Issue No 7: November 2003
Special fund for SARS research
Q&A: The purpose of monitoring
Work on forensic DNA improves clarity of the probability factor
A closer look at meromorphic functions
Optimisation for production schedules
Reducing interference on mobile phones
Mathematical theory of fluids gives designers data on virtual models
Equation that can predict spots on a seashell
Research shows that filters for sound and images are correct
Short cut to finding best delivery route

Why does the RGC monitor progress of funded projects?

RGC grants are part of money allocated from the Government’s 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 Kong’s 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.

RGC subject panel members plug into laptops in a trial to increase productivity in proposal scrutiny.

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 RGC’s 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 retrieve funding.