Important notice from the Vice President, Research concerning the COVID-19 coronavirus
Brock University has enacted a number of measures in response to the public health situation created by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. The various offices comprising Brock’s Research Enterprise have put in place strategies to continue supporting the work of researchers. Details of specific research measures, and the Brock response in general, can be found on the University’s coronavirus information website. Please keep checking the Research section on the Frequently Asked Questions page for the latest research-related updates.
All members of the Brock University community are encouraged to follow best practices to reduce risk of transmission. The importance of basic protective measures including handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, respiratory hygiene, practicing social distancing, and staying home when unwell cannot be overstated.
Brock University is committed to building a strong, sustained culture of research leadership based on the foundational pillars of creativity, collegiality, accountability, ethics and integrity.
Fresh, innovative approaches
A transdisciplinary approach to research provides the structure for the type of collegiality needed for breakthrough research that solves complex issues and challenges. Many of our laboratories and social areas in places such as the Cairns Complex are physically structured so that researchers from different disciplines can work and socialize side-by-side.
Our transdisciplinary research hubs, along with our research institutes and centres, bring experts with their various vantage points together to generate truly innovative, fresh, brand-new approaches to common problems. Solving complex problems requires complex approaches and Brock transdisciplinary hubs are taking innovative approaches by working cross-discipline to make this happen.
See the 2019-2025 Brock University Strategic Research Plan for more details.
Integrity in innovation
As they pursue their lines of inquiry, the Office of the Vice-President, Research requires our researchers to abide by the Tri-Council’s policy statement, Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, which recognizes the fundamental, intrinsic value of human beings and the respect and consideration that they are due. Regarding the treatment of animals, Brock adheres to the Standards and Guidance of the Canadian Council on Animal Care in Science; our facilities and procedures are state-of-the-art in animal care.
Tying everything together is integrity: ensuring that our resources are used wisely; that our services are delivered with excellence; that we continue to put the needs of our researchers, and by extension the wider community, front and centre at all times.
Responsible Conduct of Research
Brock University is committed to research integrity and the responsible and ethical conduct of research.
To that end, we have created The Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, which fosters an environment that values the responsible conduct of research. The Policy promotes education about, and awareness of, the principles and practices of the responsible conduct of research and ensures that we comply with federal government requirements in this area.
Brock and the Office of Research Services take allegations of research misconduct very seriously. If you have any questions or concerns about research taking place at Brock, please contact Dr. Tim Kenyon, Vice-President, Research. Written allegations may be submitted in any form; however, an optional template is available.
“The fundamental purpose of research administration is a simple one. It is to enable all scholars and investigators to make good on their research aspirations. My job is to make sure that researchers have the support to do the things that they’re great at. It’s a matter of providing the conditions for your colleagues to be their best.” – Dr. Tim Kenyon
Dr. Tim Kenyon is Brock University’s Vice President, Research. He came to Brock in January 2018 from the University of Waterloo, where he was Associate Dean of Arts (Research).
Dr. Kenyon (PhD in Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, ’98) joined Waterloo in 2000 as an assistant professor, and by 2006, had begun a six-year run as Chair of the Philosophy Department. His achievements include the University of Waterloo Distinguished Teacher Award, and he is a three-time recipient of the University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award. Kenyon was also selected by his peers to serve a term as President of the Canadian Philosophical Association.
His earlier career included postdoctoral studies at University of Alberta as well as terms at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen and University of St. Andrews. He received his MA in Philosophy from Carleton University (’94) and an Honours BA in Philosophy from University of British Columbia (’92).
Research exists to make a difference.
This might look like a platitude; at least, it ought to seem a platitude. But when we take it seriously, it turns out to have some substantive implications.
Is it true? Platitudes sometimes aren’t, but this one is. Whether our research is basic or applied in its design and conception, curiosity-driven or contract-based, we researchers are all committed at some level to the idea that research exists to make a difference.
No funding agency or scholarly institution has ever rallied to support inquiry under the banner of changing nothing whatsoever, and mattering to no one at all. As for researchers, yes, we are a highly varied group. But I doubt that any of us ever got into academic study excited by the prospect of our work never being read, never finding application, never changing anyone’s way of thinking or acting. Nobody ever looked forward to reflecting on a long, productive research career, and noting with satisfaction that it was like it had never happened.
But if research should make a difference, then as both a researcher and a research administrator I have some questions to ask myself. Some apply to me as a scholar:
- What am I doing to maximize the impact my work has among my disciplinary (or same-problem-focused) academic peers?
- What am I doing to promote the uptake of my work by academic peers working in different fields, or on different problems?
- What specific positive steps am I taking to make my scholarship, my expertise, and my creative labour accessible to community organizations and citizens who might find it illuminating and informative?
- Markets are among the most powerful forms of connections and impact in existence; what am I doing to determine whether my work can make a difference via commercialization?
- How am I taking steps to explain my research through popular media and news media?
Other questions apply to me as a research administrator and member of a research collegium:
- What I am doing to help my colleagues maximize the impact of their research and creativity?
- What seminars and training can we offer on effective academic publication – including discussion of the different conceptions of effectiveness itself that may be relevant?
- How does my institution support, not just specific transdisciplinary or interdisciplinary projects, but research conduct in general that invites transdisciplinary uptake and partnership?
- How does my institution promote, facilitate, celebrate, and valorize the engagement of researchers and the impact of their work with community organizations?
