capacity building, linkage creation and partnerships, and profile building[1]. The University is looking to the future of the Institutes and wishes to set out objectives and success measures for the portfolio for the next five years.

These Terms of Reference are also available here Download PDF 523KB


The establishment in 2009 of the Melbourne Research Institute portfolio in selected interdisciplinary domains was motivated by the intent to: build institutional research capacity by catalysing, facilitating, promoting and acting as ‘match-maker’ for research activity and new partnerships; provide a ‘portal’ and high-profile point of contact into fields of research expertise and activity at the university; grow the University’s reputation as a site of and leader in accessible, important and relevant research; and actively generate increased external research income.

The Institute domains were chosen to profile problems of importance to society, problems that demanded interdisciplinary solutions, and where the University had substantial existing strength in relevant disciplines. The distinctive organisational[2] and funding model chosen for the Institutes presumed a lightweight, distributed operation, with a focus on enabling and facilitating through strong leadership across research agendas that drew heavily on existing strengths within the University.

The Review Panel

The Panel Chair is Professor Jenny Lewis, University of Melbourne and the Panel will comprise three other members[3], including two international experts in facilitating interdisciplinary research, and one senior University of Melbourne academic chosen to ensure the Panel comprises members from a spread of discipline backgrounds.


The Review Panel will report to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) who will report the outcome of the review to University Executive.

Method of Working

The Review Panel will be provided with substantial written material 4-6 weeks prior to the meeting. The Panel will meet once (over three days, 25-27 May 2016) at the University of Melbourne to conduct the review. This will include interviews with Directors, key internal stakeholders, representatives of Institute Advisory Boards and external parties as appropriate. A draft report will be produced during the three day period, with refinement and finalisation by email over the subsequent 4 to 6 weeks. Secretariat support for the review will be provided by Chancellery Research with administrative support for pre-review arrangements provided by nominated members of Institute admin teams.

Terms of Reference

Overall intent: Has the chosen model delivered well with regard to research capacity building, linkage creation and profile building within and outside the University of Melbourne? What revisions to current arrangements should be considered to allow the University to gain optimal benefit from their activities over the next five years? What are appropriate objectives and success measures for the portfolio for this future period?

More specifically, referencing the objectives of their establishment (Appendix 2), the Review Panel is requested to:

  1. Consider and assess the overall impact of the Melbourne Research Institute portfolio, in particular the nature of any distinctive contributions of the portfolio that arise from their organisational arrangements.
  2. Consider how the Institutes have facilitated collaboration across the University, and make recommendations as to how the portfolio could make additional impact in building institutional research capacity.
  3. Consider how the Institutes have facilitated the building of research relationships with external organisations, and make recommendations as to how the portfolio could make additional impact in building such relationships.
  4. Advise on opportunities for the portfolio to contribute to the University’s research endeavours that are not currently being explored.
  5. Advise what changes, if any, should be considered to the Institutes’ resourcing and governance arrangements that would increase their capacity to contribute to the University’s research strategy.
  6. Make recommendations on performance objectives and measures appropriate for the next five year period, in line with advice on the future objectives for the Institutes.

Appendix 1

The Review Panel

Chair of Review Panel - Professor Jenny Lewis is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Melbourne and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow for 2013-16.

Jenny is a public policy expert, with particular interest in governance, the policy-making process, policy influence, and networks. Her initial training in mathematics and statistics combined with her political science training, has led her to study diverse areas, including health politics and policy, public sector innovation, social capital, welfare reform, higher education and research policy, and the politics of performance measurement. She has published widely on policy influence, governance and the policy process and is currently working on the debate surrounding performance measurement. Jenny has a wealth of experience in generating and leading interdisciplinary research projects and during 2013-14 she was the Research Director for the Melbourne School of Government (an interdisciplinary research and graduate teaching school).

Jenny is currently the Vice President (Australia and New Zealand) of the International Research Society for Public Management, and Vice President and President Elect of the Australian Political Studies Association. She has received multiple research prizes, including the Marshall E Dimock award for best article in Public Administration Review in 1999, a VicHealth health promotion research award in 2004, and the Kooiman prize for the best article in Public Management Review in 2012.

