Dr Lesley Ashton is the Executive Director, Research Operations, Coordination & Systems Planning for the University of Sydney’s Research Portfolio. She leads Sydney Health Partners’ Research Enablers Theme. Below she outlines what her team is trying to achieve for researchers across the Partnership, and how this can, in turn, improve the lives of people in the community.
What is the Research Enablers theme hoping to achieve?
The aim of the Research Enablers theme is to establish efficient, timely and cost-effective policies and processes to support research operations across partner sites.
Through our work we are aiming to remove barriers to research; improve the quality of research activities and output; minimise inefficiencies and delays in research; reduce overheads; and strengthen collaboration between our Partners.
What are you working on?
Our main activities over the course of the project will be to:
Who are you trying to help?
We aim to assist researchers conducting research across all of the Partner organisations that make up Sydney Health Partners.
How will this work, in turn, help the community?
Standardising the content of Material Transfer Agreements will assist researchers in conducting research efficiently in multi-institutional settings, which will in turn improve community access to evidence based best practice, allowing individuals to benefit from the combination of many different research specialities across the Partnership.
By reducing inefficiencies in ethics approval and Site Specific Assessment processes we can minimise operational overheads and delays in research activity so that research can be translated into practice to improve the patient’s experience more quickly and at less cost to the community.
Stronger research grant compliance leads to both valid and reliable research outputs that will contribute to positive, mutually beneficial relationships between researchers, study participants and members of the community.
By enhancing communication and collaboration between our research partners we can help produce the highest quality outcomes for members of the community, by bringing together different areas of strength in research across the partnership.
How does being part of a collaborative partnership like Sydney Health Partners help you to remove barriers to enable researchers to achieve outcomes through collaboration?
Strengthening and building collaborations among the Partner organisations of Sydney Health Partners can also present barriers to research as each institution has its own policies, practices and facilities and these are not always visible, accessible or even relevant to researchers from different Partners. The Research Enablers theme aims to maximise collaborations across Partner sites by supporting more streamlined and efficient processes and removing barriers to enable research.
What potential do you see for enabling research through this cross-cutting theme? How can we help more researchers to achieve their goals?
By establishing standardised Material Transfer Agreement policies and processes across partner sites we can assist researchers in moving their samples and data between facilities and conducting research across multi-institutional settings.
By streamlining, harmonising and standardising research ethics approval processes and establishing unified Site Specific Assessment processes across partner sites we can reduce inefficiencies which lead to delays in research activity and increases in operational overheads.
By strengthening standards and processes to support better research grant compliance we improve the quality of research activities and outputs as well as maximise relationships with funding bodies and the community.
By enhancing availability and access to communication infrastructure (e.g., video conferencing, webinars) we can strengthen communication and collaboration between our research partners.