Sheffield Research Leaders Programme
- University of Sheffield
- Yorkshire and North East
- Date first submitted:
- 24 Nov 2009
- Date last modified:
- 26 Nov 2009
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
The University strategy is to ensure that its future “research leaders” are equipped with the knowledge and skills to make them more effective in their roles. Research leadership training is nevertheless transferable, and another aim is to demonstrate to employers that researchers understand and have leadership skills, to ensure that they are more competitive in the job marketplace, and will act as advocates for the Sheffield researcher.
The main provision is leadership training including career benchmarking, understanding leadership (including a “research leadership challenge in teams”), self awareness, presentation and communication skills. The broader programme also provided generic project management training, and sessions providing an understanding of research in academia and other sectors.
To enable early career researchers to:
· build their knowledge of the research context
· develop a variety of transferable skills
· to understand leadership roles, and the importance of leadership for research
· participate in a range of opportunities for their own career management
Through building their skills and understanding, programme participants improve their personal effectiveness and ability to manage projects and teams, work more successfully in their current research environment and gain an understanding of other research environments and manage their career development.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
The activities were available to final year research students and early career researchers across the University. Between 10 and 35 participants attended each individual workshop and in total the programme of workshops had over 300 participants per annum in 2007/8 and 2008/9. A four module leadership programme targeted specifically at aspiring research leaders (those aspiring to fellowships or “fast track” academia), was run twice in 2008/9 for a total of 32 people.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The benefits of the programme have been measured through feedback and follow up after the sessions. Participants have reported changes in behaviour and increased understanding of what they do and where they are going as a result of the training. Many academic Heads of Department have recommended the training through annual review.
Whilst workshops could be taken on a stand alone basis and were repeated, making the programme easy to access, certain elements were a compulsory programme over several months, and the benefit of this is that impact of the training can be ramped up and have more impact geared to researcher needs, rather than stand alone workshops with less follow up with individuals.
A key challenge was providing a generic programme but making it relevant and attractive to researchers from all disciplines. For this reason, some of the training used material (e.g. case studies) that was discipline specific and workshops were targeted at specific audiences (e.g. arts and humanities, engineering and science).
Restructuring of the University means that this activity (particularly discipline specific activity) may be provided within faculties in the longer term.