Revision to the Activity Proposal Form Process

Currently all research and knowledge exchange bids require an Activity Proposal Form (APF) to be signed off by the applicant, Dean and depending on the value members of UET and the Board.  To date the APF has focused on financial issues, primarily the financial recovery of a proposed bid or grant.  Currently the APF process has been a paper based system rather than one which allows for electronic approval.  This is about to change with one important addition!

The APF has to date not required any sign-off with respect to bid quality, yet submissions of poor quality endangers both personal and institutional reputations. In future all bids will require a dual sign-off one focused on financial issues and one focused on quality.  The quality will be determined by a senior academic within a particular school, typically the Deputy Dean for Research/Knowledge Exchange and other nominated assessors.  This will all be wrapped up in a new paper-free system. 

The redesigned APF process will introduce a formal three stage approval process which will work as follows:

Stage One: An Intention to bid form will be completed by the Principal Investigator (PI) in conjunction with RKE Operations and approved before the PI can progress with the bid.  As part of this process, the PI will nominate a quality approver from a School’s approved list.  Out of curtsy the PI is expected to inform the nominated Quality Approver that they will receive the bid in due course.   Once the form is completed and RKE Ops have entered the details on RED, the Authorised School signatory will be sent the bid electronically, which they will receive in the form of an email containing a link.  Clicking on the link will direct them to the APF Approval Screen to make their decision.  If UET/Board Member approval is required then it will follow the same process and they will receive the link also.

Stage Two: Each School’s Deputy Dean Research/Knowledge Exchange has provided a list of Quality Approvers.  Training is being provided to the Quality Approvers during February and March.  When the bid is ready the Quality Approver will be sent the bid electronically to confirm that it is of sufficient quality to be submitted for external funding and they will approve the bid via link as per Stage One.  Sufficient quality is defined as ‘without causing reputational damage to the individual or BU’.  The Quality Approver will be required to justify their decision and may also provide feedback to help the applicant fine tune the final bid.  If a bid has been through the Internal Peer Review Process this step will be largely automatic.  Quality approval is only required for: (A) competitive research bids (e.g., RCUK, Charities etc.) regardless of value; and (B) competitive knowledge exchange bids such as tenders and contract research bids where the value is in excess of £50k.  If a bid is declined by a Quality Approver RKE Ops will inform the Dean and RKEDO Internal Peer Review Team to trigger support and guidance to the PI to improve the quality of the bid if there is sufficient time.  The Dean will be responsible for informing the PI that their bid has been declined on the grounds of ‘Quality’ and will provide them with feedback.  Appeal can be made directly to the PVC who will adjudicate differences of opinion on the basis of their own review of the bid. 

Stage Three: Final approval is only required if finances within a bid have changed  significantly changed from those set out in Stage One.  RKE Ops will decide whether this is the case and whether re-approval is required. 

For all stages of approval, all approvers will be sent an email containing a link to the bid; relevant documentation will be provided in the link; comments can be added to say why a decision was made (these will appear on the APF); and no log-in to RED is required.

The APF Process is being piloted in HSC throughout March and the official go-live date for all Schools will be 2 April.  The RKE Operations team will provide the PI with the Intention to Bid form.  Jo Garrad, RKE Operations Manager, will provide a user guide explaining the new process once the pilot has been completed.