Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

EVOLUNIMONT Report Summary

Project ID: 229958
Funded under: FP7-REGPOT
Country: Montenegro

Final Report Summary - EVOLUNIMONT (Evaluation of Research Activities and Strategic Planning of Research at the University of Montenegro)

Executive Summary:
Current EU intentions to increase its competitiveness based on knowledge, accompanied by strategic orientation to EU integration of the national Government, inevitably positions research higher on the agenda in Montenegro.

These developments have set new goals to the University of Montenegro, being the oldest and largest research performer in the country, which naturally imposes that it should be one of the main drivers of the social and economic development. In addition, research environment in the country keeps getting more and more competitive, with the establishment of new higher education and research institutions.

Next, being the part of the Western Balkans Region, with the countries with similar historical and research background and tradition, has added new goals to the University. During the last two decades, once strong connections and interdependence has decreased due to the well known changes, but the efforts has increased over the last five or six years to re-establish lost ties, thus making the WB strong and dependable partner in European research. So, the University of Montenegro also has to consider its position in the region, and where it can both contribute and benefit most to the full integration of regional research into the EU research family.

In order to respond to these needs and enable that its research capacities are used to its full extent and further developed, the University management has set series of adequate activities and measures. However, it is impossible to sustain a system without comprehensive strategic basis, especially given the fact that the UoM is comprised of 19 faculties and 3 research institutes and covering almost all scientific fields. Therefore, it was crucial at this point to define directions of development of the institution and its research component.

Through the project Evaluation of Research Activities and Strategic Planning of Research at the University of Montenegro EVOLUNIMONT, strategic planning process was carried out, preceded by the development of the current research profile of the University, based on external evaluation of the existing research quality and capability. A panel of experienced experts, appointed by the EC, was in charge of leading the process, together with the Vice-Rector for Research, assisted by the local project team. In addition, activities aimed at acquiring knowledge on decision-making in the process of evaluation and strategic planning, as well as awareness raising on the importance of the process among the research community and wider public. All University units, together with the University management and representatives of professors' associations, were also involved in the development of the Strategic research plan, led by the appointed strategic expert. This document is a final result of the project.

Project Context and Objectives:
The European Union endeavors to make Europe the most competitive society in the world have put stronger emphasis on knowledge sector. In the EU context, it brought about measures to intensify the ongoing international cooperation in the knowledge and research area, providing appropriate tools. Accordingly, opportunities to integrate the Western Balkan Region as a solid research partner in the EU research context, introduced needs to define excellent research players inside the region, adding another dimension to the both, cooperation and competition among the countries concerned. In addition to that, strong commitment of the national government to the EU integration processes provide necessary stimulus to placing research higher onto the research agenda. As one of the results, industry and SMEs are becoming more competitive and skilled in resources management. Also, new research performers on national level started changing the research environment, creating new, more competitive atmosphere, especially when it comes to distribution of national funds, since until recently, the University of Montenegro almost had a privileged position in the distribution.

All of these changes have imposed to the management of the University of Montenegro a need to consider the current University position in the newly developed environment and boost the existing research function of the institution through different measures and support mechanisms.

The University of Montenegro is the only public higher education and research institution in the country, comprised of 19 faculties and 3 institutes, and, at the same time, largest research performer, with diversified research activities, each of scientific fields represented. Under its umbrella there are together, on one side, some of the oldest research institutes in the country, such as Biotechnical Faculty (former Biotechnical Institute) and Historical Institute, and, on the other hand, newly introduced disciplines, such as Pharmacy.

However, political crisis that hit the Western Balkans, Montenegro being part of it, and the transition processes that followed, has severely influenced research, hitting it from several sides: public funding for teaching and especially research has been reduced to almost being negligible; once strong industry was almost completely ruined; isolation of the country completely stopped the international cooperation; brain-drain. And those are only some of the circumstances that caused research activities to almost completely cease on national level.

The efforts resulted in intensification of international cooperation, slight increase of mobility, re-establishment of the links with economic sector, first of all with some development-oriented SMEs. Several initiatives, in the framework of different support schemes, initialised different processes that will all lead to development of sustainable institutional, strategic and support framework for research: establishment of R &D Service center, QA Center, the responsibility of which will broaden to research as well, participation in EU supported projects that provide instruments for establishing connections with industry and innovation systems.

However, for the success of the reforms, it was crucial to set foundations of the system through overarching strategic framework. That is why the University of Montenegro proposed the EVOLUNIMONT project. It was described as the chance to evolve. And indeed, it provided this massive institution a framework for stimulating its research by:

- Identifying obstacles (institutional, policy, material and human) for research that need to be removed,
- Learning about good practices in research management of Universities that have achieved intensive development in research
- Defining the University Research Strategy that will facilitate research and research management within the University
- Providing a standard for following its progress and comparing its research quality with European counterparts

The project set the following 4 objectives:

1 Attain an evidence based and widely recognised profile of the existing research quality and capability of UoM and its prospects.
Evaluation (WP1) carried out to reach this objective, was the first attempt to evaluate research function of the University of Montenegro, so, there were no developed standard protocols either on institutional, or national level.
Internal evaluation and process of process of development of SWOT analyses (as part of it), was carried out and adopted at the University units, based on the questionnaire developed by the coordinator, strategic expert and project team, with assistance and supervision of the project boards.
For external evaluation, it was essential to engage high level independent experts in the field. With assistance of the EC, a committee of 4 internationally recognized experts was established. The evaluation was performed in compliance with more general rules for evaluation of research, as applied at developed European research institutions, adapted to the focus of the project at the UoM and availability of the existing data. The committee worked closely with the University / project management on development of the evaluation procedure. (Milestone 1: Protocol for evaluation of the University of Montenegro).

