What defines research and consultancy at Lancaster University?

Research Services can advise on whether a project should be treated as Research or Consultancy.

Defining a research project

Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.[1]  It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship[2]; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction.

The term R&D covers three activities: basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Basic research is experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view.

Applied research is also original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is, however, directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.

Experimental development is systematic work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, which is directed to producing new materials, products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and services, or to improving substantially those already produced or installed.

The following activities are to be excluded from R&D except when carried out solely or primarily for the purposes of an R&D project:  routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques, the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.

In some cases the classification between 'research' and other activities may be border line. In such situations the work to be undertaken should be discussed with the Head of Department to determine the classification.

Defining consultancy work

Consultancy is defined as the provision of expert advice given on the basis of existing knowledge in a professional capacity by members of staff to Outside Bodies. The purpose of the consultancy is to provide an opinion based on member of staff’s know how and existing expertise. The consultancy will be undertaken by a member of staff under a contract with a third party.

For further information please see:

Lancaster University Consultancy Services (LUCS)

Lancaster University policy and rules governing outside professional activities


[1] 1993 Frascati Manual published in 1994 (ISBN 9264142029)

[2] Scholarship is defined as the research imperatives involved in the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines. Scholarship is made accessible to present and future audiences in forms such as dictionaries, scholarly editions, catalogues, websites, archives and contributions to major research databases.