Research and Scholarship

Credit Language

AC 9: Research and Scholarship – version 2.2

Frequently Asked Questions

How has this credit changed between STARS 2.1 and 2.2?

Minor changes to the criteria were made. A brief description of each individual’s research that justifies inclusion is now required, and the definition of sustainability research was updated to align more closely with the Academic Courses credit. A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the 2.2 Summary of changes.

My institution conducts confidential research. How should this be handled in terms of including researcher name(s) and topic(s)?

The criteria remains the same for all institutions, regardless of the availability and transparency of data. Institutions may elect to not pursue this credit if a comprehensive inventory that meets the full criteria is not available. The full title of research projects can be excluded, as long as there is some description of the topic. 

What information needs to be included in the research inventory?

For every individual being counted towards scoring, the research inventory must include:

  • Name
  • Departmental affiliation
  • Research interests/topics or a brief description justifying the individual’s inclusion

Resources, Templates & Tools

  • Faculty survey template. Ask academic staff to self-identify sustainability courses and research.
  • Research inventory. Download Excel file or copy Google Sheet. Use or adapt this template to document sustainability research and scholarship and, optionally, track contributions to the SDGs.
  • Sample keywords to help identify sustainability challenges (derived from the Earth Charter and SDG targets). Use or adapt to conduct a preliminary keyword search of faculty research interests or publications. The presence of a keyword may or may not indicate that a sustainability challenge is addressed. Additional analysis is required.
  • SDG targets

Example Responses

  • ​​British Columbia Institute of Technology – Good example of effective use of the STARS 2.2 Research Inventory Template. Optional content for UN SDGs is included, along with sample publications and researcher profiles.
  • Gonzaga University – Good example of effective use of the STARS 2.2 Research Inventory Template. Optional content for UN SDGs is completed. 
  • Saint Michael’s College – Good example of an institution-specific inventory that includes information on UN SDG linkages. Good reporting example for smaller institutions.
  • Susquehanna University – Good reporting example for smaller institutions, with research inventory in doc form.
  • University of Cincinnati – Inventory is detailed and includes links to researcher profiles.
  • University of Sydney – Inventory is comprehensive, aligns with counts under the credit, and includes content on SDG research and other supplemental details. Good reporting example for large institutions and those outside of North America.
  • University of Utah – Research inventory is well organized, lists research examples, departments, and research categories.

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Numeric outlier: Response for “Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts research” should be comprehensive. Amounts below 10 should be reviewed closely (particularly for medium-sized or larger institutions)
  • Numeric outlier: Responses for “Total number of employees that conduct research” should be comprehensive. This figure must include, at minimum, all ​academic staff​ for whom research is considered in promotion and/or tenure decisions
  • The research inventory must include, at minimum: Name of researcher, Department affiliation, AND Research interests/topics or a brief description justifying the individual’s inclusion. The inventory must be a comprehensive list rather than a sample.
  • To count, sustainability research must explicitly address the concept of sustainability, reference ecological and social/economic systems, or focus on a major sustainability challenge. This should be clear in the research description or justification.

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