Issue No 7: November 2003
Why does the RGC monitor progress of funded projects?
RGC grants are part of money allocated from the Governments education budget. Like all publicly-funded agencies, the Council has a duty to account for its expenditure. Therefore, it needs to be kept informed of the progress of funded projects and to be assured that grants are properly used to develop and expand the research capacities of Hong Kongs higher education sector. Through monitoring, the Council is also able to provide professional help to researchers who may encounter problems.
How does the RGC approach the task of monitoring?
The RGC believes
that researchers should be given maximum flexibility within the approved
project scope and the established research norms of the relevant disciplines
to manage and chart the course of their research. In this regard, the
RGC does not seek to monitor funded projects at a micro level. Through
periodic progress reports, it is kept updated of current work and the
latest achievements of funded projects and feeds back advice where necessary.
Are progress reports subject to academic review?
Monitoring does not stop when progress reports are received. All reports are reviewed by academic peers on the RGC subject panels. If necessary, the RGC conducts site visits, as it has been doing with projects under the Central Allocation Scheme. If problems are detected, comments or suggestions are fed back to researchers to help them with remedial plans.
What are the RGCs main concerns?
The RGC appreciates that research is about studying the unknown and results cannot be predicted with certainty. Although research output is an important indicator of productivity, greater emphasis is put on whether or not the researchers have exercised sufficient care and diligence in managing and steering their projects towards the stated objectives.
Do institutions have a role in monitoring?
Effective monitoring must start with the institutions. As grant recipients, they have the obligation to keep a rigorous watch over day-to-day work and ensure that research progresses in a responsible and academically sound manner.
Are unsatisfactory projects terminated?
The RGC attaches
importance to prudent project management. As soon as it appears that a
project has displayed difficulties, the RGC urges immediate corrective
action on the part of the researchers. If positive progress continues
to be wanting, the RGC will not hesitate to terminate the project and