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When speaking about a university that has great a research department, where all of the students are fascinated of research and development, what is the best expression to describe this?

Maybe there is a great research-spirit? Is this correct English and are there better possibilities to express this quality?

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Great question, black. Your homemade expression conveys the general idea but it would stand out as something that native speakers wouldn't really say. There are a few different ways that we could tackle this.

The most common in the education field would be to call it a research-oriented university, although this can also imply that they're focused on research as opposed to instruction (e.g., great professors, 600-person lecture halls). For more precise meaning, I would encourage my students in this situation to step away from the desire for an expression and say what they really mean.

The students and faculty of the Cognitive Science Department have a great zeal for research.

Alternatively, zest would focus more on their enthusiasm and passion. The main point is to use a structure that might not focus on research per se, but still emphasizes their focus on, fondness for, or abilities in the underlying pursuit. If you haven't practiced "a great deal of," it's useful.

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    Finally, were you to be writing a guidebook on behalf of a university, I would stray from words like zeal and zest in favor of more a professional, institutional style: For the students and faculty of Cognitive Science, research is part and parcel of everything that we do. – EnglishTeacherEric Nov 6 '16 at 14:55

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