Identifying Research Priorities: Collaborative Formulation of the Unit Research Agenda as One of the Best Practices of JBLCF-Bacolod

Identifying Research Priorities: Collaborative Formulation of the Unit Research Agenda as One of the Best Practices 
of JBLCF-Bacolod

Dr. Emeliza T. Estimo
Unit Research Coordinator

The first item of the General Policies and Guidelines on Research of JBLFMU requires all faculty members to come up with at least one research output every three years. Identifying the topics for inclusion in the Research Agenda is based on the university’s research priorities and its three academic units, with the JBLFMU Integrated Management System Policy and the JBLFMU Ten-Point Agenda as its main points of reference.

Aligning the University Research Agenda with the Research Priority Areas in the National and Global Landscape

The National Higher Education Research Agenda (NHERA), and recently, the Philippine Association of Maritime Universities National Research Agenda (PAMI-NRA), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDG) are also considered in the formulation of the Research Agenda. The initiative of aligning the Research Agenda of the University with the research priorities in the national and international landscape is meant to ensure that the studies being conducted are relevant and responsive to the institution’s needs and the global community.

Other Bases in Identifying Research Priorities

Aside from the JBLFMU Ten-Point Agenda, PAMI-NRA, NHERA, and UN-SDG, ideas for research are also derived from problems identified during the Annual Management Reviews, audit requirements and findings, topics suggested for further research by studies previously conducted, institutional problems needing solutions, and feedback gathered from various groups of stakeholders (employees, students, parents, alumni, and shipping companies/industry partners). In different venues where these issues are discussed or pointed out, notes are jotted down by the Research Coordinator, ensuring that they are remembered and included in the formulation of the Unit Research Agenda. Since JBLCF-Bacolod is actively attending research conferences within the country and beyond, the themes identified in these conferences are also noted and considered.

Working with the Unit Research Committee

JBLCF-Bacolod has a group of professionals serving as members of the Unit Research Committee. This committee serves as an arm of the Research and Development Center (RDC) of the unit, under the baton of the Unit Research Coordinator, in steering and facilitating the research activities of JBLCF-Bacolod. As each new three-year research cycle begins, the Unit Research and Development Center spearheads the Formulation of the Unit Research Agenda that will be the source of research ideas for the faculty and student researchers to consider as they comply with their research requirements. However, the motive of formulating the Unit Research Agenda goes beyond mere compliance with the requirement, as it prioritizes the topics which, when scientifically explored, could offer possible solutions and significant insights that will reciprocally benefit the institution.

How the Process Works

The Formulation of the Unit Research Agenda is set before the start of each academic year, with its schedule strategically set at the time when classes have not started yet. The participants’ concentration is crucial in the conduct of this activity. The isolated schedule paves the way for the members’ undivided attention so that they can focus on nothing else but the task at hand. Since the URC members are full-time faculty members and administrative staff, they are expectedly to be the busiest when classes have already started. Before the scheduled date of the activity, each member collects inputs from their respective departments, which pre-identify the concerns that need to be studied or explored. They bring these concerns as they participate in a whole-day workshop to ensure that they are included among the research priority areas on the agenda.

For each identified research topic or key research area, suggested research titles are proposed by the assigned group or team. As the titles are thought of, the groups consider certain factors when suggesting a research title while incorporating the ideas they have brought with them. The Unit Research Committee is divided into five to six working groups in the workshop, each assigned a topic area. The topic area is based on the key themes in the JBLFMU IMS Policy, the main reference in formulating the University Research Agenda.

Working Interactively in Microsoft Office Teams

Working with Teams as one of the applications included in the Microsoft Office Software Package is a convenient way of working interactively with the members of the Unit Research Committee. Using this application, all groups can simultaneously encode their ideas on the e-spaces assigned to them. The application has editing features; hence, the Research Coordinator can automatically review, edit, and improve their inputs as the workshop progresses, making the entire work ready for presentation when the allotted time for the workshop ends.

This best practice has worked well for the RDC of JBLCF-Bacolod since 2013. The most recent Formulation of the Unit Research Agenda took place on July 28, 2022, in preparation for the opening of the academic year 2022-2023. The activity was another remarkable experience for the members of the Unit Research Committee, who were driven by their sheer commitment and sense of volunteerism in sharing their ideas as they worked collaboratively to complete the task.

We sincerely acknowledge the significant contribution of all the URC members who actively participated in the process. Thank you also to Engr. Roberto Neal S. Sobrejuanite, Administrator of JBLCF-Bacolod, for the gentle push and encouraging words that warmed the hearts of the participants.