- What support does my institution offer for the commercialization of research outputs of all kinds, where the opportunities exist?
- What training, support, and clarity of practices does my institution offer to researchers to facilitate their effective outreach via traditional media, new media, social media, and other forms of mass communication?
Where I work at Brock, there are many good answers to these questions that can be read off existing events, practices, and values. But these remain serious and often difficult questions. They all flow quite directly from our taking seriously the idea that researchers want their work to make a difference.
For my part, I was never mentored in graduate school to think of the wider impact of my research as the sort of thing in which I should take a strong interest, or about which I might even have scholarly duties. As a result, I still find it an effort to expand the minimalist understanding of proper scholarly aims that I learned as a young researcher. And I work at weeding out the subtle but definite attitudes that I internalized from both professors and graduate peers, to the effect that to seek non-academic uptake of one’s work was to show too much ambition, or in any case the wrong kind of ambition. No doubt I circulated those attitudes myself, in turn! Designing my own scholarship to make it accessible and applicable is now an ongoing project – much of it still in the planning stages.
It is not uncommon for academic researchers to be vexed by the low regard in which knowledge and expertise are popularly held these days. People ought to take the insights and knowledge of scientists and scholars more seriously, we are inclined to think. But look: something has gone wrong if we enjoin the wider world to value academic research, while we treat as marginal or impure the effort and the disposition to bring scholarship to the widest audience, in forms that enable its uptake and application. To will the end is to will the means. And willing the means is much, much more than just allowing the means to count somewhat towards tenure or annual performance appraisals! It requires us to design our inquiries and our institutions accordingly.
I am heartened and proud to see how much my colleagues are doing to ensure that research makes a difference. I hope we can continue to challenge ourselves to national and international academic leadership in this regard: to recognize our successes as an institution that values difference-making research, and to expand our commitment to still greater success.
“Our institution has excellent supports in place to facilitate research. I aim to contribute to that system, whether that’s supporting the staff who provide those direct, frontline services, or working with faculty to determine what we can do for them so that they can focus their efforts on their research.” Dr. Michelle McGinn
The Office of the Vice President, Research is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Michelle McGinn as Associate Vice-President, Research, effective January 1, 2020 for a period of three years.
Dr. McGinn was appointed Interim Associate Vice-President, Research in 2018. Before that, she was Associate Dean, Graduate Student Services, Research, and International in the Faculty of Education, Dr. McGinn brings to the position her expertise in higher education, particularly related to the formation and implementation of research teams that cut across subject matters and disciplines.
Her early dissertation work focused on the sociology of science, where she had the chance to interact with a range of scientists and document their work practices, which gave her an understanding of how science works. Her more recent research has focused predominantly on social science research teams and the broader research policy landscape in Ontario.
More recently, Dr. McGinn completed a Mohawk College certificate in research administration co-offered by the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA). This has given her a broad appreciation of the various staffing positions and roles that support research.
Continuing to grow and support the Research Enterprise
To reinforce the research enterprise here at Brock, I plan to aid researchers’ programs in any way that I can. As an institution we already have great supports in place such as the Research Initiative Award as well as the amazing Research Officers and our Research Ethics team that keeps our proposals moving quickly.
I firmly believe in making the research culture at Brock University more inclusive and celebratory. It is important to recognize and celebrate the variety of research forms and topics that we have here. The more I learn about the wonderful research my colleagues are doing, the more I appreciate its vibrancy and depth and the amazing things that are happening at Brock.
Most importantly, I would like to remind researchers about the role of persistence and tenacity, especially when applying for research funding. It’s important to remember that, just because you are not successful the first time or in a particular venue, your research project is still valuable and important; it’s the tenacity and persistence that wins over time.
We have a great support team that helps researchers find different funding avenues to pursue. We encourage researchers to act on feedback given to them by the Research Officers so that they can revise and resubmit their applications if need be. Each competition is a new competition; the more that researchers apply, the more likely that the odds will rise in their favour for being successful.
The Office of the Vice-President, Research supports Brock’s faculty from across all disciplines to explore new research and scholarship opportunities and strengthen existing ones.
This is accomplished primarily through the Office of Research Services (ORS), the roles and functions of which include:
- advising researchers on funding opportunities
- assisting with applications for research grants
- providing direction on financial management
- liaising with national granting councils and provincial agencies in the negotiation of research contracts
- promoting our researchers’ work in the media and at public events
- connecting our researchers with industrial partners and fostering those relationships
In addition to overseeing ORS, the Office of the Vice-President, Research is also responsible for:
- articulating the broader vision and direction of the institution’s research
- overseeing research institues and centres such as the Niagara Community Observatory and the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI)
- contributing to the larger provincial and federal research environment through involvement and leadership in such initiatives as Research Matters
The bicameral system of governance of Brock University consists of two governing bodies: the Board of Trustees and the Senate.
Generally, the Senate is responsible for the educational policy of the University, and the Board of Trustees is responsible for the administrative management of the institution. The Office of the University Secretariat provides administrative services and overall support for both governing bodies. The following provides a general overview of the bicameral system of governance.
The Vice-President, Research delivers a report at the meetings, which are generally held monthly. Below are the VPR’s Senate reports for 2019 and 2018. Click here for reports given before then. (Click on the link listed in the “Meetings Agenda” column; a link to the report is found within the meeting agenda).
January 17, 2018 meeting (oral update)
May 2, 2018 meeting (oral report)