2 Acquire sufficient knowledge for responsible decision-making in the process of evaluation and Strategic planning of research at the UoM.
Two major activities were performed to this goal (WP2): a regional workshop on evaluation of research was held, and a study visit of the project team to a university with a well established system of institutional support to research activities. Manchester Institute of Innovation Research was involved in regional workshop on Evaluation and planning of research, held in Montenegro. The host institution of the study visit was Brno University of Technology (CZ).
Reaching this objective also provided framework for establishing core of the future partnership with both mentioned institutions, as well as with the partners from the region that participated at the regional workshop. Representative of Brno University of Technology took part in the project as the Advisory Board member, especially in the activities related to the knowledge gaining activities.

3 Set strategic goals for the research function of the University of Montenegro, in order to support national and regional economic development.
In order to set foundations for strengthening the research function of the University in a comprehensive and systematic way, the management has recognised the necessity to tackle the problems in its research function in a thorough, systematic way, first of all by developing a Research Strategy that would facilitate research and research management within the University (WP3).
An expert for strategic planning was selected on the basis of an open call. In close cooperation with the project coordinator, consultations with the evaluation committee and participation in some of the evaluation activities and study visit, she developed a good background for the strategic planning process. As one of the activities, a Strategic planning workshop was held, gathering together representatives of the University management, deans and directors of University units, representatives of associations and experts.

4 Raise awareness of the importance of evaluation and strategic planning of research among the research community and wider public.
The project itself was the opportunity to involve researchers at the University in planning of the activities that many of them have been discussing about in the previous period. A change in the attitude, as a very important starting point, was evident, and can be considered as one of the important additional objectives reached.
Dissemination of the project (WP4) was a very important goal for the success of the project, especially with the view of involvement of all the stakeholders in the processes of evaluation and planning. With that aim, promotional materials were developed and web site posted. The process of evaluation was open towards the public to the highest extent, especially the interested public - Montenegrin research community. The report was considered and discussed at the Management and Advisory Board meeting, and also forwarded to the deans of the UoM units for comments.
As the project was an opportunity to raise public awareness on the importance of research for the development processes in the country, and on the position of the University as the leader in the domain. So, apart from the representatives of the press, the Final workshop (Milestone 6) where the University Research Strategy was presented by the University management and project team, including the strategic planning expert, gathered the representatives of wider research community, representatives of associations and the Ministry of Education and Science. Also, the media representatives took part in it, reporting on it on the news on several TV channels. Next, since there are ongoing comprehensive reforms affecting both, research and teaching processes in the institution, it is planned to present the whole package of the strategic documents, lead by the Research Strategic Plan and QA Strategy for Research and Teaching (supported under IPA), once the latter is adopted. This will enable fuller and wide impact on the society as a whole.
Project Results:
Meeting the overall goal of the project, i.e. providing the University of Montenegro with the comprehensive framework for stimulating its research activities, brought about concrete results and new knowledge generated. In order to distinguish the achievements more easily, they are divided into two groups, relating to two major processes that were completed during the project realisation, producing concrete results:

1. External evaluation of research quality and capability (Work Package 1) with joint SWOT analysis, based on the self-evaluation reports of the University units, and external evaluators on the spot visits, interviews and workshops (evaluation report can be found attached to the report).

2. Development of Strategic research plan (Work Package 3), developed by the strategic planning expert, based on the exchange of knowledge and good practice, external evaluation report and strategic planning workshop that enabled contribution of all University units, University management and individual researchers to the process;

3. In addition, the process of knowledge acquisition and accumulation (Work Package 2) was evident throughout the implementation, through participation of the UoM staff in the activities within both of the above mentioned processes, and through participation on the specific, custom made activities.
In order to provide smooth implementation of the project, especially due to the involvement of the experts that didn't have experience with the University before, it was important to provide sound managerial and advisory structure. In that respect, the project was coordinated by Prof. Mira VUKCEVIC, Vice-Rector for research who was in charge of the overall coordination. Assisted by the project team, she managed the day-to-day activities and was actively involved in the both processes - evaluation and strategic planning.

Advisory Board (Academic Petar VUKOSLAVCEVIC, Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts, MSc Slobodanka KOPRIVICA, independent expert, Prof. Dr Alojz KRALJ, University of Ljubljana, Prof. Dr Kate BARKER, Manchester Institute of Innovation, Dr Michal KOTOUL, Brno University of Technology) of the project was composed of experts from the country and abroad, and they were involved at different stages of the project implementation. Over time, the role of the national members became slightly more prominent, simply because they were able to participate in person in most of the project activities, especially during the Strategic Planning.

1. EXTERNAL EVALUATION OF RESEARCH CAPABILITY AND WORK

The process of the external evaluation of research quality and capability was conducted by the group of four experienced evaluators, appointed by the European Commission Prof Baruch RAZ, Chair of the Committee, Prof Vito SARDO, Prof Nikos KYRISTIS and Prof Irina RIBAROVA). The evaluation itself was preceded by the internal evaluation of the individual University units, the results of which fed into the external evaluation process. The project coordinator was deeply involved in both of the processes, enabling necessary coordination to the work of the units, and providing support and guidance to the evaluators.

The internal evaluation procedure was divided in two sets of activities, with two sets of intermediate results: SWOT analyses for each of the University units and data from the internal evaluation questionnaires. For data collection, a questionnaire developed by the project team, together with the strategic expert, was used.

