- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- A10/B10 Workshop summary and outcomes
A10/B10 Workshop summary and outcomes
Research staff strand
Working with PIs to develop research staff
Richard Churcher, Management Development Adviser, University College London and Dr Jane Wellens, Educational Developer (Research), University of Leicester
This session explored the role that principal investigators and project managers play in supporting researcher development. It considered how principal investigators can be encouraged and supported to develop their people management skills, in particular, using management tools such as appraisal. The session also gave participants the chance to contribute to the development of a resource specifically for principal investigators.
Recent initiatives for principal investigator development
With no specific funding stream for principal investigator development, progress has been slower than for researcher development. Of course, using Roberts funding to hone leadership and management skills will be a sound investment for many, including those that become principal investigators.
Pump-priming for principal investigator development has been provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England - HEFCE (Local Governance and Management Fund) project: Establishing and Meeting the Leadership and Development Needs of Principal Investigators. Phase One (2006) involved:
• Identifying the leadership and development needs of principle investigators
• producing a template for institutions to use in benchmarking their current support to principle investigators
• developing online resources for new or inexperienced principal investigators.
Phase Two (2007-08) focused on further online resources and case studies; enabled institutions to adapt the resources to meet local needs; piloted action learning; and is evaluating the outcomes.
The (separately funded) Research Leaders Survey delivered as a Bristol online survey encouraged PI s to identify their training needs. HE institutions have been responding independently to those needs.
Principal Investigator leadership and management issues in practice
The Research Leaders Survey found that 61% of PIs/research leaders have not pursued any formal or informal learning/training relating to the leadership and management of research.
The work of the HEFCE-funded project strongly suggests that in order to engage PIs in leadership and management the real key is to provide proof that these processes link clearly to research productivity (RAE success, publications and citations). Collecting evidence, by HE institutions and others, is therefore vital.
Principal investigator development at UCL and Leicester
The consistent message sent out at both HE institutions is that Principal Invetigators are leaders and managers and that they require specific skills and competences. In the absence of a ‘magic bullet', UCL and Leicester are building on existing approaches, particularly appraisal processes.
Developing the principle investigator online resource
The Concordat gives a central role to appraisal in providing effective support for researchers. A key aspect of appraisal is that both parties benefit. Focusing on researcher appraisal is also fruitful because uptake is growing and it is part of existing staff processes; there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Appraisal also gives a clear signal of researchers' importance to the organisation.
The 2005-06 Research Leaders Survey found that appraisers and appraisees often had different perspectives: Principal Investigators seemed to consider all aspects of appraisal more useful than research staff did. It is important to explore these disparities when developing the new resource. The online resource will cover:
- Overview of Appraisal
- Benefits of appraisal
- Focus on PIs' role in appraisal
- Skills required of you
- Setting agendas and priorities for meetings
- Follow up
- Case studies.
Participants were then invited to help develop scenarios for the researcher case studies.
Participants stressed the importance of research staff and PI development taking place as a partnership between the parties.
The workshop identified the need for HE institutions to identify and share examples of good practice by PIs and institutions in leading and managing research staff. In particular the discussions highlighted that there were considerable variations in the models used for appraisal and performance management within the sector. Sharing practice in these areas and identifying common features of good practice would be particularly beneficial in supporting PIs and research staff, particularly when they were moving between institutions with different approaches to these issues.
View the A10/B10 presentation slides
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