The Consortium for Research Excellence, Support and Training (CREST) provides an innovative model for how to further research excellence and promote institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration. Taking as its premise the principle that quality researchers should be recognised and funded wherever they are found, regardless of the size of the institution, the Consortium builds on the ‘islands of research excellence’ secured in the RAE 2008. CREST is a sub-association of GuildHE, one of the two recognised representative bodies for higher education in the UK.
The CREST, headed by Chair, Prof Chris Gaskell (Royal Agricultural University), Director, Dr Andy Dixon (University of Chichester) and the Research Group, has received SDF pump-priming funding from HEFCE matched by phased subscriptions from its Members. CREST has now successfully moved into a phase of self-sustained funding as a result of its growing membership. The network is managed by Rachel Persad, Senior Policy Adviser (Research & Innovation) at GuildHE.
Through its collaborative projects, symposia, skills and subject-based seminars and Virtual Research Environment, the Consortium works to enhance the research cultures of its 20+ member institutions, and to communicate their ongoing achievements to stakeholders, the wider Higher Education community and the general public. This activity is particularly important given the key role played by the specialised, translational, entrepreneurial and socially innovative research undertaken at CREST Member institutions, which is central to ensuring local, regional and national growth in the UK.
What CREST does
As quality and sustainability is vital in Higher Education research, institutions have to make a distinctive offering; the kind of collaborations that the CREST facilitates builds on existing strengths, and provides new opportunities for research-active staff and postgraduate research students to work together to generate new knowledge.
The CREST offers both an actual and a virtual community for researchers and postgraduates, including: social networking via Twitter and file sharing through Dropbox to promote communication; and a repository (CREST Collections) to showcase research outputs. This allows members to interact and present research within an evolving forum that takes into account the logistical, time and financial constraints facing the modern researcher.
The CREST also:
- brings together researchers and postgraduates for interdisciplinary events, providing the opportunity to present specialist research to a diverse audience, in particular through the Researcher Mobility Scheme, CREST Networks, Research Skills Events and the CREST Summer School
- provides access to peer reviewers of, and potential collaborators for, developing grant applications and research proposals
- supports preparations for the REF 2014 and applications for Research Degree Awarding Powers (RDAP)
- is a signatory of, and helps to facilitate implementation and the sharing of best practice with respect to sector-wide research policy initiatives, including the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers; the Concordat to Support Research Integrity; and the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
- acts as a repository and diseminator of information about UK, EU and international research policy relevant to its members, working in partnership with the UK HE International Unit