So, in addition to the individual SWOT analyses, different categories of data were gathered, covering the period 2004 - 2009. The categories were divided as follows:

- general data (name, date of establishment, research orientation,etc)
- organization of the department (management structure, research/development centres, labs, spin-offs, libraries, services, administration, etc)
- resources (human, including young researchers/PhD students, foreign students; material resources; RTD budget per year and per funder)
- scientific output (achievements, projects, plans, articles, papers, conferences, awards and merits, IPR, international cooperation)
- participation of students in research (manner and organization of their participation; PhD thesis awarded, etc)
- cooperation with the business community (state-of the art, obstacles, level of awareness on the possibilities of cooperation, spin-offs, organisation of the existing proposal writing capacities)

The process was carried out in the period from June to the end of October, 2009. Through active participation, the units were introduced to research evaluation from the beginning, thus providing them with the basis to conduct evaluation in future. On the level of units, appointed representatives of the units, and unit councils were involved in the process. Each of the questionnaires was adopted by the respective unit Council. Due to time constraints, the process of external evaluation started before all of the units submitted their questionnaires. Consequently, with consultations with the coordinator, the evaluators took over the process of the revision of the received documents, which became an integrated part of the Report on Evaluation.

What became evident after the internal evaluation is, that the intensity of research is not unified among the units of the UoM. The differences are present in most of the categories above mentioned, which results in uneven research results and activities. However, and unfortunately, it became obvious that what most of the units, if not all, have in common is low investment in research, insufficient equipment, insufficient number of PhD students and international projects (especially EU funded), lack of completely reliable system for recording research achievements, etc.

In parallel, the task of collecting the available data other than the evaluation forms was carried out. The following documents were brought to the evaluators attention: Data on research output (data base presently in development at the Rectorate, data-bases at single University units, MOES data bases on human resources and projects); External evaluation report on higher education at the University of Montenegro (completed at the end of 2007); Segments of the National strategy for scientific-research activities (adopted in July 2008); Law on scientific-research activities; Law on higher education; Constitution of Montenegro; Collective agreement for University staff; Statute of the University of Montenegro; Report on the mobility of researchers in Montenegro (from a workshop held in 2007); Report from round tables of an independent association of University professors and researchers (held during 2007).

A simple data base of the stakeholders was prepared, relying on the database of the Montenegrin NCPs, as well as e-cris database of researchers (http://e-cris.cg.cobiss.net/search/rsr_search1.aspx?lang=scg). This database was used in both processes - evaluation and strategic development.

Results of the internal evaluation were used as a direct input to the process of the external evaluation that followed. In the period from September to December, 2009, the Committee of the appointed evaluators worked on the development of the Report on the external evaluation. The report is based, apart from the internal evaluation results, on several steps and activities the evaluators carried out themselves.
Next, a workshop with participation of the UoM units' representatives and management took place (November 5). It was organized and developed by the evaluators and moderated by them, with the assistance of the project team. The workshop was based on model of identifying drivers-state-response by the University representatives. The workshop was divided into several tasks, in accordance with the heading. There were three groups present, and each participated in each of the tasks providing its own input. Later, based on the input, the joint proposal of the UoM was made and compared to the one of the evaluators. What is significant is that the strategic planning expert also took part in the workshop, which was a good starting point to meet representatives of the University units and also to establish connections with the evaluators, thus enabling necessary synergy between the two parts of the process.
Apart from the general description of the UoM and description of methodology and timeline of the evaluation, the main and most important part of the Report on External Evaluation is Analyses, focused on the following:

- Analysis of self-evaluation, interviews and visits (in order to create comparable analyses of the units, the data were analyzed against 6 indicators: the ratio of the number of students to the number of the teaching staff; the ratio of the yearly total budget to the number of the students; the ratio of total yearly papers to the number of the teaching staff; the ratio of the number of PhD students per teacher; the ratio of the number of EU research projects per teacher; the ratio between the number of long-term secondments (above 3 months) and teachers).

- SWOT analyses (level of units and UoM as a whole): on the level of units, different approaches were applied for the first two components of the SWOT analysis - 'S' and 'W' compared to the other two - 'O' and 'T'. Since the first two relate to the present time, they were used as a collection of information, then complemented by the other data from the self-evaluation forms, and completed with the evaluator's own input based on the impressions and opinions formed during the interviews and visits. On the other hand, the latter two relate to a future time and are very difficult to estimate given the databases of UoM and the uncertainties associated with future events. So, the opportunities and threats were documented as they were seen by the units. In this way the strategic thinking of the units could be revealed.

Tabular comparison of Strengths and Weaknesses, based on the data given by the units was at the later stage compared to the findings of the evaluators. It shows that the average strengths according to the evaluators result only slightly above those of the units themselves. But there is a big difference in the averages of the weaknesses, which indicates that the units are not aware of some of the problems they are facing.

As for the Opportunities and Threats, some are more common than the others. So, among identified opportunities, the following three were more common than the others: international cooperation, cooperation with business community and good education of the new generation. In the Threats area, most commonly identified were that the science will not be a governmental priority (5 units) and that the industrial sector will remain underdeveloped (4 units).

On the level of the University as a whole, the evaluators first numbered several acts that hinder research at the UoM (relatively new structure, ranging from older institutes to newly-established units; research affected by political instability in the past and prevailingly teaching orientation of the faculties; research not conducted independently under the coordination of the Rector but is rather left for the single entities to manage it individually; overlaps in objectives between different units, but without cooperation and synergies; Governmental funding insufficient, aimed mostly at teaching process and the University doesn't have fair share in the overheads; the UoM central library suffers from lack of funds, trained personnel and modern facilities; insufficient flow of information between the faculties.
The comprehensive SWOT analysis shows that main STRENGTHS are existence of excellent researchers/groups, the UoM is a comprehensive University, regional cooperation is rather strong, there are high quality PhD students, etc. WEAKNESSES, on the other hand, show the UoM as prevailingly a teaching university, low synergy among units, low number of publications, poor and unevenly distributed equipment, insufficient number of PhD students, etc.
As some of the OPPORTUNITIES, following were mentioned: becoming a strong research unit, which supports the national development requirements; increased availability of international funds; interdisciplinary cooperation among the units; transition from dispersed control to centralised control at University level.
Here are also some of the THREATS mentioned: young graduates cannot be absorbed by the local society; Resistance to innovation due to mental inertia; brain drain, etc.

