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A11 - Researcher development after Roberts: An analysis of responses to RCUK's survey of institutions' researcher development provision sinced the end of ring-fenced funding

Day 1 at 14:45 - Sir Gareth Roberts' Review of the supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills highlighted the need for improvement in the development of researchers' transferable skills and career development. In response RCUK between 2003 and 2011 invested around £120 million to implement the relevant recommendations across all disciplines. In a 2011 survey by RCUK, HEIs set out their strategies for researcher development beyond ring-fenced funding. The purpose of RCUK's 2013 review[1] was to assess the impact of the funding change and establish whether researcher development has become embedded in research training and staff support since the end of ring-fenced funding. 75 institutions provided responses to the questionnaire consisting five open-ended questions where they described how researcher development provision had changed since the end of Roberts funding. Strand - All Researchers (practice).


B1 - Researchers on part time programmes: self identity and institutional challenges

Day 1 at 16:15 - Part time researchers are a growing demographic in higher education, and this trend is expected to continue in the new fees climate. However, much researcher development and support is still geared towards researchers on full time programmes and the assumption that postgraduates spend the majority of their time on campus. Part time researchers as a group present a unique set of challenges, issues and opportunities for institutional policy and practice. Developing enhanced support mechanism for part time researchers is a priority for the University of Birmingham Graduate School. Part time researchers reported feelings of isolation and awareness that they could be disadvantaged by the way existing resources were structured. Issues of identity and self-image were strongly present, with part time researchers feeling they had multiple identities, and that these identities were not always recognised or taken seriously by the institution. The workshop argued that this is often overlooked when working with part time researchers. Strand - Postgraduate researcher.


B2 - The impact of doctoral training eight years on

Day 1 at 16:15 - This workshop provided delegates with an early preview of emerging findings from the Doctoral Graduate Impact and Career Tracking study. The study was commissioned by RCUK and the UK higher education funding bodies with the aim of understanding the difference doctoral graduates make in the workplace and the extent to which doctoral training drives innovation and growth. The study was carried out by CFE with partners from the University of Sheffield and the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU). Those who graduated with a doctorate between 2003/04 and 2005/06 took part in an online survey to find out what they are doing now and how their doctoral training has contributed to their careers and achievements. This was supplemented by interviews with doctoral graduates and employers. This workshop provided an opportunity for delegates to find out more about the early results, to consider the extent to which the findings reflect their own experiences and to suggest how the findings could be used. Strand - Postgraduate researcher.


B3 - Researcher development opportunities for PGRs based at an overseas campus

Day 1 at 16:15 - Universities are becoming increasingly international with many UK institutions establishing overseas campuses. Newcastle University has well established undergraduate courses in Malaysia and Singapore. The Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering has recently expanded provision with the recruitment of research students for its campus in Singapore. This initial batch of research students were registered with Newcastle University and received the same personal and professional development opportunities as their Newcastle based peers. This session began with information on the Newcastle point of view of the problems and solutions involved in providing a researcher development programme to students based remotely in Singapore. The merits and challenges of creating a multidisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre in Singapore to provide support for the students from diverse disciplines was also discussed. This led onto to a structured discussion of the issues involved, for UK Universities, in providing equal opportunities for all research students regardless of location. Finally, attendees were invited to share experience and best practice to enhance the researcher development of PGRs at overseas campuses. Strand - Postgraduate researcher.


B4 - Policy developments in doctoral education: Doctoral Training Centres in strategy and practice

Day 1 at 16:15 - Doctoral Training Centres can be incredibly complex, difficult to engage academic colleagues with and significantly more expensive to deliver than traditional training models. At the same time student engagement in them is strong, feedback is positive and the majority of research council funding in the future will be directed through them. In a year that sees a major phase of renewal for EPSRC-funded centres and with NERC and AHRC equivalents in the pipeline, this workshop looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats created by Doctoral Training Centres. It gave specific examples of delivering a Doctoral Training Centre with other universities; and across multiple disciplines within a single institution. It also presened a case study of building an institutional strategy for Doctoral Training Centres. Strand - Postgraduate researcher.


