The Charter of Sultan Qaboos University promulgated by Royal Decree No. (71/2006) identifies three broad research objectives. These are to:
(1) Conduct basic and applied research and studies for the benefit of society, in particular to seek scientific and practical solutions for economic and social problems.
(2) Relate research and studies to the overall development plans and the future vision of the Omani society in general.
(3) Prepare generations of Omani researchers, experts and scientists in various branches of science, arts and humanities, who are capable of systematic creative work.
These Regulations supersede the March 2001 “Guidelines for Research Grants, Contracts and Consulting”. They are intended to administer funded research and consultancy activities at Sultan Qaboos University, in line with the University’s Mission and its long-term Vision for Research and Community Services. Terms and responsibilities of the various stakeholders are clarified to avoid misinterpretation of the terminology and to ensure that the required processes of research and consultancy activities are properly defined. The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research (DVC PSR) is responsible for the implementation of these regulations and procedures.
SQU aspires to be a regional research leader, recognised internationally.
The research mission of SQU is to develop a research culture and capacity, generate knowledge and find solutions for strategic issues in Oman.
The University houses the highest concentration of qualified people and the greatest diversity of advanced research facilities in the Sultanate. Promoting research activities at the University will develop local know-how that is most capable of addressing problems unique to the Sultanate or the Region. The policies and procedures stated in this document are to provide a framework for research projects in the University, while meeting the six core goals as defined in the University research strategy:
1) To develop a vibrant research culture at SQU by creating an enabling academic environment. Research will be strongly supported by flexible management and good infrastructure. Increased research funding from external sources, including contracts and consultancies and a transparent and equitable system for distributing internal funds are essential.
2) To build capacity through training, postgraduate programs, development of research teams and exchange of visiting scholars. In this, strong PhD programs are essential as well as a commitment to staff development and international exchange.
3) To encourage academic excellence in the humanities and the basic and applied sciences, building on recognised strengths and expanding international links and cooperation. This will increase the pool of outstanding researchers and also invigorate undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.
4) To address Oman's strategic needs by focusing on key areas of national interest. In doing this, partnerships will be developed with the Research Council and relevant stakeholders to generate and apply knowledge.
5) To pursue interdisciplinary research that will develop holistic solutions to national and global challenges/problems. This will enable individuals to form teams to address problems that cross disciplinary boundaries. It will also enhance research networking and collaboration nationally and internationally.
6) To promote innovation by encouraging and protecting intellectual property development, effective technology and knowledge transfer and partnerships with the private and public sectors to fully harness the commercial potential of research at SQU.
Research and Consultancy Funding Schemes
Funding of research and consultancy is required to cover the costs of the resources that are needed to perform these activities. The funds may be derived from University resources and revenues (internal) or from external sources within and outside the country. In this document, research and consultancy activities are categorised by the main source of funding as follows:
Internal Grants (IG)
Internal grants are derived from the University’s annual budget and other internal resources, as well as unconditional research donations made to the University by outside bodies, without stipulating specific restrictions on the research topic. Internal grants are used to support academic research which is expected to yield original results or findings that generate new knowledge and to develop concepts consistent with the research and educational objectives of the University. Results obtained are also likely to generate interest in a subsequent research project of a broader scope to be considered from other funds.
Joint Grants (JG)
The University may allocate a budget to match funds from other institutions to form a Joint Grants Fund to jointly support a research program. This type of research grant is governed by a signed research agreement with the other institution.
His Majesty’s Trust Fund (HMTF) Grants
The generous funds donated by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos are used to support long-term multidisciplinary strategic research projects of importance to the Sultanate. The aim of such projects is to generate new knowledge and discoveries leading to substantial socio-economic benefits to Omani society in the long run. Researchers are expected to obtain major results and identify anticipated direct benefits to prospective users. This type of research is expected to help the University build an infrastructure for “centres of excellence” in vital areas, in addition to making a solid contribution to the advancement of University’s academic programs. This type of research should generally go along with the Sultanate's long term planning goals.
The Research Council (TRC) Grants
Faculty are encouraged to seek funding from The Research Council. Under this scheme, projects may be funded through the open research grants or strategic grants. Open research grants are funds for academic research. They are considered a key driver of wealth and social progress and are instrumental in producing new knowledge leading to future applications, markets or social understanding. Strategic grants support strategic research activities and aim to gain or consolidate leadership in key areas. They must relate to themes identified by the Research Council as the most important fields of knowledge, where research capacity and excellence are particularly important to improve Oman’s ability to address the social, economic, public health and environmental challenges of the future.
External Grants (EG)
External grants are received from sponsors, such as national, regional and international agencies, industry, individuals and philanthropic organisations, to support academic research in certain specific fields. The Deanship of Research gathers information on such donations and disseminates it to Colleges and Research Centres, for circulation to researchers. In some cases the researcher may apply directly to the sponsor. However, the Deanship’s approval has to be obtained.
Consultancy Services (CS)
Industry and business from the private and public sectors stand to benefit from University’s know-how and technical facilities through consultancy activities sponsored by them. This typically involves applied research for problem solving and in some cases systematic development of new knowledge for the benefit of the sponsor, to address current problems (threats), create new opportunities, or sometimes encounter unexpected discoveries. The experience gained contributes to the advancement of the University’s research capabilities and academic programs, making them more relevant to addressing major social and economic problems of the Sultanate, while building stronger research ties with various sectors. It also creates an innovative and entrepreneurial environment at the University for generating intellectual property, with commercial potential that would promote a new knowledge-based industry, create local employment, and bring additional revenues to the University from licensing royalties. In addition, in some colleges these activities improve the prospect for future employment of research students by sponsoring organisations. Besides expertise, the nature of the project may also require the use of University facilities.
Criteria/Requirements for Research Proposals and consultancy Services
The criteria and requirements for research proposals and consultancy requests vary, depending on the funding agency. There are generic criteria that guide investigators in the write-up of research proposals, and these are used by the University to prioritise Internal Grants proposals. Other University-administered research proposals (Joint Grants and HM Research Trust Funds proposals) will have additional criteria and requirements. Funding sources (External Grants, The Research Council, and Consultancy Services) may have their own criteria. The provisions of these regulations state the generic as well as the additional criteria.