The Health Sciences Research Unit: Nursing, hereinafter referred to as UICISA: E, is a monodisciplinary research unit hosted by the Nursing School of Coimbra (Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra - ESEnfC) – an institution that is heir to the most ancient Nursing School in Portugal and is in the forefront of nursing education and research in Portugal.
The UICISA: E is a research unit assessed, accredited and funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) since 2004. The last assessment in 2013 was a joint collaboration between the FCT and the European Science Foundation (ESF).
History of the Unit’s external evaluation since 2004:
Over the past 10 years, the Unit has applied for external evaluation by the FcT on a regular basis.
Some key ideas resulting from the evaluation process are presented below:
“…This is an ambitious and exciting undertaking from a group that is proceeding impressively to develop the potential for being an important research centre…” Panel 2004 – FAIR;
“…this Unit is young and active, and continues its dynamic development with many notable achievements. They also provide important resources for the development of nursing science in the country…” Panel 2008 – Good;
Project: PEst-OE/SAU/UI0742/2011."The proposed scientific objectives were well exceeded in every single aspect. The project contributed to the training of young researchers and the international projection of the team involved." (National panel, 2013);
As a result of the evaluation of R&D Units conducted by the FCT in collaboration with the ESF, the Unit was rated as Good, with the possibility of accessing restructuring support funds:
“... The panel believes that this Unit can be strong… international exposure must be increased” (2013).
The Unit’s organization is rooted in agreements of commitment between people and a strong and coherent dynamics of guiding principles, criteria and procedures, duly explained in its Statutes, approved by the Scientific Board and included in the Researcher’s Guide click here (portuguese version).
These mechanisms ensure both the quality of the research being produced, disseminated and implemented, and the compliance with ethical principles. The dynamics of engagement and cooperation between the groups is ensured by the Unit’s Scientific Coordinator (with the collaboration of the Group Coordinators and the Scientific Committee) who guarantees the implementation of quality and excellence assurance mechanisms, the Unit’s stability and the consistency of scientific productivity.
The functions of the Unit’s management boards are clearly laid out in the Statutes. The Scientific Coordinator takes on the responsibilities (which are defined and regulated by the FCT) for leading an accredited Research Unit, in accordance with the Statutes and the Strategic Plan of the Host Institution and the cooperation agreement between the Host Institution and the FCT. According to the Statutes, the Scientific Board, as a regulatory body of the development policies, is composed of the Scientific Coordinator, the Unit’s Integrated PhD Researchers, a representative of the collaborating researchers, and a member of the Administrative Committee appointed by the Unit. The Scientific Committee is composed of the Unit’s Scientific Coordinator, who presides over and is responsible for the Unit’s scientific management, the coordinators of the research cluster of the University of Minho (UICISA: E - UM), the coordinators of the research groups and two researchers appointed by the Unit’s Scientific Board. The Administrative Committee is responsible for the Unit’s economic and financial management and promotes funding application processes for the research activities. The External Scientific Advisory Committee, which is composed according to FCT guidelines, follows-up on the development policies, analyses results and makes recommendations to be included in the annual scientific reports submitted to the FCT. The Research Unit also has an Ethics Committee that ensures the observance of ethical standards in the scientific knowledge produced and disseminated by the Research Unit and the School. This Committee has five members, including three who are external to the Institution (http://ui.esenfc.pt/ui/?module=ui&target=page&id=11663).
To accomplish its goals, the UICISA: E relies on full-time administrative support human resources and is provided with facilities for in-house activities (conference room, an individual room for each project, a training room, an office for scientific editing, an area dedicated to the Portugal Centre for Evidence Based Practice, and the administrative secretariat). It also has access to international databases and different infrastructures for the experimental components (simulation labs, process management, resources in partnership with experimental research centers, and access to services of relevant clinical activity). These infrastructures and equipment represent a strong investment by the host institution, making it possible for the groups to develop experimental, oriented and applied research.