Introduction

Engaging in research and research-related activities offers numerous benefits to individuals, organizations, communities, and nations. It can allow researchers to be at the cutting-edge of developments in their fields, thereby contributing to their personal reputations and their university’s ranking. Active researchers can also help identify and address issues of national concern, and, in this way, can contribute to sustainable social and economic development. It is through research that the quality of life people experience in any given society can be enhanced, and that organizations in the private and public sectors can become more responsive to social issues and community needs.
Indicators of a university’s research activity are many and can be said to include the number of journal articles, book chapters, and books published by faculty, conference presentations made, patents filed, postgraduate students, research-based programs, research centres and chairs, completed dissertations, and so on. Another important indicator is the number and size of research groups and their levels of activity. A research group is normally formed in order to identify and co-ordinate a particular research activity within academic department(s) and, thereby, to promote that activity, solicit funding and facilitate communication among interested faculty members. Because they are often multi-disciplinary in nature, research groups can offer a variety of perspectives on a particular investigative issue and can be quite flexible and dynamic in their approaches. Moreover, as a collection of volunteers who are drawn together through mutual interest in their areas/fields, they often consist of highly motivated individuals who seek to be at the forefront of knowledge generation and renewal.
It is for these reasons that research groups can be a very effective means of promoting research within an institution. Given the importance of research for SQU and Oman, and the potential value of research groups in promoting increased levels of research activity within the university and across the sultanate, the Deanship of Research here proposes guidelines for establishing research groups at SQU in addition to an annual award for the most active research group among academic and non-academic staff.