The Intrepid Researcher Series
- University of Leicester
- Date first submitted:
- 19 Nov 2010
- Date last modified:
- 19 Nov 2010
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
- Research staff
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?
Whilst there are a number of seminars looking at particular aspects or subjects of research at the departmental/ inter-departmental or even college level, what has been missing is a series of methodology sessions available to researchers across the university, whatever their discipline. The Intrepid Researcher series fills just this gap, featuring experts in a methodology or combination of methodologies, either from within or outside the university, and providing a taster session, highlighting the strengths of a methodology, its application and its limitations or weaknesses.
The aim of the series is to stimulate a research culture and environment that provides researchers the space to sample other ways of conducting research or indeed, further refine their methodologies. It is hoped that the series will attract interest from a range of different disciplines and subject areas, which may, in turn, lead to further collaborative work both across disciplinary boundaries and between universities.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
An interest in the methodology is the only pre-requisite for engagement. We have had participation levels of around 65 to a minimum of 25. Average levels are at 35.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The benefits for a series like this are difficult to measure in the short-term. It is hoped that it will provide an appetite to explore new ways of doing things, or lead to collaborative work. The seminars themselves are only the first step -- the ambition is to create a web repository of these methodology sessions with podcasts of the lectures made available, together with key readings, and links to useful resources on the web. Once this is in place, it might be easier to measure uptake and follow-up on the uses these sessions are being put to.
Measuring the benefits is the greatest challenge (please see section on 'Benefits' above.)
The provision promises to continue to thrive for the immediate future as requests and suggestions continue to pour in for further sessions in the series. From the feedback it is clear there are clusters of researchers emerging who would like more in-depth exploration of a methodology. The next step would be to provide support for just such sessions, bringing in experts and perhaps building it around data that researchers might already have collected. This will contribute to the overall objective of honing and sharpening researchers' methodological skills and getting a buzz of excitement going, with collaborations building up across the university.