DPSIR analyses (a planning approach, which was initially proposed by the National Institute of Public Health and Environment, Bilthoven, Netherlands (EEA, 1998), and explained as a chain of causal links starting with 'driving forces' (economic sectors, human activities) through 'pressures' (emissions, waste) to 'states' (physical, chemical and biological) and 'impacts' on ecosystems, human health and functions, eventually leading to political 'responses' (prioritization, target setting, indicators) (Kristensen (2004)): based on the outcomes of workshops held in November 2009 (first solely for the evaluators, second aimed at the UoM community)provided a brief description and comparison of the findings of the evaluators and 3 groups from the UoM. The DSR - analysis was applied in three stages: 1) description of the state, considering only the weaknesses (W) of the research in the UoM; 2) identification of the drivers (D); 3) suggestion of the solutions, 'money needed' and 'non-money needed' (responses - R). The comparison of the results was given in tabular form.

In total, 20 Weaknesses were identified, and only 1 (lack of equipment) was identified by all the groups.
There were 24 Drivers identified (Lack of assessment and response mechanism; low appreciation of research by the Government; insufficient funds; bad state of industry; etc)'non-money needing' suggestions were more coherent than the drivers. Seven out of 11 solutions were common to two groups. No solution was common to more than two groups, which might indicate that the solutions are not so obvious. Some of the suggestions were: establish internal and external quality assessment system; establish rules for time sharing between teaching and research; establishing a body in charge of communication and cooperation with industry, etc.
'Money needing' suggestions: among 17 identified, only 1 was recognized by three groups as important (enhancing the interactions with the EU financing bodies)., and 12 were proposed by one group only.

As a conclusion to the suggested solutions, it was pointed out that, due to the inconsistency and lack of agreement, they were not very useful.

Ranking of the suggestions:
The groups ranked the 'non-money needing' and 'money needing' suggestions. In spite of this limitation the results were quite satisfactory and useful. All four groups gave the same ranking of the suggestions, and each group gave the highest priority to the solution: Build up a detailed strategy at faculty and university levels, followed by: Establish internal and external quality assessment system and Establish rules for time sharing between teaching and research.
The ranking of 'money needing' suggestions was not as consistent as previous one. However, the top three suggestions were:
- Send researchers to study new areas in top level places and support their return.
- Central fund for big equipment for common use.
- Improve information and library services.

In the summary of the findings, several problems that the University of Montenegro had been facing were emphasised: integration process still not complete; GDP percentage dedicated to research extremely low; disparity in the levels of various researchers and research groups; poor state of the central library; compared to the situation at the universities in EU, surprisingly high level of satisfaction of the student population.

On the other hand, this is the only comprehensive university in a small country, so, apart from teaching, advisory role to the government is one of the possible strengths, and also there should be activities enabling more central management and control that would lead to series of improvements of research component. In that respect, several suggestions on how to increase research activity at the University of Montenegro were given:

- Develop a mechanism of regular internal evaluation;
- Review on regular basis research status of each department;
- The freedom to do private work should be restricted to an acceptable number of days per week;
- The university's share of the tuition fees and other sources of external revenue should be increased considerably;
- Any income to the University bodies should be channeled and re- distributed through a central administration service, including an independent accounting facility;
- The university should make greater efforts to obtain more international funding;
- Increasing the availability of funds to the Rectorate can affect positively the most salient weaknesses of UoM;
- Linking with high level external institutions into specifically oriented networks will help the local academic units to remain abreast of the progress in research

2. STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS

Preparatory activities of the process were initialized in parallel with the evaluation process, and the strategic planning expert was appointed (First it was based on an internal call for proposals, and the intention was to involve somebody from UoM staff. However, since nobody from the local experts applied, it was then appointed to the only applicant, Ms Luisa MILIC, MSc, who lives and works in the UK, but is of Montenegrin origin, so, she was able to carry out this process in the Montenegrin language and full participation of the research community was still possible). Next, she was included in the concrete knowledge gain activities, and some of the activities of the external evaluation, which provided her with sufficient insight into these systems and activities.

2.1 Intermediate Delivery Planning Work Plan

The overall strategic planning process was based on the Intermediate Delivery Planning Work Plan for two periods (from May to the end of December 2009; and January - March 2010), which she developed together with the project coordinator and members of the team.
Since it was crucial to involve both, management of the University/units and wider research community in the process, the Working Group (WG) for strategy development was appointed, gathering representatives of the top University management (Rector, Vice-Rectors, Secretary General of the UoM, R&D Center and International Relations Office representatives, legal department representative,), then unit representatives (deans, directors of the institutes, vice-deans for research/international cooperation; all these members are researchers at the same time), teachers' association representative, representatives of the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts.

2.2 Strategic Planning workshop/Strategic Research Planning Workbook

In order to provide quality input from all the participants, as one of the intermediate results, the Strategic Research Planning Workbook was developed and distributed to the WG members, for them to involve wider audience at their units. Exchange of the experience and ideas of the WG members with the strategic planning expert, and in order to shape the future Strategic plan, was organised through a workshop, held at the end of January, 2010.

