11 September 2011
By Sarah Davies
One thing I love about this blog is that we feel like something of a community – though we are spread across disciplines and over the globe, we all call ourselves research staff and are engaged in the ups and downs of contract research. Like all communities, we share our experiences and our knowledge with one another, in ways ranging from the legal to the anecdotal to the out and out gossipy.
In this context it’s easy for me to forget that there’s a further body of knowledge about being a researcher, and that’s derived from more formal research. The UKRSA, for instance, is doing some research into funding models for contract research; there are also at least two journals which focus on researchers and researcher development. One of these is the extremely new, very American, and annoyingly-titled PostDoc Journal. The other is the International Journal for Researcher Development, which was founded in the UK and which is devoted to “the scholarship of researcher development”. A couple of my favourite articles from the latter: ‘Well rounded Postdoctoral Researchers with initiative, who are not always “tied to the bench” are more successful academically’ (Lee et al); and ‘Postdoctoral research positions as preparation for an academic career’ (Åkerlind).
In addition, journals such as Higher Education Review, Higher Education, and Studies in Higher Education also publish research on contract researchers (for instance, Bryson’s influential ‘Contract Research: The Failure To Address the Real Issues’). And I’ve seen articles about researchers in straight-up social science journals (such as this piece on researcher’s ‘craft knowledge’).
I’m curious: how many other readers of this blog have come across this literature? Are there other journals that I’ve missed? And how useful is this research to you, your RSAs, and your trainers?