Vitae Open Space

Exploring whether, with current recruitment practices, the best doctoral candidates are being selected and how we can support the professional career development of researchers.


Researcher development from recruitment to completion of doctoral studies will be considered from the perspectives of institutions, doctoral training centres, and multi-centre doctoral structures, such as the Horizon 2020 Innovative Training Networks. Invited speakers will set the context for this Open Space event, including new research from HEFCE and CRAC, which explores whether current recruitment practices result in the best doctoral candidates being selected and how we can support the professional career development of researchers throughout. In what innovative ways could we together address the challenges in professional development of researchers to match our aspirations in recruitment, equality of opportunity, and excellence in professional development provision?

Event overview

In recognition of the potential benefits of bringing together different perspectives and seeking a common ground in researcher development, Vitae is providing a unique opportunity for all those who support researchers to come together in a dynamic ‘Open Space’ discussion to address the overarching theme ‘how can we, together, support researchers, ensuring an equality of professional development provision for all, in light of the changing structures for doctoral education, such as doctoral training centres?’

Funding is increasingly focusing on cohort approaches to doctoral training and the importance of individual career development planning, for example, in centres of doctoral training, doctoral training partnerships, and the Horizon 2020 innovative training networks. Challenges for institutions are the integration of these structures within the current research degree landscape such that they ensure an equality of provision for all.

The grand challenge for this Open Space is to explore similarities and differences in roles, responsibilities and language for researcher development across structures and along the researcher journey, and to explore new ways of working together proactively to help achieve excellence in the professional development of researchers, particularly in light of recent research, which, taken together, maps out the doctoral researcher pipeline and provides insights into recruitment, information needs and career intentions of doctoral researchers. The discussion will be centered on sharing experiences and identifying collaborative and innovative ways to help researchers manage their careers within a complex and changing landscape of choice and opportunity.

Outline of the Open Space

The day will start with stimulating and thought provoking presentations by invited speakers, from which participants can share thoughts on the question ‘what I would like to know is...’ followed by the opportunity to discuss in a dynamic open forum and concluded with a review and action planning.

Through developing relationships and networks, and exploring those skills that they feel are essential to researcher development and innovation now and in the immediate future, participants will gain a greater understanding of:

  • How they can work together to add value to researcher professional development through partnership in researcher development, supporting research activity, and helping to build researcher capabilities and careers.
  • Skills, roles and responsibilities of professional colleagues which are complementary to their own
  • Ways to communicate their own skills, roles and responsibilities to colleagues in research and research management and administration
  • How to establish new mutually beneficial partnerships to achieve common goals
  • How to shape and influence thinking around the future of researcher development and research support

As an open space event, participants will be guided to define for themselves the topics they would like to discuss on the day. All attendees will have the opportunity to understand the methodology of Open Space, a skill they can take away and implement in their places of work. Facilitated by Dr Kevin Byron, this will be a dynamic opportunity to define needs and identify collaborative opportunities

‘Recruited researchers will play an active role in shaping their own training programme and professional development. They will establish, together with their personal supervisor(s), an individual Career Development Plan.’

H2020 work programme 2014-15