The Strategic Research Planning Workbook was in line with the activities planned to be carried out at the workshop, and covered the chapters of the future Strategic plan. It encompassed the following:
- Planning audit - the main purpose of the planning audit exercise was to identify key strengths and weaknesses of the UoM current capacity to plan.
On the basis of the input, a conclusion was drawn that the key University organizational strength lied in the strong commitment and readiness of the University management to carry out strategic research planning and in its willingness to converse and collaborate with employees on key strategic research issues. The quality of the decisions in steering the UoM forward to enhance research function was highly recognized by all participants. The top- down communication throughout organization received above average score, as well as the management support for a creative thinking and ideas (essential for successful creation of research vision and strategy formulation). The University capacity for creativity and innovation, its ability to collect meaningful data, ask tough questions and manage and adjust to change received above average scores as well.
- Value audit - helped to identify the core values which will shape the University research culture, define the character of the University and guide researchers how to behave and make decisions about their research activities.
Main identified values were: integrity, academic freedom, research focus, teamwork and collaboration, reward based on value.

- Mission statement - four groups gave their suggestions which were later unified as the UoM mission statement in the Strategic plan, basing it on systematic approach, creativity, transparency, sustainability. The mission was described as the process of defining strong research culture at the University, and achieving leading position in the country and the region in the strong research fields, following and applying state-of-the-art research results, promoting and developing multi-disciplinary work with the aim of creating the knowledge based society.

- Strategic planning activity mind map exercise

- Vision statement brainstorming session - again combined conclusions of the four working groups, which focused on seeing the UoM as an institution that promotes research and raises awareness on the fact that research investment is the investment in the overall development, an institution that provides good working conditions for not only national but also regional researchers, and young researchers, an institution with well developed capacities for proposal preparation and participation in international projects.

- Selection of research program priorities - was proposed based on the set of the following criteria:
Availability of competences. University strengths
Compliance with national/regional priorities
Availability of funding
Budget constraints
Public pressure for relevance and accountability
Competitive advantage
External/ Internal Evaluation process

Based on these, 12 priorities were identified and further elaborated: environment, health, energy/energy efficiency, IT, marine biology, tourism, education, life sciences, agriculture, society, new materials, spatial management.
Goals, objectives, strategy formulation - Five common themes emerged around the strategic intent of the University to improve its research orientation. Each was further developed and described through objectives (sub-goals) and initial proposals to accomplish them.
- To improve research capacity and capabilities, facilities, infrastructure and administrative support for research.
- To build nationally and internationally recognized research programs and enhance university research visibility and reputation.
- To be more creative and innovative in pursuing external research funding objectives.
- To strengthen and increase collaboration and research partnerships with other national or international institutions, industries, and government agencies.
- To improve performance, assessment and accountability of research and sponsored projects.

What was characteristic of the workshop is high commitment of the participants as well as quality input to the strategic document.

2.3 Strategic Research Plan
After the workshop, the process of the Strategic Research Plan (Milestone) development passed on the next stage. The Plan was developed based on:
- extensive consultation with the University leadership and individual faculties/institutes
- synthesis of the inputs and recommendations from the Report on External Evaluation of the Research Potential of the University of Montenegro
- internal evaluations including the University Research SWOT Analysis, and
- individual proposals from each University unit and their recommendations and inputs at the Strategic Research Planning Workshop held in January 2010.

The Plan, after giving the overview of the current research standing and profile, focuses on its purpose (guiding values, mission, vision)

2.3.1 Guiding values
- Integrity: expressed through the attention to the highest ethical standards in all domain and insistence and demand for honesty, decency and fairness;
- Academic Freedom: current commitment not to compromise it, and its advancement seen as a foundation of any forthcoming research undertaking;
- Research Focus: continuous efforts to improve awareness of research function within University that leads to global as well as individual transformation and focus on issues critical to regional development, national interests and global community;
- Teamwork and Collaboration: inter-disciplinarity, teamwork, readiness to help each other, external partnerships, and capacity to create new fields of research exploration;
- Reward based on Values: exercised through willingness and desire to recognize and reward dedication, contribution, superior quality research and services of active research staff as a key instrument for motivation.

2.3.2 Research Mission Statement
The mission was defined as creation of a pervasive research culture across all academic disciplines and achieving leadership position in the region within areas that are of national importance, by
- Sustained development and effective use of University infrastructure and human resources,
- Continuous improvement of supporting frameworks by exploring the best practices adopted by world leading institutions and adapting them to the local context,
- Meticulousness, creativity, transparency, sustainability and humanity of scientific research and art work as a foundation for advancement of quality of life, and
- Promotion and development of multidisciplinary research initiatives to create a fully integrated knowledge society and make significant contribution to the social and economic development of Montenegro and the region

2.3.3 Research Vision Statement
Common vision about the University research future will serve as the framework for the University research directions for the years 2010-2013 and guide every aspect of research by describing what University needs to accomplish in order to achieve sustainable quality growth in research area. The vision informs all decisions and activities. It is the living, breathing heart of the institution.

2.3.4 Strategy itself
The Strategy starts with the statement of strategic intent and recognition and assessment of challenges and opportunities the University faces, as well as a realistic assessment of the University's current and potential capacity for effectively addressing or capitalizing upon them.

