Research was initially a section of the Department of Planning and Development, which was later transferred to the Centre for Research and Postgraduate Studies, when the latter was created in 2002, as a part of the University's restructure. The Postgraduate programs of the Centre were entrusted to respective Schools and the Research wing was formed as the Office of Research when the Centre for Research and Postgraduate studies was abolished in 2007.
The Dean, Deputy Dean, and the University Research Management Committee handle the Research Office. The Office sources research grants both from external and internal sources and allocates to individual research projects and conference presentations.
The Research Office coordinates the following research establishments and research clusters:
- Centre for Biodiversity and Natural Products
- Undertake research on the inventory, biological, and economic assessment of biodiversity of PNG
- Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Development
- Focus on the understanding of the impact of climate change on resources and communities, and ways to mitigate effects.
- Centre for Disaster Reduction
- Devoted to the study of natural disasters such as tsunamis, strong winds, flooding, and ways to reduce their impact.
- Melanesian and Pacific Studies
- Dedicated to the study of people, their knowledge, and culture to enhance knowledge preservation.
- Melanesian Institute of Art and Communication
- Study of cultural expression and communication and its application to modern settings.
- Motupore Island Marine Sciences Research Centre
- Focus on understanding of the impact of climate change on resources and communities, and ways to mitigate effects
- Micronutrient Laboratory
- A laboratory established to assess micronutrient levels in the population, especially children and pregnant women.
- Molecular Biodiscovery and Biomedicines Laboratory
- A laboratory established through collaboration with the University of Utah, United States of America, for the screening of Papua New Guinea natural products for new therapeutic lead compounds and the validation of traditional medicine.
- Natural Products and Chemical Analysis Laboratory
- A facility devoted for chemical analysis of oils and other natural products for economic and medicinal use.
- Traditional Medicine Database Unit
- A unit established through collaboration with the Department of Health and World Health Organization to undertake surveys and documentation of traditional medicine practices in Papua New Guinea.
- Snake Venom Research Unit
- A research unit developed through collaboration with the University of Melbourne, Australia, to undertake studies on venomous snakes of Papua New Guinea to improve the management of snake bites.
The general research clusters at UPNG in the past eight years appear to address common themes associated with national and global trends. They are:
- Biodiversity & Human Health
- Natural Products Discovery;
- Drug Discovery;
- Traditional Medicine Surveys and Database; and
- Traditional Medicine Validation.
- Economics and Human Capital
- Human Capital Management;
- Tourism Demand and Marketing;
- Entrepreneurial Modelling;
- Economic Strategies; and
- Poverty Reduction.
- Environmental Management and Sustainability
- Biodiversity Inventory;
- Carbon Sequestration and Determination;
- Biodiversity Legislation;
- Climate Change and its Impact;
- Marine Biology and Ecosystems Management;
- Disaster Reduction and Tsunami Awareness; and
- Geological Mapping.
- Human Health and People and Culture
- Diseases [Molecular Genetics of Cancer, Malaria, HIV];
- Micronutrients [Vitamins and Minerals];
- Language and Indigenous Knowledge; and
- Cultural Art and Expression, and Communication.