Vitae News: September 2023

Vitae News: September 2023
3MT23 six finalists

Welcome to the September edition of the Vitae News. The busiest month of the year for us, September brings lots of news of activities and upcoming opportunities. 


Vitae Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 2023 Winners  

Record number of researchers around the world tuned in to the Vitae Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition final 2023, sponsored by Taylor & Francis, that took place earlier this month. All six finalists relayed their research and its significance brilliantly in their three-minute time slot and the topics this year were the most varied we’ve had in a Vitae 3MT® final.  

The Judges Choice Award went to Sarah Warbis from the University of Bath with her powerful presentation ‘Sexual Assault in a 'Just World': An Immersive VR Study of Bystanders'. Ridzuan A-Rasid from Loughborough University won the People’s Choice with his presentation 'Goldfish vs. Human'. Both winners were excellent examples of the many entries that we received this year from Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy (SHAPE), demonstrating how vital the research and skills from these disciplines are in helping to solve global challenges.   

If you are considering taking part in the Vitae Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) ten-year anniversary final next year as a participant or organiser at your institution, take a look at the recording of the broadcast to gain inspiration!. Recordings of all the Vitae 3MT® entries along with 2024 registration details will be available soon. 

Thanks to supporters UKRI, all the judges including those who took part during the semi and quarter finals, and to fantastic host Dr Anna Ploszajski. 


Vitae International Researcher Development Conference - #VitaeCon2023  

It was great to welcome so many of you to the online and in-person elements of #VitaeCon2023. The event was open to all those with a stake in researcher development and brought together a wealth of thought-provoking insights from plenary keynote speakers, a choice of fantastic practice-sharing community-led sessions, and exhibitors offering researcher development related products and services.  

Opportunities for networking and collaboration were plentiful and the foyer was a buzz of activity and conversation. We are proud that this year was our most inclusive and accessible event to date. The plenary recordings from the online element along with the online call to action closing speech by Clare Viney, CEO, CRAC/Vitae are currently available for ticket holders to watch. Workshop session slides from both online and in-person are available now and in-person plenary recordings will be available for ticket-holders to view in October. 

This year we aim to move conversations along from #VitaeCon2023 to gain momentum in progressing policy and practice around researcher development, particularly in relation to the research culture agenda. You can read more our upcoming activities in our Vitae Annual Programme 2023/24 section below. 

Vitae Impact, Culture and Engagement (ICE) Awards 

The inaugural Vitae Impact, Culture and Engagement (ICE) Awards ceremony was held during the #VitaeCon2023 gala dinner and was an exciting evening of celebration and recognition.  

The Vitae ICE Awards recognised the impressive contribution of our community to the shared endeavour of helping researchers realise their potential.  

All nominations were of a high calibre, and we have published the full longlist and shortlist to showcase the brilliant work happening across the sector.  

Congratulations to our winners: 

Newcomer Award Winner: Oli Schofield, Doctoral Development and Training Manager at University of Bath

Innovation and Inclusive Practice Award winner: Helen Matthews, Institute Manager for the Institutes of Cardiovascular Sciences, Metabolism and Systems Research and Microbiology and Infection at University of Birmingham

Research Culture Award winner: Dr Loice Natukunda, Lecturer in Research methods at University of Lincoln

Outstanding Contribution Award Winner:  Dr Saneeya Qureshi, Head of Researcher Development and Culture at University of Liverpool

The Awards were kindly sponsored by UKRI and Wellcome. 

Member benefits

Vitae Annual Programme launched for 2023/24  

Members will by now have received the Vitae Annual Programme 2023/24. The programme aims to equip members with the tools to understand how the changing policy environment is shaping researcher developer roles and will help drive innovation through practice.

Dr Rachael Nicholas, Vitae Membership and Engagement Manager, has written a blog about the focus of Vitae and member activities during the forthcoming academic year. For institutions contemplating becoming a Vitae Member, the blog provides a ‘taster’ of the type of activities undertaken and opportunities to collaborate available. 



Understanding research culture through CEDARS   

This month saw the launch of the Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey (CEDARS) aggregate results. The report slide-set was made available to participants during the Vitae International Researcher Development Conference and is now available to all Vitae members.

On 17 October, Vitae members have the opportunity to explore how CEDARS could evolve to better support their institutions by informing institutional research culture strategies and evaluating progress at our member event. CEDARS results will be made more widely available in due course.  

Concordat thematic sessions

Following the popularity of the Researcher Development Concordat thematic sessions that Vitae held earlier in the year, we are holding a further series of member events as part of the Vitae Annual Programme 2023/24. The sessions will be aimed at helping all members with a stake in researcher development to embed the principles into institutional practice.

Session titles in the series will be: 

  • Aligning the Concordat with research culture activity 
  • Implementing the Concordat in small and specialist institutions 
  • Challenging ableism through the Concordat 

Improving research culture

Help bring about transformative change within the academic system 

Conducted by researchers for researchers, the Staircase Sustainable Working Conditions in Academia Survey aims to bring change to the academic system, through the identification of factors that foster healthy and sustainable working conditions. Evidence from experiences around mental health and working conditions shared in the survey will help recommendations for potential policy changes. The survey is part of the EU-funded Researcher Mental Health Observatory (ReMO), a COST Action that is building a network and advocating for healthy and sustainable working conditions in academia.

New deal announced for doctoral candidates 

In the last few days, the UK funding body UKRI have published a new deal report setting out an action plan to increase the minimum stipend paid to UKRI funded students; support for a more diverse participation in doctoral study; as well as an aim to improve intersectoral mobility.

Whilst there still remain challenges that need addressing such as precarity over short-term contracts, Vitae welcomes the plans that help move research culture in the right direction.


Horizon Europe opportunities 

We are delighted that the UK will rejoin Horizon Europe under a new bespoke deal. We are working with European partners more than ever before and this greater collaboration is, in itself, reflective of the open, diverse, and healthy research cultures we want to see realised. A press release was issued by Clare Viney, CEO, CRAC/Vitae where more about this exciting deal can be read.  

UK Strategic Action Plan announced for Careers in 2024 

Following recent UK parliamentary representation by the Career Development Policy Group (CDPG), of which the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) Ltd that manages Vitae, is a founding member, a new government report acknowledges that a clear case has been made for a new Careers Strategy. As a result, the CDPG is delighted to be involved in a new Strategic Action Plan for Careers in 2024.  

The CDPG was established in 2018 to create a coherent voice to articulate and promote the importance of the benefits of professional career guidance and to embed enhanced career guidance across the education and employment systems. 


Vacancy: Head of Research and Evaluation

Due to expansion, the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) that manages the Vitae programme, is looking for a talented research professional to head up our research and evaluation business. The role includes securing new business, maintaining client relationships and extending our positive reputation, but also managing the small team and acting personally as a researcher within projects.

If you like working in a mixed-methods style and have strong research skills – quantitative or qualitative (or both), preferably gained in an applied social or educational research setting, then we would like to hear from you.

Send your application to Hayley Evans at by Weds 11 October 2023 (12 noon).


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