2.3.5 Research priorities:
Since this was the very first comprehensive research strategy of the UoM, it was decided that the units should be given equal opportunity to develop in this initial stage of strategic approach to the research function. It resulted in total number of 13 priorities, giving enough space to all of the units to try and enhance their research. The priorities are more closely defined in the text of the Strategy:
- agriculture
- ecology
- energy
- health and wellness
- ICT
- life science
- materials and new production technologies
- marine biology and maritime studies
- socio-economic development
- society, science and education
- spatial management
- tourism
- transport research

2.3.6 Strategic Research Program Goals, Success Factors and Objectives
2.3.6.1
Goal:
- To improve research capacity and capabilities, facilities, infrastructure and administrative support for research
Objectives:
- Recruit, develop and maintain highly qualified and diverse research staff and increase the number of research active staff in the next three years to 85% of total
- Establish fully operational research infrastructure and RTD Service Centre
- Increase University research capacity by providing adequate physical environment and equipment that supports research mission, vision and strategic goals
- Enhance and stimulate research productivity and international collaboration
- Restructure and increase efficiency of Library system and services

2.3.6.2
Goal:
- To build nationally and internationally recognized research programs and enhance university research visibility and reputation
Objectives:
- Select key research priorities and research programs and improve internal assessment of the selected programs
- Incorporate research in education process (teaching) more intensively and foster internship scheme
- Strengthen/intensify the conditions for academic promotion on the basis of research results at the University level
- Establish Research Web-portal to support and promote University research activities
- Promote research within national priorities which are competitive at international level

2.3.6.3
Goal:
- To be more creative and innovative in pursuing external research funding objectives
Objectives:
- Achieve level of uniform participation in national and international/EU scientific research projects that will increase research activity, funding and mobility
- Link with the existing networking initiatives in order to explore possibilities of calls published (together with line Ministries)
- Foster bilateral funding

2.3.6.4
Goal:
- To strengthen and increase collaboration and research partnerships with other national or international institutions, industries, and government agencies
Objectives:
- Build research partnership with external institutions, in industry, academia, government, which significantly advance the University research programs and external funding opportunities
- Establish Interdisciplinary Research Centres for fundamental and applied research that will employ PhD students for the period of 4 years
- Establish joint master/PhD programs with other prominent universities
- Establish International initiatives that define joint access to expensive large scale equipment (e.g. INCO-net)
- Foster mobility of staff and students (outgoing and incoming)
- Establish Alumni Research Club for possible collaboration with alumni at the national and international level

2.3.6.5
Goal:
- To improve performance, assessment and accountability of research activities and sponsored projects
Objectives:
- Perform continuous monitoring of research activities
- Advance scientific research activity through clear plans from University unites and Research Centres

Apart from these goals, and as a food for thought, some of the so-called 'stretched ideas' were introduced:
As the University continues to expand with increased number of faculty research members and graduate students over the next three years, the amount of knowledge transfer activity will grow proportionately. Partnering with industry and commercialization of research outcomes are still not widely understood and widely applied across the University. We expect that Faculty of Economics to take initiatives and investigate possible models for technology transfer mechanism by researching best practices of other universities and organizations and identify and approach a technology transfer partner to coach University management research staff.
The second stretched idea is possible establishment of the University Innovation and Incubation centre to support the creation and development of entrepreneurship in Montenegro with special focus on innovative start -up companies, science, research and development of talented students.

2.3.7 Research Administration and Resources:
The University is fully committed to support its research enterprise by increasing support to researchers and enhancing the efficiency of research administration. To support this statement, the Strategic plan addressed several different levels and players in this respect. It pointed out the following:

-Establishment of the fully operational R &D Service Center on the University level (its roles and responsibilities are fully described in the Plan itself)
-Role of the University libraries

When it comes to human resources, they were mentioned and explained in detail - as recommendations, development of HR strategies was mentioned, then a career-span, University-wide research faculty and staff development and mentoring program.
Financial resources and its increase, management and sharing, is to be supported from the central level, that should be responsible for:
-Management of research costs, resources and risks and improvement of assets utilization to deliver optimum research results
-Actively grow and diversify sources of research income through pursuing new external funding opportunities, broaden its base and strategically invest them in the future, and
-Seeking continual increases for internal funding support for research

2.3.8 Quality Assurance for Research
This aspect cannot be treated separately from the rest of the system. In that respect, the Strategic Plan emphasised that the University would develop a quality assurance and quality improvement framework by developing a quality control and evaluation system for all teaching, research, capacity development, performance and efficacy of its knowledge dissemination and sharing activities.

Consequently, the quality assurance of research will be an integrated part of the quality assurance system and will be focusing on affirming quality standards of research and its inclusion in teaching, developing and following up on prepared research plans, quality assurance of PhD programmes, quality assurance for research documentation routines and document production, and establishment and execution of research projects. As one of the important links between the QA centre and quality in research, the R &D Service Center is proposed.

2.3.9 Monitoring and Evaluation of the University's Research Plan Implementation and Results:
The Strategic Plan was not defined to be fixed and static, but a dynamic planning process involving continuous transformation, critique, adaptation and refinement. So the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation should be one of the tasks implemented regularly.
The Plan provided a timeline for the implementation accompanied by the milestones, but, as the strategy was defined as an ongoing process, they were defined in broader sense.

3. KNOWLEDGE ACQUISITION AND ACCUMULATION
In addition to the overall hands on learning process on the evaluation of research and strategic planning, specific activities aimed at the team members (and broader research community from Montenegro and the region) were carried out, with the purpose of preparing them for the processes of evaluation and strategic planning.
Basically, two events took place:

3.1 Regional workshop on Evaluation of science and technology institutions and research management, (July 2009, Kotor, Montenegro) performed by the experts from the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research of the University of Manchester - UNIMAN, Prof. Katherine BARKER and Maria NEDEVA.
It was aimed at wider audience than the project team and research community of the UoM. Representatives from other universities in Montenegro and from the region of the Western Balkans also took part.
The workshop provided a good knowledge base about state of the art in the field of evaluation of research, scientific output and impact, the present historical moment in development of Universities in Europe and in the region and its relation to the research function and the third mission of the University. Lastly, the workshop provided a framework for considering different methodologies in strategic planning of the Universities.