B5 - Is there more to transferable skills development than delivering courses?

Day 1 at 16:15 - Many transferable skills development programmes depend on face-to-face courses and workshops, but is this the best way of achieving researcher development? Contemporary research and the presenters' recent exploration of the transferability of skills indicate that there are many ‘taken-for granted' assumptions that may inhibit the effectiveness of developers' efforts. Such assumptions are embedded in the way programmes are structured and promoted to researchers, through to the way activity is evaluated often reflecting the views of the developers more than their academic context. This workshop explored some of the assumptions informing the development agenda. It was the presenters' thesis that transferable skills may not be so readily acquired and that different cohorts or groups of researchers may need different kinds of development. Further, research indicates that transitioning from academia to other kinds of working environments may not be easily achieved because much workplace activity depends on tacit knowledge that, perhaps, orthodox approaches to development have under-appreciated. All of this presents a challenge to the rationale behind transferable skills development programmes dominated by courses. Strand - Postgraduate researcher.


B6 - Recognition and value, good practice

Day 1 at 16:15 - There are a number of activities, complementary to core research activities where research staff can add value and contribute to an organisation's research environment, and subsequently its impact. Such activities may include supervision, mentoring, involvement in research staff associations, contributing to staff development and training and disseminating knowledge through public engagement or knowledge transfer. These activities build transferable skills which are essential for career progression both within and outside the research environment. However it is often difficult to engage researchers in events and training which are not central to their core research and there is widely varying practice on how the value of researcher contributions to non-core activities is recognised. This interactive workshop explored barriers to engagement with transferable skill development and seeked solutions to overcome these. The workshop examined and shared best practice around formal and informal mechanisms which recognise and value researcher contributions to non-core activities. Strand - All Researchers (context).


B7 - The impact of researcher development on doctoral outcomes: e.g. time to completion, papers submitted

Day 1 at 16:15 - In the UK there has been a change in the nature of doctoral education, whilst the core element of independent research remains, there has also been recognition that this should be accompanied by research training and researcher development and reflection. Traditionalists in academia have voiced concerns that a movement away from the research-only model distracts students from the research, leading to less successful outcomes in academic research. In this workshop, research findings from various investigations were presented that examined the relationship between attending research training and factors that are seen as positive outcomes of doctoral education, such as timely thesis submission, fewer thesis corrections and academic papers submitted. Studies presented in the workshop investigated how research students with a large training component compared to the more traditional doctoral model. Initial findings indicated training elements supported timely completion and did not deter strong outcomes in the form of academic publication. Analysing less tangible outcomes such as the complexity and risk of research attempted, or the development of independent thinking and resilience were discussed. Strand - Postgraduate Researcher.


B8 - Engaging supervisors and students in skills development: Using the RDF to underpin a remotely-delivered Professional Practice module

Day 1 at 16:15 - Since 2006 postdoctoral researchers at UWE have been required to obtain 60 credits of skills development activities during their doctorates. This has been a prompt to innovative ways of gaining credit but has also been perceived as a barrier to research progress. In response to demands from supervisors for a module that is integrated with doctoral research, the UWE Graduate School developed the ‘Research In Contemporary Context' module. This was a Professional Practice module (30 M level credits) which used research-based learning to develop competencies drawn from the Researcher Development Framework. It was delivered with remote access via Visimeet (a Janet enabled video-conferencing client) and researchers included transferable skills workshops in their assessments. Strand - All Researchers (practice).


B9 - Every Researcher Counts: equality and diversity in researcher careers

Day 1 at 16:15 - In January 2013 RCUK sent a letter to Vice-Chancellors in all universities outlining their expectations in the area of equality and diversity and later this year made equality and diversity an area for inclusion in institution assurance questions. In addition the REF equality guidance has had an impact on institutional practices and research staff. In 2011 CRAC was commissioned by HEFCE and the other UK HE funding bodies to run the Every Researcher Counts project to improve equality and diversity in researcher careers. As emphasis on this agenda has continued embedding equality and diversity practices is now a deliverable within the Vitae contract. Strand - All Researchers (practice).