- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- A11/B11 Workshop summary and outcomes
A11/B11 Workshop summary and outcomes
Research staff strand
Redefining the CROS survey in light of the Concordat and other developments
Dr Ann Morton, Head of Centre for Staff Development, Aston University
Dr Andy Wilson, Chair of the CROS Steering Group and Director of Capability Enhancement, Loughborough University
The Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) was developed to gather feedback on the experience of research staff in higher education - terms of employment, opportunities for training and advancement, career aspirations, etc - and was used to help staff developers in their researcher development work.
The recently-launched revised Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers identifies a specific role for CROS in monitoring the achievement of the Concordat's seven principles. The CROS steering group has agreed to revise the existing question set during autumn 2008 in readiness for the 2009 survey. There are several challenges to overcome in revising the survey to meet its extended remit.
- outlined the history of CROS
- discussed its possible contributions to the experience of researchers
- explained its links to the new Concordat
- reflected on its multiple purposes
- enabled participants to contribute to future development of CROS by offering views on how CROS needs to develop to allow it to achieve its purposes.
Originally the Contract Researchers' Online Survey, its title since 2005 has been the Careers in Research Online survey. CROS arose from a University of Bristol survey initiated by Christian Carter (1999) which then was taken up by the University of Leeds. HEFCE and DIUS subsequently funded a project to find out about the experience of researchers. The national CROS pilot took place in 2002 and surveys have been conducted each year since. CROS is now used by dozens of institutions.
The current CROS has many advantages, by:
- gathering information useful to staff developers
- being specific to the needs of researchers
- making benchmarking clubs possible
- its cost effectiveness - costs are covered by its host, the Bristol Online Survey (BOS).
Disadvantages are that:
- it is independently run
- it does not generate overall reports
- good practice exchange is weak
- response rates can be low (wide variation by institution).
The advent of the Concordat changes the context greatly, bringing new, possibly conflicting purposes.
One clear challenge, given the initial purpose of CROS, is that the current question set does not directly match with the Concordat's seven principles. The CROS Steering Group has agreed that it would be useful to revise the existing question set to:
- ensure it will meet future requirements, while maintaining historical comparison where possible
- make the survey more engaging by reducing repetition, ambiguity and - if possible - length
- make the tone of the questions more active, acknowledging researchers are also responsible for their own development
- acknowledge the wider activities of researchers, particularly in supporting others
- support the monitoring of the implementation of the Concordat's principles
- continue to provide information to assist staff developers in understanding the development needs of researchers.
At the national level, it is important that CROS data can contribute evidence on the impact of training and the nature of career pathways. This has implications both for the design of questions and also report mechanisms - a top-level report of national data.
Participants put forward a number of detailed views. CROS should:
- be easy to edit (so institutions could readily tailor it)
- retain some existing questions to make longitudinal comparison possible
- enable report creation
- be more careful about terminology (not use the word ‘training', ‘on/off the job', for example)
- retain ‘definitions'
- be slightly shorter (eg 30 questions)
- limit free text questions as these are hard to analyse
- be easy to interrogate statistically
- be organised in themed sections with a free text box at the end of each one (ie not a single ‘any other comments' box at the very end as currently)
- ask about other relationships/networks the researcher has (including those outside the HE institution)
- address the issue of the range of roles researchers may be expected to play
- retain the quality enhancement emphasis (useful for staff developers)
- consider mapping against Concordat principles, but not explicitly (just ‘for us')
- avoid overlap with data HE institutions would be collecting in another way.
Participants also suggested that it would be very helpful to have advice on marketing the survey to researchers to improve response rates. Another role for the CROS steering group might be to promote benchmarking clubs.
View the A11/B11 presentation slides
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