3.2 Study visit to Brno University of Technology (BUT) (August, 2009)
BUT was identified as an appropriate partner for this activity, due to the established services and support mechanisms they offer to the researchers.
The main purpose of the Study Visit was to acquire first-hand knowledge and experience through direct contact with BUT expert teams and practitioners in the field of research, technology transfer, incubation, and best practices in research management and research funding.
Three participants from Montenegrin side were involved into the visit: Ms Luisa MILIC, MSc, strategic planning expert, Ms Slobodanka KOPRIVICA, MSc, member of the project Advisory Board, and Prof. Dr Sasa MILIC, member of the project Management Board.
The participants learned more about the Brno University of Technology in general and principles of financing R &D, Technology Transfer principles and TTO at the University, incubators and innovation centres (see http://www.jic.cz/en online), technology parks, etc.
Potential Impact:
1 POTENTIAL IMPACT
The project proposal defined the potential project impact sub-divided under three separate headings, each addressing a different aspect:

1.1 SWOT analysis:
Two immediate project results are connected with the SWOT analysis and its impact:
- Self-evaluation document, including SWOT analyses of University units and University research administration
- Report on external evaluation of research with joint SWOT analysis
Some of the foreseen impact was shown immediately, during the implementation of the project. First of all, a wide evidence-based recognition of the present situation in research at the UoM and its prospects, by the research community in Montenegro and wider was obtained. Next, as it was planned, knowledge gaining process on research management and research policies was enabled through study visits and workshops, and served as a facilitating factor of the evaluation and strategic planning processes, and good capacity building for those that will implement the Research Strategy in the following phase.

Of course, most importantly, evaluation influenced and facilitated the process of strategic planning of research, in the second phase of the project. Not only the SWOT analysis and evaluation report were used as an input to this process, but also through direct involvement of the strategic planning expert in some of the evaluation activities and her consultations with the evaluation committee.

Next, some of the impact which can be seen more as a result of a long-term process than giving immediate results, can already be seen:
Evaluation results were described as UoM research identity card that will raise the UoM credibility at the national and international levels. Of course, the full impact of this kind is yet to come, but it is already evident in other ongoing initiatives (TEMPUS: 'Creating R &D Capacities and Instruments for boosting Higher Education-Economy Cooperation' http://www.rd-capacities.org and 'OPUS - Opening University towards Society', http://www.opus.unizg.hr online), where these efforts contributed to UoM reputation of serious and reliable partner in the EU partnerships (with Austrian, Italian, Belgian, French, German and British universities) and an example of good practice in the region.

Also, this exercise has already brought new partnerships, with regional and EU partners, with the experience gained in the evaluation process seen as a sufficient recommendation for an initiative that would hopefully lead to establishing evaluation practice in the countries of the SEE region and also provide new experience in another funding programme (SEE/IPA: EVALINNO Fostering Evaluation Competencies in Innovation in the SEE Region proposal).
However, what still remains to be accomplished, is to prove that the evaluation set basis for regular evaluation. Also, it is foreseen to open the training workshops to all the interested researchers and administration members, so as to raise their interest in involvement in research management.

1.2 Action plan:
The project proposed definition of the Strategic goals for stimulating its research, and facilitating it through sound research management, rather than developing solely an action plan. The Strategic plan was developed, containing a timetable of implementation which can be considered as a basic Action plan. Also, specific objectives under each goal were identified. Since the timetable of implementation requires further elaboration into implementation plans, outside the scope of the EVOLUNIMONT project, actors to be involved were defined. Apart from the already known actors, and since in the meantime the University has, established an R &D Service Center, as a unit on central level, its responsibilities have been defined; establishment of new advisory bodies and research and development support structures are envisaged. Each of these old and new actors will carry a part of responsibilities in the Strategy implementation.

Next, the Strategic plan will also influence and serve as basis for action plans at the level of the UoM units, and interdisciplinary groups and endeavors. E.g. Biotechnical faculty will try and measure its research function in the context broader than UoM within the framework of another REGPOT project (AgriSciMont project, approved within the last REGPOT call), and this general Strategic plan can serve as a starting point and help them streamlining their vision as the most important national research, education and expert performer in the field of agriculture, yet being a part of the larger whole - the University of Montenegro. It is expected that soon their strategy will be followed by other individual strategies, thus contributing to the overall strengthening of the research component of the University. Bearing in mind the differences between the units regarding human and material capacities, it is only natural to broaden the already achieved results, and try and use the most potent units as leaders, that will also help less developed ones in their research mission.

What is yet to be achieved is the focus and allocation of human and material resources of the University, both in research and research administration, towards priorities that are most relevant in the present day national, regional and international contexts and that will bring about the highest level of motivation to the researchers. The potential impact in this direction can be observed only in the course of implementation of the Strategy.
However, what was posed in the project as an assumption, has, fortunately, proved to be a process with significant positive impact, and that is the working atmosphere in an institution, and 'knowing where we are going' and including the individual's position. The transformation was so intense and evident, that it can be measured as an individual impact, hand in hand with the three general ones defined by the Commission.

There is an important asset to what was originally envisaged to be achieved through the project: namely, during the implementation, there were noticed serious developments in the areas of building team spirit among the different units and sense of the ownership over the strategic planning process. Taking into consideration that the University is still not completely integrated, this contributes significantly in this process. On one hand, high response and commitment of the general and unit managements was evident, as well as the participation of researchers, creating the important nucleus for future interdisciplinary research groups, and, hopefully, similar centres.

