02 August 2012
By Rob Hardwick
Research staff associations are a great mechanism for linking disparate groups of researchers across academic institutions. One of UKRSA’s key targets is to build on this and connect early career researchers at the regional and national level.
The benefits for researchers of forming these networks are twofold: firstly it allows researchers to share knowledge and experiences about their work and other issues relating to their research careers within a community of their peers, and secondly it enables them to form a collective voice on matters important to them. UKRSA also benefits by being able to engage with such groups and develop a national consensus.
To achieve this vision of regional research staff associations we have centred our networks on the eight existing Vitae hubs. These areas are East of England, London, Midlands, North West, Scotland and Northern Ireland, South East, South West and Wales, and Yorkshire and North East. Each region has a UKRSA representative to lead the formation of the network and to act as a point of contact for early career researchers in those areas who wish to get involved. The regional reps are supported in their role by other members of UKRSA and by the regional Vitae hub managers. You can view a list of our current regional representatives here http://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers/305981/Associations-and-Hubs.html.
An example of how this works is with the London Researcher Network. Our London rep, Christina Fuentes, set up a Facebook page for this group, allowing researchers in the London area to communicate and share information with one another (http://www.facebook.com/#!/LondonResearchStaffNetwork). The Vitae hubs also have their own regional web pages (http://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice/1713/Regional-Hubs.html), but with Facebook groups such as the London researcher Network, the content is researcher-led.
If you would like to get involved with these groups then please follow the link above to the regional associations and contact your regional rep. As I write this we have two openings for reps (the North West and the South East), so if you an early career researcher based in those areas and fancy giving this a go, then please get in touch and we can discuss it more with you. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.