Rules and Procedures

Rules and Procedures

Last Updated: June 16, 2009

The Niagara Community Observatory is a research institute that operates in accordance with Section III:25 of the Faculty Handbook and reports to the Vice-President, Research.

The Mission of the Observatory
The Niagara Community Observatory is a research institute of Brock University which works in partnership with the Niagara community to foster, produce, and disseminate evidence-based research on current and emerging issues.

The Goals of the Observatory

  • To be a clear demonstration of Brock’s commitment to community involvement in the Niagara area
  • To develop partnerships at the local, provincial, national, binational, and international level
  • To support and strengthen collaborative community-based research networks
  • To produce objective, credible evidence-based research to support a community-based decision-making process

The Activities of the Observatory
The Observatory will engage in research both on its own initiative and by working with other organizations. Its major research focus will be the Niagara area, but with reference to how the Niagara area is situated in the provincial, national, binational, and international spheres.

The strength of the Observatory will rest in the high level of expertise available in the University, and in the Observatory’s objectivity. The Observatory will produce non-partisan, evidence-based research. The Observatory will also strive to foster the sharing of research by diverse elements of the community who might be working on the same issues from different perspectives that uphold the same evidence-based non-partisan principles as the observatory.

The Observatory could become involved in a number of activities. It is expected that the activities of the Observatory will change over time in response to the needs of the community. The Director, acting on the advice of the Vice-President, Research and advisory committees, will decide which of these activities to pursue. Some possibilities are:

  • Prepare a series of policy briefs (3-5 per year) addressing issues of interest in the Niagara area. These briefs would be 4-8 page documents addressed to the community that would describe the current conditions in some particular field, describe how other jurisdictions are dealing with the issue, and set out policy options for Niagara. The Observatory should seek community partners to undertake this research both to ensure that the research is serving a community need and to spread the cost of doing the research.
  • Work with community partners to organize at least one forum each year devoted to one of the issue discussed in a policy brief. The purpose of the forum would be to involve a number of community organizations and serve as a catalyst for further action.
  • Assist community partners in the development of conferences or forums by providing a research component.
  • Support the preparation of periodic community reports describing current social, economic, environmental, and cultural conditions in the region.
  • Facilitate the coordination of research among community organizations by developing a network of community researchers. This could be accomplished by organizing periodic forums to allow researchers to share their knowledge, expertise, and future plans.
  • Seek funding from various agencies to engage in research about Niagara. The ongoing Popular Culture Niagara project is a model for this.

The Director will be primarily responsible for the successful conduct of these activities, but the work can be organized in a number of ways. One way of facilitating the work and involving the community in these activities would be the establishment of working groups drawn from various partner organizations to provide advice on the conduct of particular activities.

Director
The Director is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Observatory under the direction of the Vice-President, Research with input from the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and the University Advisory Committee (UAC). The Vice-President, Research, acting on the recommendation of the CAC and UAC, will appoint the Director for a three-year renewable term.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Community Advisory Committee
The purpose of the Community Advisory Committee is to establish linkages between the Observatory and the community. The Committee will advise the Director about all aspects of the direction of the Observatory.

Members of the Committee will be selected because of their knowledge of local issues and because of the contribution that they can make to the Observatory. In selecting members consideration will be given to selecting members from a representative range of organizations and geographic areas, but it is understood that members will be chosen based on their personal merits and not as representatives of their organizations.

The Vice-President, Research, acting on the advice of the Director, will appoint members of the Community Advisory Committee for a term of a maximum of three years which is renewable.

Roles and Responsibilities of the University Advisory Committee
The purpose of the University Advisory Committee is to establish linkages between the Observatory and the faculties in the university. The Committee will advise the Director about all aspects of the direction of the Observatory.

There will be at least one member of the Committee from each teaching faculty. They will be selected because of their knowledge of local issues and because of the contribution that they can make to the Observatory, but it is understood that members will be chosen based on their personal merits and not as representatives of their faculties.

The Vice-President, Research, acting on the advice of the Director, will appoint members of the University Advisory Committee for a term of a maximum of three years which is renewable.

Roles and Responsibilities of Research Associates and Adjunct Research Associates
The Research Associates and Adjunct Research Associates will play a key role in the success of the Observatory. They will be very influential in shaping the research direction of the Observatory by advising the Director and the advisory committees about future research initiatives. They will constitute a dynamic group of researchers involved in research related to the Niagara area, and will be expected to be ambassadors for the Observatory. The benefits of becoming an associate are:

  • Participation in all activities of the Observatory
  • Ability to work closely with like-minded researchers
  • Provision of significant benefits to the Niagara area
  • Ability to apply jointly for research funding to external agencies

Research Associate
Any employee of Brock University with an employment contract of one year or longer who is currently undertaking or is interested in pursuing research with regard to the Niagara community is invited to apply to become a Research Associate of the Niagara Community Observatory.

There is no formal application form. The applicant should write to the Director indicating why he or she would like to become a Research Associate and explaining what contribution he or she will make to the Observatory. The applicant should also include a CV.

Applications will be evaluated based on the contribution that applicants can make to the activities of the Observatory as demonstrated by research related to the Niagara area and the applicant’s plans for future research. The Director and the members of the Community Advisory Committee and the University Advisory Committee will make the final decision about approval of the application. Approval of Associate status will normally be for a three-year period which can be renewed an indefinite number of times. Applications for renewal will take the same form as applications for affiliation.

Associate status can be revoked at the discretion of the Director if an Associate is no longer engaged in activities in line with the objectives of the Observatory.

Adjunct Research Associate
Anyone who does not meet the employment criteria mentioned in the previous section and is currently undertaking or is interested in pursuing research with regard to the Niagara community is invited to apply to become an Adjunct Research Associate of the Niagara Community Observatory. It is anticipated that adjunct research associates will be employees of organizations active in the Niagara area or independent researchers. An adjunct research associate must devote a significant portion of her or his time to performing research on the Niagara community. For adjunct research associates, the research does not have to take the form of refereed academic research, but the research activity must involve evidence-based research rather than commentary or policy advocacy.

There is no formal application form. The applicant should write to the Director indicating why he or she would like to become an Adjunct Research Associate and explaining what contribution he or she will make to the Observatory. The applicant should also include a CV.

Applications will be evaluated based on the contribution that applicants can make to the activities of the Observatory as demonstrated by research related to the Niagara area and the applicant’s plans for future research. The Director and the members of the Community Advisory Committee and the University Advisory Committee will make the final decision about approval of the application. Approval of Adjunct Associate status will normally be for a three-year period which can be renewed an indefinite number of times. Applications for renewal will take the same form as applications for affiliation.

Adjunct Research Associate status can be revoked at the discretion of the Director if an Associate is no longer engaged in activities in line with the objectives of the Observatory.

With regard to both types of research associates, there is no remuneration and no guarantee of research assistance or research space.

Annual reporting requirements
The Observatory’s fiscal and operating year will be May 1 to April 30. Each year, the Observatory will submit an annual report to the Vice-President, Research before July 31.

Amendment
This document can be amended by the Vice-President Research on the advice of the Community Advisory Committee and the University Advisory Committee.
 

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