Within the context of wider system performance, the HEA participates in a range of initiatives that target advancements in critical areas of Irish higher education research policy.



HEA-SFI Memorandum of Understanding 2018-2021

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have formalised their commitment to working closely together in the best interests of the Irish higher education research system through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding 2018-2021.

The agreement will see the organisations work with each other in three main areas:

  • Cooperation on policy development and complementarity in programmatic activity;
  • Assurance on institutional regulation and accountability;
  • Enhanced sharing of information and communications.

As well as taking full cognisance of the respective responsibilities of the HEA and SFI as set out in legislation, this agreement has been developed within the context of key Government policies, including:

  • The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030
  • Innovation 2020;
  • The Action Plan for Education
  • The Action Plan for Jobs
  • Higher Education System Performance Framework 2018-2020.

Both organisations are fully committed to the advancement of the Irish higher education research system such that it can maximise its contribution to Government policy objectives and to Ireland’s role and reputation in the international research arena.

This MoU will serve as a framework to channel the efforts of both organisations to collaborate meaningfully.  Immediate agenda items of shared strategic interest include: Open Research; Research Integrity and Assurance; Gender Equality; Doctoral Education.

National Doctoral Framework

The HEA, in partnership with QQI and the Higher Education Institutions, launched Ireland’s National Framework for Doctoral Education in 2015. This sets out the main principles underpinning Irish doctoral education and is supported by the institutions and research funders.

National Open Research Forum

National Open Research Forum (NORF) is working to articulate a national coordinated agenda for Open Science in Ireland and to ensure Ireland’s approach is in line with EU good practice.  NORF is co-chaired by the HEA and Health Research Board, with secretariat provided by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

NORF has a broad membership and has been using working group structures to focus on specific areas, such as: open access publications; open research data; infrastructure; and human resources. This has culminated in the development of a  National Framework for the transition to an open research environment. This is the first step in a process to create a National Action Plan for the transition to an Open Research environment in Ireland.

Irish Research e-Library Review

The Irish Research e-Library (IReL) is a higher education shared service that delivers access to over 30,000 electronic journals, databases and ebooks to staff and students in participating institutions. IReL is managed by the Irish University Libraries Collaboration Centre (IULCC) and is currently hosted by Maynooth University.

On the invitation of the Governance Committee of the IULCC, the HEA initiated a strategic review of IReL in 2018, which was overseen by an independent Steering Group. The review sought to: clarify the opportunities and challenges that face IReL; set out best practice in the provision of national research e-library services; and propose strategic options for the future. The review has now concluded and the Steering Group report was presented to key stakeholders at an event in the Royal Irish Academy in June 2019. The IULCC has considered the report and is working to begin implementation of the recommendations.

Bibliometrics Analysis Tools Review

A survey of national stakeholders conducted by the HEA during the summer of 2017 (and a follow-up national meeting on Bibliometric Tools and Resources held in September 2017) concluded that a national approach to the subscription of bibliometric analysis tools should be explored. The HEA was designated as lead for this process and hosted introductory meetings with representatives from the IUA, THEA, and IReL, and the three main suppliers of bibliometric analysis tools, Elsevier, Clarivate Analytics and Digital Science (Holtzbrinck Publishing Group).

A Bibliometrics Tools and Resources procurement / licensing subgroup was formed and carried out a pilot project in Autumn 2018 with all three providers. A number of areas of further work were identified and will be progressed in the coming period.

HRB Open Publishing Platform

The HRB Open Research is a platform for HRB-funded researchers to rapidly publish their research outputs in an open and accessible way. All articles benefit from immediate publication, transparent refereeing and the inclusion of all source data. This is a pilot exercise to explore a new way of publishing. The HEA is represented on the Steering Group for this initiative.

European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

The HEA is one of Ireland’s two national delegates (in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland) on ESFRI. The Forum supports a strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe.

Research Integrity Forum

The HEA participates actively in the national Research Integrity Forum which has been established to advance the implementation of the ‘Policy Statement on Ensuring Research Integrity in Ireland’.

Horizon 2020

The HEA engages with the H2020 High-Level Group chaired by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to support Ireland’s collective performance in this almost €80bn EU research and innovation funding programme.