Panel member - Kimberly Andrews Espy, PhD, is Senior Vice President for Research at the University of Arizona.

Dr Espy is responsible for interdisciplinary research centers and institutes (spanning basic to applied, in disciplines from the sciences to the humanities) as well as the three museums and central core facilities at the University of Arizona. She oversees sponsored research and contracting services and the full array of research compliance services. Dr Espy is leading efforts to support faculty research through a variety of new research development services and programs, as well as by broadening and deepening strategic external research partnerships. She also represents the University in national organizations such as the American Association of Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, Council on Research, and serves as a member of several public boards.

Dr Espy earned her bachelor's degree from Rice University and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston. She completed a clinical/pediatric psychology internship at University of Louisville School of Medicine/Bingham Child Guidance Center and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona College Of Medicine. She is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Panel member - Dr Felicity Callard is Director of Hubbub (The Hub at Wellcome Collection) and Reader in Social Science for Medical Humanities at Durham University.

Dr Callard has a background in both the humanities and the social sciences: a first class degree in geography at the University of Oxford, a masters degree in English (Critical Theory) from the University of Sussex, and a doctorate from The Johns Hopkins University in cultural / medical geography.

She is Principal Investigator of Hubbub, the first interdisciplinary two-year residency located within Wellcome Collection in central London. She leads a large team of collaborators who comprise humanities scholars, social scientists, life scientists, arts and public engagement professionals. They are investigating rest (and its opposites) as a clinical, physiological, aesthetic, historical and political-economic phenomenon.

Dr Callard has broad research interests in twentieth- and twenty-first century psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis and cognitive neuroscience. She has published on the emergence of resting state research in cognitive neuroscience, and of the interdisciplinary domain of neuropsychoanalysis; the history of agoraphobia and of panic disorder; and the turn to affect in cultural theory. She is co-author of Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences, and incoming editor-in-chief of History of the Human Sciences. She has also worked independently as a researcher and consultant in mental health, and continues to participate in mental health policy at a European level.

Panel memberEmeritus Professor Alistar Robertson, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

Alistar's research discipline is the ecology of natural and agricultural systems with a particular emphasis on food chains and biogeochemistry. His current projects also include the assessment of research impact, and case studies of large collaborations in research.

He has held research positions with Dalhousie University in Canada, the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and Charles Sturt University. He was Dean, of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences then Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at UWA between 2003 and mid 2013.

Alistar currently provides a mentoring program for early career researchers in the UWA Oceans Institute and the School of Plant Biology. He also serves on Boards, Advisory Boards and Research Committees of a number of national joint venture research institutes and centres and international committees responsible for resource management, training and research including: as a Board member of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre; as a member of the Research Committee of the Western Australian Marine Research Institution; and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Environmental Decisions.

Panel memberProfessor Dr John Haisken-DeNew, Professorial Research Fellow at the Melburne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, the University of Melbourne.

Previously Professor Haisken-DeNew was Deputy Director of the Melbourne Institute and Associate Dean Research and Research Training for the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne. He was previously a fully tenured W3 Professor of Economics and holder of the Chair “Economic Policy: Competition Theory and Policy” at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, 2009-2013.

John’s research interest focuses on education, health, competition policy, applied labor economics, applied micro econometrics, wage structure, migration, welfare and income inequality.

Appendix 2

Key elements of University objectives in establishment of the Institutes

Capacity Building, for example through

  • Attracting and supporting high quality research higher degree students in themed areas
  • Strengthening of research capability in bridging areas
  • Facilitation of external funding applications
  • Seeding novel projects with external funding potential

Linkage Creation and Partnerships,for example through

  • Engagement with external organisations and partners – including government, industry and community stakeholders
  • Added value from research income, publications output and research impact
  • Engagement with a broad spread of academic staff and research students from across the university

Profile Building,for example through

  • External recognition of the Institutes as a centre of excellence by a range of stakeholders
  • Media coverage for both the Institute and staff linked to it
  • Public lectures, symposia, seminars etc.

