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Executive Summary

This report provides background information about the Armagh Observatory and a summary of the Observatory's principal achievements in research and other areas during calendar year 2001. For convenience, all financial details refer to the Financial Year 2001/2002 (1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002).

Staff at the Observatory attracted external income totalling £ 229,000 during Financial Year 2001/2002 (£221,000 in external research grants), and published more than 30 papers in refereed scientific journals during the year, a fraction of their total research output. In the same period, the Observatory has maintained a high public profile and projected a very positive image of Northern Ireland and of Armagh City and District at national and international level. During the year, staff made 76 presentations at specialist and non-specialist meetings, arranged some 26 seminars at the Observatory, and attracted a record 302 identified citations in various mass-media including the national and international press, radio and television. The Observatory is a significant information resource, its web-sites (http://star.arm.ac.uk/ and http://climate.arm.ac.uk/) attracting in excess of 318,000 distinct e-visitors during the same period, the majority (317,000) from the main astronomical site. The trends of various performance indicators versus calendar year, together with total income from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), are shown in Table 1.

Strenuous efforts were made during the year by Senior Management, Observatory staff and DCAL personnel, to resolve the pressing funding problems that had overshadowed the Observatory for almost the last five years. As a result of these efforts, it is a pleasure to report that the Observatory was informed early in 2002 that it would receive an index-linked step-increase in recurrent funding from the DCAL amounting to £150,000. A number of important outstanding questions remain to be resolved, for example that of the Observatory's access to a wider range of tertiary-sector development funds and research funding initiatives, such as those associated with its consistently good performance over more than ten years in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), but the medium-term future is beginning to look more promising than it has for many years.

The Observatory's principal objectives during the coming year are to maintain existing high-quality research programmes; build on the results of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise; strengthen the Observatory's research capability in solar system and solar/stellar research areas; restore and widen access to the heritage material in its possession; and improve the Observatory's access to necessary research infrastructure. The key task for the year ahead is to work with DCAL to widen the Observatory's access to research development funds in order to provide a firm foundation for the future and enable the Observatory to complete its Strategic Plan 2000/2001-2002/2003.


Table 1: The yearly trend of various performance indicators together with the DCAL grant income for the corresponding financial year and the budget for 2002/2003. Targets for 2002 are expressed in round figures.
             
  External Refereed Identified Distinct   Total DCAL
Calendar Year Grant Income Journal Media e-Visitors RAE Grade Grant Income
  (£000s) Publications Citations (DEVs)   (£000s)
             
1992     -   4 457.3
1993 35 13 -     445.0
1994 58 22 11     425.0
1995 172 19 14     468.5
1996 264 45 45   4 480.0
1997 275 42 108 66,000   473.2
1998 195 43 147 80,000   443.0
1999 293 32 233 134,000   458.5
2000 212 31 233 174,000   538.5
2001 221 32 302 318,000 4 713.5
2002 Targets: 230 32 200 350,000   663.5


Appended to this report for Calendar Year 2001 (Financial Year 2001/2002) are lists covering (A) Membership of the Management Committee and Board of Governors, (B) Staff Members, (C) Refereed Journal Publications, (D) Presentations by Observatory Staff, (E) Seminars at Armagh Observatory, and (F) Identified Media Citations. The Observatory's New TSN Action Plan is included as Appendix G.


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