D7 - “Something just clicked in my head”: Creative Approaches to Researcher Development

Day Day 2
Code D7
Start time 13:40
Room Dorset
Work with Doctoral Researchers

Julia Reeve, Creative Learning Designer, De Montfort University

Dr Ursula Hurley, Director of the Doctoral School, University of Salford

Davina Whitnall, Researcher Development Coordinator, University of Salford

Workshop overview:

This workshop will begin with a short presentation sharing the innovative, arts-based approaches to researcher development taken by the De Montfort University Graduate School and Salford University Doctoral School.  Dissemination of these experiences will include student and staff feedback and will refer to Constructivist and Flow theory, as well as Non-Representational theory, complex embodiment, and Creative writing methodologies.

The researcher development discussed will include:

'Creative Connections': a one-day conference for researchers

Creative workshop series including:

‘Dancing Across the Page’: creativity in critical writing

'Draw Out': a reflective drawing journey

'Exploring your Research with Lego Serious Play'

'Visualising your Research with Infographics or Poetic Presentation’

Participants will then be guided through a series of playful and creative exercises using visualisation, storytelling and practical activities.

This hands-on experience will mirror the techniques used in creative researcher development: fostering reflection, self-awareness and new perspectives on research.

Reflections on workshop experiences will be shared, and applications in participant contexts will be discussed.

Attendees will receive an “inspiration resource pack” to support application of these techniques within their own context.

Workshop topics covered: 

  • Mediating objects to facilitate storytelling
  • Arts-based approaches to foster reflection, confidence and self-efficacy
  • Creative activities to support wellbeing and mindfulness
  • Visual and kinaesthetic researcher development to foster connection and a sense of community, inclusivity and diversity
  • Visualisation of research
  • Communication of research, including alternative modes of representing/disseminating findings, and developing an authentic voice
  • Multi-modal approaches to researcher development

Themes covered: 

  • Innovations in doctoral training programmes; new modes of delivery; delivering at scale, doctoral training centres/ partnerships, Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) and other cohort-based models
  • Research environment and culture; shaping an inclusive research environment; wellbeing and mental health, gender equality and diversity research integrity and open research
  • Continuing professional development of those involved in the development of researchers

Workshop outcomes: 

By the end of the workshop, participants should have: 

  • Gain awareness of key drivers for a creative approach to researcher development
  • Explore the benefits to research students of creative researcher development
  • Acquire strategies for supporting research students to increase confidence in and ownership of their research throguh evolving their own authentic research identity
  • Develop skills in storytelling, self-reflection and creative thinking through hands-on creative activities
  • Reflect on the application of creative researcher development within their own contexts
  • Advance knowledge of resources available to support creative researcher development activities


Short presentation followed by facilitated hands-on activities and discussion in small groups.  Reflections on experiences during the workshop will be shared at the end, and consideration given to participants' own contexts.