Appendix 3

Regulation 5.1.R7 - Interdisciplinary Research Institutes

  1. Establishment
  2. Common Objectives and Functions of Institutes
  1. Pursuant to Statute 5.1.5 (2), interdisciplinary institutes (“Institutes”), to promote research linkages and collaboration across the University and to play a lead role in articulating University research to external audiences, are established as listed in the schedule to this regulation.

In addition to the particular objectives and functions related to their respective fields of operation, Institutes have the following objectives in common:

  1. to respond to societal concerns which require interdisciplinary research approaches;
  2. to increase public awareness of, and debate on, critical issues in their field;
  3. to raise the profile of University research as the basis for various forms of partnerships;
  4. to develop relationships with relevant government departments and instrumentalities, educational institutions, and government and private research agencies, both within Australia and internationally;
  5. to promote, and attract funding for, interdisciplinary research in a recognised area of strength of the University;
  6. to encourage, design and consider proposals for research projects, particularly collaborative research projects across the University;
  7. to support research activities in selected priority areas, specific to their respective fields of operation;
  8. to provide a point of contact for University and external parties interested in their field of operation; and
  9. to provide advice to the University on any matter which it considers appropriate relating to the field of operation of the Institute.
  1. Director and Staff
  2. Organisational arrangements
  3. The director of an Institute is responsible for establishing arrangements for the effective operation of the Institute which include:
  4. an appropriate administrative structure, to support the director;
  5. the establishment of a body (which may be termed the Institute Executive), that includes researchers with significant involvement in Institute research activities, and that provides advice to the director on matters such as research development and the quality of Institute research activity;
  6. mechanisms by which academic staff of the University with expertise relevant to the field of operation of the Institute have the opportunity to be engaged with Institute activities; and
  7. Reporting and review
  1. The director of an Institute is appointed by the vice-chancellor on the recommendation of the deputy vice-chancellor (research) after consultation with the dean of the relevant faculty to which the director is to report on operational matters, as set out in the schedule to this regulation (“host dean”). The director reports to the deputy vice-chancellor (research) on strategic and financial matters. As specified in the schedule to this regulation, the director also reports to a host dean on operational matters. The director is responsible to the University through the host dean for ensuring that the Institute discharges its academic and administrative functions in accordance with the statutes, regulations, policies and procedures of the University. The director is responsible to the University through the deputy vice-chancellor (research) for ensuring the Institute conforms with policies relevant to Institutes that are established by the deputy vice-chancellor (research) from time to time.
  2. The deputy director (where applicable) of an Institute is appointed by the deputy vice-chancellor (research) on the recommendation of the director. The deputy director reports to the director.
  3. The above positions, and any other appointments in the Institute, are made as appointments of staff holding a primary appointment in some faculty or school of the University
  1. the establishment of a body with advisory input to the director and Institute Executive, if applicable (which may be termed the Institute’s Advisory Group), to provide high level advice, and to promote the interests of the Institute.
  1. The composition and terms applicable to the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b) and (d) of sub-section (1) are to be determined by the director and the deputy vice-chancellor (research) from time to time.
  2. The director of an Institute is responsible for ensuring that details of the arrangements in this section 4, including the membership and frequency of meetings of the relevant bodies, are published in a form approved by the university secretary and accessible throughout the University.
  3. In exercising the responsibilities of the role, the director is to have regard to advice and recommendations provided from time to time by the Institute Executive and the Advisory Group, as applicable.
  4. Annually, and within the University planning cycle or as otherwise agreed between the director and the deputy vice-chancellor (research), the strategic directions, operational arrangements and program of activities of the Institute are to be included in a plan prepared by the director, in consultation with the Institute Executive and the Advisory Group, as applicable. That plan is to be approved by the deputy vice-chancellor (research) following consultation with deans of faculties and schools that have involvement in the Institute.
  1. Each director will report at least annually to Council through the vice-chancellor on the operations of the Institute.
  2. Each director will report to the deputy vice-chancellor (research) and to the host dean on operations of the Institute at least every six months, or as otherwise requested by the relevant officer.
  3. Each Institute will be reviewed on a three year cycle, or as otherwise determined by the deputy vice-chancellor (research). The outcome of such a review may be the continuation or the disestablishment of the Institute.