CEDARS taking root 'down under'

Posted 14/06/2023 by 9a4fa0b2-a68f-44ca-95b6-a2b900c1471a


With continued interest around the potential of the Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey (CEDARS) from overseas institutions, we were delighted to catch up with Professor Alastair McEwan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Queensland (UQ), Australia about his experience of running a version of CEDARS, tailored to the Australian audience, at UQ

How was the CEDARS data helpful to the University of Queensland?

The University is committed to improving career development opportunities and support for staff and has increased its investment in Researcher Development since 2021. We also have changed our approach to support for researcher development by placing a much greater emphasis on supervisor support. CEDARS provided us with some insights into areas where we are performing well and also where we need to focus and invest. 

Were any of the findings a surprise? 

The data were less of a surprise but rather a confirmation of what we thought to be the case but also highlighted perspectives that we needed to consider more in future. Examples are the high number of researchers from Culturally & Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds and those with primary carer responsibilities.  

What were the most interesting findings?

It was pleasing to see that our Supervisors a fairly confident about their management capabilities and identified areas where they need additional training/support. It was also interesting to see the areas where researchers would like to see more opportunities in researcher development. Highest priorities were:

  • Managing others, leadership, project management, personal effectiveness
  • Career Management
  • Interdisciplinary Research
  • Open research
  • Communication and Dissemination
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Secondments/experience of other employment sectors
  • Institutional and public policy development
  • Public engagement and citizens’ science

This points to a desire to build their personal effectiveness and managerial capabilities but also highlights a strong and under-utilised interest in external engagement activities with industry/end-users.

Have you done anything differently as a result of running CEDARS? i.e implemented new initiatives to plug any gaps. 

Not yet – that’s something that we’ll be working on in 2023.

CEDARS imagery from front cover of 2020 aggregate results

How has it helped from a strategic perspective?

CEDARS has provided data to inform our strategy in the ‘Researchers and Research Culture’ section of our Research Roadmap. It also informs our discussions with the UQ Senior Executive in relation to employment conditions for researchers, management capabilities of supervisors, appraisals and career development, and alignment of career aspirations/expectations of researchers with UQ’s mission.

...and from a practitioner perspective?

The main impact will be in the way in which we improve the training and support for supervisors and a refreshment of the types of training and development opportunities that we offer.

Can you comment on the usefulness of the comparison with the UK results? 

The comparison with UK universities was useful, although it would be nice to to know how many of those we are comparing with are similar in research scale to UQ.

How did you go about promoting it within the institution?

This is still a work in progress but we are sharing and discussing with senior leaders across the university prior to going out to researchers in March.

What do you feel could be the long term impacts of running CEDARS at the institution?

CEDARS enabled us to generate some clear recommendations that can be implemented. If we achieve positive impact through these initiatives then we should see this when we next run CEDARS in 2025.