New AGCAS report highlights key areas of competence for recruiting lecturers
Vitae welcomes a report produced by the AGCAS Research Staff Task Group, entitled ‘Getting the first lecturing job’. The report is based on findings from their survey of experienced academics and highlights key areas of competence that academics say they would look for when recruiting a new lecturer.
Findings from the report include the need to demonstrate an independent research profile, through a consistent publication record and through evidence of securing competetive funding. Although teaching was identified as a key skill, the amount of teaching experience required was highly variable and a teaching qualification was not widely expected.
The report is a valuable addition to inform the debate around research leadership and research independence, and complements the broad landscape of developments in this area. For example, the report highlights the distinction between research independence and personal independence, which could be related to a distinction been research leadership and self-leadership, therefore creating a potential matrix of important capabilities for researchers to demonstrate and apply in order to move forwards in their career. Training and development for researchers in this area is supported by Vitae through programmes such as Preparing for Leadership for research staff, Research Staff Futures suite, Leadership development for PIs, and the Leadership Lens on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF).
Ongoing and future developments in this area include a project funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education prompting research leaders to reflect on their career journeys and what would have been useful for becoming effective leaders of the next generation. The outcomes of the project will include guidance for HEIs on research talent management, and will be presented at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference. A further project to develop and lens on the RDF around the transition to independence for researchers is underway, and potential contributors are welcomed (contact Katie).
Career journey and planning is another area of focus for the report, giving an overview of the perceptions of the survey respondents on the length of time to spend in research before applying for a lectureship, the challenges around career breaks and career changes, and the importance (or otherwise) of moving between institutions. At first glance, the findings appear to be fairly inflexible and somewhat predicable when summarised. However, as noted in the report, the detailed comments by respondents actually reveal a huge diversity of opinion and advice on these issues. As the other side of the story, Vitae’s collection of career stories, from the perspective of researchers and former researchers, similarly reveals that there are many exceptions to the ‘rules’ suggested by this report, and that researchers can tread career paths from academic research roles, to a multitude of careers outside of academia, and back again, via unique and surprising routes.
In summary, this report contributes to an important and unresolved debate around what makes a successful academic career, how research independence is characterised and identified, and how we support researchers to ensure that the most suitable candidates progress up the academic ladder and that every researcher finds a fulfilling career.