1.3 Enhanced participation in FP7:
As stated, realisation of an important institutional project as a part of FP7 programme was proven to be the best possible action of awareness rising on FP7, which at the time was one of the most important tasks of Montenegrin integration to the European Research Area. Consequently, it will result in increased participation of the UoM in FP7 programme, but the take up is still to be measured in the period to come.

What still has to be explored to full extent is partnerships established under this project and opportunities to realise contacts for common research projects in FP7, as well as for establishment of strategic partnerships.

2 DISSEMINATION/EXPLOITATION OF RESULTS
In order to provide basis for the systematic dissemination of the project activities and results, as well as their exploitation, a plan was developed, with the following objectives:

- Inform the public, especially the interested groups, on the project and its importance for the future development of the UoM
- Enhance dissemination component of all the other activities of the project (workshops, meetings, public debates)
- Develop a web-site for promotion of the project and as a two-way communication tool
- Establish press relations for promotion of the project in the media, and take advantage of the project to raise the awareness on the role of the University in the knowledge-based society.
- Organise a final workshop at the conclusion of the project, after adoption of the University Research Strategy, as a distinguished public event
- Hire a PR assistant

Raising awareness activities on the project had three target groups: the University of Montenegro research community, wider public in Montenegro and partners abroad.
In that respect, first of all, it was important to give the project a recognisable visual identity, to achieve that, logo of the project and accompanying promotional material were developed (posters, notepads, flyers, pens), as well as the project website (see http://www.evolunimont.ac.me online).

Initially it was planned to hire a PR to help the dissemination of the project. However, by the time the project implementation started, the University had established its own PR unit, whose services were then used.

The University of Montenegro research community was involved in the project activities from its very beginning, so, given the importance of the process they were involved in, the communication strategy was to start the information flow from the top management, i.e. the project itself and its initial activities were announced at the meetings of the Senate of the UoM. Taking into consideration that the UoM is still not fully integrated university, this was ideal starting point for further activities. By involving all of the units in the project activities not only awareness was raised, but also the sense of the ownership over the project.
Also, as one way of communication, the University central web-page (see http://www.ucg.ac.me online) and the web-page of the International Relations Office (see http://www.ir.ac.me online) were used as well as the UoM central mailing list, as the most efficient way of reaching wider research community.

In order to reach wider Montenegrin (research) public, it was important to reach the media, so, whenever appropriate, the media were informed and invited to disseminate the information provided, and also invited to take part in the event.

As a good example for media coverage, Round table debate on the Strategic research plan, involving the research community was organised on March 19th, 2010. It was open to broader research public. Also, representatives of the media (press and TV) had a chance to talk to the rector, project coordinator and strategic expert at a press conference held shortly before the beginning of the debate.

Thanks to the good cooperation with the NCP network, the project was presented at national Info days (dedicated or general), as an example of successful proposal, since it was one of the first FP7 projects in Montenegro, and first one coordinated by a Montenegrin institution.

Also, the Regional workshop on evaluation of research and universities (Kotor, July 2009), gathered representatives of other research institutions in the country, and, again, the project itself was presented and promotional material distributed to the participants.

As a significant and efficient tool for dissemination on regional and EU level, we used part of another FP7 initiative: the wbc-inco.net portal (see http://www.wbc-inco.net online) and the accompanying journal. It was proved to be especially efficient for the dissemination on the regional workshop: within 24 hours after we published the announcement there, we had more than 80 requests for participation from the region. Also, we published articles on EVOLUNIMONT at the web-site/journal (e.g. http://www.wbc- inco.net/object/news/68318.html, http://wbc-inco.net/object/news/90663.html online)

EVOLUNIMONT results and related experience have been exploited for these two projects, and it is expected to be continued in that direction. We used it as a good basis for the ongoing process of reaching the objective of strengthen the education- research innovation triangle in order to improve knowledge transfer from academia to industry within the OPUS project (one of its results so far: http://opus.unizg.hr/_download/repository/Toward_education-research- innovation_triangle.pdf online). Next, passing the process of the evaluation and strategic planning was actually one of the objectives of the R &D Capacities project, and the EVOLUNIMONT achievements directly fed into this project, avoiding the duplication, and we are further exploiting the results now in concrete application of the strategic plan with the support of this project, especially in the establishment of the Research Services Office as a fully operational unit at the University. In addition, our experience is being used as an example of good practice among participating universities from the region, especially when it comes to providing support and commitment from both, top management and individual units, i.e. EVOLUNIMONT helped us pass some of the important steps towards becoming fully integrated university.

The public debate held in March was used as a, so far, last official opportunity to present the project, within its time-span. It is, however, planned to present the Strategic research plan along with other newly developed documents at the University.

Namely, since different reform activities are currently being carried out at the UoM, especially in the field of Quality Assurance in research and education, soon we will have a joint event where all of the newly adopted documents will be presented to wider public and press. As explained above, under the 'Impact' section, the results played an important role in the development of the QA documents, facilitating taking up of the research component and positioning new research support structures in the overall University organisational scheme, thus contributing to the strengthening of the system as a whole, and set basis for what was a primary purpose and driving force behind the EVOLUNIMONT project: strengthening the research component of the University of Montenegro.

Project website: http://www.evolunimont.ac.me

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Mira VUKCEVIC
tel: +382 20 414 206
fax: +382 20 414 230
e-mail: mirav@ac.me

Related information

Contact

Mira VUKCEVIC, (University Professor)
Tel.: +38-281-267884
Fax: +38-281-245406
E-mail
Record Number: 45465 / Last updated on: 2013-01-18
Information source: SESAM
Collaboration sought: N/A