The California Master Plan for Higher Education designates the University of California as the primary state-supported academic agency for research. UC research contributes to the state and to the nation through discoveries that improve health, technology, welfare and the quality of life.
UC has more than 800 research centers, institutes, laboratories and programs, and spanning 10 campuses, five medical centers, a national energy laboratory and numerous specialized research facilities. It has established an unparalleled international reputation for innovative, leading-edge research. All academic disciplines are represented in the research enterprise, from telescopic explorations of the far reaches of the universe to advanced imaging technologies that map the workings of the human brain; from the development of new commercial strains of strawberries to the development of medical treatments through the use of stem cells; from the study of the art of ancient China to the analysis of the writings of Mark Twain. Research at UC expands knowledge in all dimensions. The extraordinary diversity and quality of research at UC is reflected in the uniformly high rankings assigned to UC campuses and programs by every published ranking of U.S. and worldwide universities (see Chapter 14).
Performance toward achieving UC's research goals may be measured in five ways: the quantity of research that is conducted; the academic quality and impact of UC's research; the enhancement of the educational experience of UC students; the contribution to the public of research findings; and the economic and societal benefits that flow directly from research results. Measures of research quality and impact are notoriously difficult to generate, and there is little agreement on their validity or use. Accordingly, after a brief introduction to the composition of the University's research workforce, this chapter focuses on measures of research quantity, including research expenditures and journal publication. Focusing on research finances demonstrates the increasing importance of research at UC, whose growth has outpaced all other categories of University expenditures and which now represents about one quarter of the annual budget. However, these fiscal and personnel measures do not present a comprehensive account of UC's diverse research programs. They significantly under-represent research in the arts, humanities, social sciences and theoretical scientific disciplines, because work in these fields leaves less of a direct fiscal footprint.
UC faces numerous challenges in pursuing its research mission. Other chapters have dealt with the challenges inherent in recruiting and retaining a world-class faculty or remaining competitive in attracting graduate students. This one adds a new challenge -the University does not recover the full costs of research from the external agencies that sponsor that research that they support. Future accountability reports will assess the University's ability to recover the full costs of research. They will also attempt to capture better measures of the quality of faculty research, in part through a deeper analysis of faculty citation indices.
For more information
Additional information on the academic quality of UC research can be found in the January 2010 Accountability Sub-Report on the Research Enterprise.
UC's Budget for Current Operations 2010-11 (pdf) contains information on the contributions and impacts of UC's research enterprise on the California economy.
The Office of the President's Office of Research and Graduate Studies website contains a number of resources about UC's research enterprise.