All workshops

Vitae Researcher Development International Conference 2014

D1 - Diagnosing and enhancing the research culture to maximise the potential of researchers

Day 2 at 13:45 - From the analysis of the 2013 Postgraduate Research (PGR) Student Experience Survey (published by the Higher Education Academy 2013) it was identified that the ‘research culture’ was the least positive aspect of the PGR student experience. The research culture in this context was queried by four statements: • My department provides a good seminar programme • I have frequent opportunities to discuss my research with other research students • The research ambience in my department or faculty stimulates my work • I have opportunities to become involved in the wider research community, beyond my department This workshop will present, discuss and develop work that we are undertaking to further understand these components of and drivers for research culture. It will include a discussion on the everyday routines and rituals that transform everyday practice into an environment that develops and enhances the professional research environment for both students and staff. It will also explore effective current practice and new approaches to develop a growing and sustainable research culture enabling researchers to reach their full potential.


D2 - Understanding how HEIs recruit and select PGR students

Day 2 at 13:45 - Why do universities have PGRs (i.e. students on PhD and other doctoral programmes)? Do they want more or less of them in future? How do they go about attracting potential PGRs to apply, and then how do they select between those applicants? Although anecdotal answers to questions like these are commonplace, relatively little research has been focused on how the PGR market operates, at least in comparison with the undergraduate, PGT or international student markets. HEFCE commissioned CRAC to lead a research project to depict the complex and diverse landscape of PGR recruitment and selection, principally exploring it through the perspectives of English HEIs. The research is being launched by HEFCE at this conference, and this workshop provides an insight into what it found.


D3 - Issues and challenges setting up the doctoral training collaboration in MEOPAR, Canada

Day 2 at 13:45 - Background Our future depends on an informed relationship with the ocean Established in 2012, MEOPAR is the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network, a non-profit national Centres of Excellence, funded by the Government of Canada. Our network is comprised of 35 outstanding natural and social scientist principal investigators in 12 universities across Canada, conducting 20 diverse research projects, with the goal to better understand, predict and respond to the impact of the human-marine hazard interface. The principal investigators hire HQP’s (highly qualified personnel) for whom MEOPAR provides a researcher development training program. This session will introduce the audience to MEOPAR, our research, and our experience in developing a diverse next generation of marine researchers in Canada. In this session, we will live demo our online training software (Adobe Connect) between the UK and with a doctoral researcher in Canada. For more information, please refer to About Adobe Connect later in this outline.


D4 - Building institutional capacity for supporting research staff in their transition to research independence: learning from the insights of principal investigators

Day 2 at 13:45 - Achieving research independence by becoming a principal investigator (PI) is a key aspiration for research staff and can be characterised as a critical career transition point. Understanding how existing PIs prepare for and manage this significant leadership transition is the focus of a current evaluation study led by Dr Sharon Saunders at the University of Cambridge. This study seeks to further our understanding of the development needs of research staff/postdocs by investigating how 50 PIs in two UK and one European research intensive institutions prepare for and deal with the transition to PI on an everyday basis. This workshop will focus on presenting preliminary findings from PIs in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM disciplines) in relation to their advice for aspiring PIs. The workshop will also present a framework showing how to utilise the findings to conduct an institutional gap analysis. There will also be an opportunity to discuss how these findings can be used to develop new approaches to enable researchers to reach their potential and make powerful career choices


D5 - Cultivating cross-disciplinary researchers communities: the Crucible effect

Day 2 at 13:45 - Space and time are rarely afforded to early career researchers to explore collaborative and interdisciplinary practices. This session will describe and reflect upon an institutional initiative, The Sheffield Crucible, developed to introduce researchers to “new ways of thinking and working, with the ultimate goal of creating long-term shifts in attitude towards collaboration”. It aimed to develop the competencies required to initiate and develop interdisciplinary working, knowledge exchange, entrepreneurial activity and creative thinking. The Sheffield Crucible programme was built on a programme initiated by NESTA. We will present the impact of The Sheffield Crucible, which brought together 30 researchers from 5 faculties during residential developmental programmes, offered seed funding for innovative, risky and cross-disciplinary projects, incorporated public engagement at the core of the funding application process, and provided space to play with ideas, as well as the building of new researchers community. We will illustrate how this initiative, by providing opportunities for early career researchers to build research independence has now become integrated in our vision, policies and commitment towards ECRs.


D6 - HR Excellence in Research Award: Sharing practice - exploring success measures in the context of the 2 and 4 year reviews

Day 2 at 13:45 - A key element of the HR Excellence in Research process is on-going review and evaluation, both internal and external. Over 50 institutions have been through their internal review, to retain the Award and the first sets of UK institutions to submit for the 4 year review are due to do so in September and December 2014. Details of the requirements for external review submissions were published in February 2014. During this workshop an overview of the process will be provided and the process for the two year review will briefly be outlined. Exploring strategies and approaches for effective review mechanisms and sharing practice around demonstrating measures of success will form the main part of this session, so participants must come prepared to share their experiences.


D7 - Every Mentee Counts: Mentoring schemes for researchers

Day 2 at 13:45 - Mentoring, as a means to support professional and career development, has the potential to create transformational change. This workshop will explore issues around the provision of formal mentoring within centrally coordinated schemes and will look at some of the particular benefits of this approach, including the capacity to mitigate the impact of unconscious bias, which may present itself in other development processes. The workshop draws on the experience of running mentoring schemes at the University of St Andrews since 2005, as well as leading other mentoring-related projects such as ‘SUMAC’, the online mentoring platform currently in use with 24 UK institutions, and the ‘Mentoring Scotland 2013’ conference on mentoring in the Scottish HE sector.


D8 - Achieving a step change in the career development provision for research staff

Day 2 at 13:45 - In this workshop we will consider the challenges and needs of research staff in their career development. We will present an overview of the current sector career development provision for research staff and look at the new resources developed by Vitae to support a step change in provision across the sector. The Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) will be used as a reference point for surveying the current and new provision. This will allow us to establish what our areas of strength are, identify areas where we could do more, and highlight areas of good practice. Participants will gain an up-to-date insight into sector provision, and be invited to benchmark their own institutional provision for research staff. The workshop will conclude with the opportunity to create a personal action plan and recommendations for Vitae in continuing to support the career development of research staff.


D9 - Realising Researcher Potential - Introducing the CNA Confidence Need Analysis!

Day 2 at 13:45 - Most training and development needs are misdiagnosed and are actually confidence needs. Recognising the difference between competence and confidence is crucial to enabling researchers to reach their potential and make powerful career choices. There are recognised mechanisms in place to identify skills gaps and assess competence but how can we accurately measure confidence? Many researchers have the skills but need something more to help them realise their full potential. Furthermore, many researchers find it challenging to identify opportunities to build confidence and even more difficult to evidence this in an employability situation. This workshop explores the use of a Confidence Needs Analysis (CNA), how to create a CNA and embed it into existing processes and training. During the session, we identify approaches for getting researchers to explore opportunities for them to practice and build confidence.


D10 - Divergence and convergence in international research cultures and practices: implications for researcher developers

Day 2 at 13:45 - Cross-cultural researcher development is a complex and multi-faceted emerging area. For example, it could include UK HEIs and research institutes with overseas campuses, UK researchers moving internationally, international researchers moving to the UK, and international research collaborations. However, the needs of researchers in international campuses and international researchers are not necessarily all the same.