Toolkits for developing and sustaining researcher networks

Researcher networks represent a key aspect of researcher support, and for enhancing the research system overall, but limited evidence or guidance for their operation is available. In response to this, the Researcher Networks Working Group tasked itself with collecting best practices from the research community, then synthesised these as recommendations for the use of researchers and research stakeholders worldwide. The result has been: three actionable 'toolkits' and an accompanying report on how to develop and sustain researcher networks.

Toolkits for developing & sustaining researcher networks

Over 30 different researcher networks contributed rich and wide-ranging case examples to the open call for suggested practices and advice. These networks operate in diverse contexts, representing institutional, regional, national and international researcher populations; doctoral, Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and Mid-Career Researchers (MCRs); as well as discipline- and mission-focused groups.

Designed to facilitate organisers and participants in developing and sustaining researcher networks, the toolkits provide:

  • fundamental advice for developing and sustaining a researcher network
  • recommendations for achieving a specific goal with a researcher network
  • recommendations for supporting a specific population with a researcher network. 

Showcasing both distinct and overlapping practices, the three toolkits reflect the diversity of submissions, and researchers and researcher developers are encouraged to contextualise and adapt the ideas in a manner suitable for their specific situation. 

The toolkits also highlight both the external support that these networks require from their stakeholders and the value they offer to research.

We would like to thank all researcher networks and individuals who contributed, without whom the toolkits would not have been achievable.

View and download 'Toolkits for developing and sustaining researcher networks'.

You can discover more about developing and sustaining researcher networks by:
Joining the open access webinar featuring representatives of researcher networks discussing best practices for running a researcher network, taking place 9.30-10.30 GMT+1 on Thursday 15th September

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You can also read blogs covering a short summary of the project: Hammering out the details: A toolbox for developing and sustaining effective researcher networks by Dr. Angela Midgley, Researcher Developer, University of Liverpool and a discussion of how researcher networks can serve as both inclusive and exclusive spaces: Contesting boundaries: researcher networks as inclusive and exclusive spaces by Dr. Nicola Palmer, Head of Doctoral Training, Doctoral School, Sheffield Hallam University.