Building up the Research Capacity of an Open and Flexible Learning Institution

Billy T M Wong, Beryl Y Y Wong and Kam Cheong Li
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

This paper presents an institution-wide programme for building up the research capacity of the Open University of Hong Kong, a teaching institution offering open and flexible programmes. The University is keen to excel in teaching through research which has the strategic value of keeping its academics active in scholarly activity and informing their teaching. The programme began with a needs analysis to determine the specific factors that favour or discourage academics’ involvement in research. The analysis involved a total of 17 academics from diverse disciplines who had taken part in different levels of research activity. In the three focus group interviews held, the participants were asked about the perceived barriers to research; their views on enhancing the research culture; and their need for research support.

Based on the findings of the needs analysis, the programme for research capacity-building was designed and implemented. It covers three major areas: (1) research promotion – developing an institutional research culture and enhancing the knowledge of academics about research; (2) research facilitation – delivering efficient research administrative support and providing consultation services; and (3) research orientation – helping the University to position its research and to develop a sustainable research environment. Details of the programme include a broad range of academic events and activities, such as seminars, workshops and regular roundtable meetings; an e-newsletter on research; an online platform of research resources; and an enhanced research administration system. This paper also discusses how the programme addresses academics’ research support needs and the challenges faced during its implementation.