Developing Early-career Researchers

Simone Apel - Researcher Developer, University of Northampton
Prof Peter Doyle - Research Environment Lead, London South Bank University
Dr Margarida Trindade - Head of Science Funding Office, ITQB NOVA
Dr Diana Leighton - Head of Research Excellence and Research Strategy within LJMU

Starting early – engaging Postgraduate Researchers in professional development


Supporting Postgraduate Researchers with a structured programme of skills development and training can lay the foundations for active engagement with professional development at the earliest stages of their research career. In this presentation, Simone Apel, describes the Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme at the University of Northampton and the lessons which could be applied to researchers at all career stages.

Techniques which have led to successful engagement by Postgraduate Researchers include the use of an intuitive integrated online researcher development system, encouraging researchers to develop a sense of ownership of their skills development programme, and analysis of researcher engagement.

Like other institutions, the University of Northampton is keen to streamline administration. The presentation describes how intelligent use of an online system has enabled Researcher Development staff to reduce time spent on administration and focus time on improving quality and supporting researchers.

The presentation will be of interest both to Researcher Development Managers and all those involved in supporting Postgraduate Researchers.

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An Active Research Environment: developing researchers at London South Bank University (LSBU)


The London Doctoral Academy, based at LSBU, has at its heart a Key Skills Development Programme (KSDP) that ensures all its postgraduate research (PGR) students are equipped to carry out their research, and are prepared for their future. Using Vitae’s state-of-the-art Researcher Development Framework (RDF) all research students have the opportunity to take part in a modern, fully integrated programme of lectures, workshops and seminars that are designed to enhance and complement their research experience. All research students create their own personal development plans, formulated to help deliver their aspirations. And each course offered by the KSDP programme is linked to stage and RDF domain in order to provide a clear development pathway that takes each student though to their completion and beyond. The KSDP programme is central to the ethos of PGR development at LSBU, and is also a significant part of the university’s Research Environment, with its commitment to the development of all researchers, from PGR and Early Career researcher through to the Professoriate. This integrated approach allows all researchers to build their own bespoke development programme, and provides a means of progressive research support.

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TRANSPEER: an Erasmus+ strategic partnership for the wider employability of researchers


At present, research skills – largely derived from publicly-funded research degrees and projects – are often not fully utilised by researchers, and, consequently, society at large fails to benefit optimally from its investment. Many researchers struggle to develop their potential within the academy, or to articulate their skills to non-academic employers. Currently, entrepreneurship programmes in higher education tend to be targeted at undergraduate students, rather than postgraduate research students or early career researchers (postdocs). There is also considerable variation in how different countries’ higher education institutions support the professional development of postdocs.

The project will create of a pilot training programme targeted at a cross-disciplinary international cohort of 36 researchers. Participants will include doctoral students, postdocs and supervisors. The international cohort will have the opportunity to benefit from training in areas such as innovation, value creation, conflict management, career planning and funding, leadership professional and person impact, science policy and communication. Participants will be encouraged to consider what actions they can take in their own cases to enhance their professional competitiveness in a range of areas. Significant time will be given to networking, to stimulate cross-disciplinary and transnational collaboration among participants during and beyond the lifetime of the project.

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Evaluation of an early-career researcher fellowship programme combining skills-based training and experiential research collaboration


Liverpool John Moores University manages an annual, competitively-awarded Fellowship scheme for early-career academics.  A distinguishing feature of the scheme is the duality of its approach: supporting Fellowship-holders to undertake activities that meet individual training/development needs, and funding staff to develop new research collaborations with renowned/esteemed research leaders across the globe.  The Vitae Researcher Development Framework is central to the development pillar of the scheme, and applicants are expected to contextualise the relevance of development to their career progression.

This contribution to INORMS2018 reports on an evaluation of the University’s Early Career Researcher Fellowship Scheme (ECRF) conducted in March 2018.  The study is inclusive of three successive cohorts of award recipients (54 awards to 49 individuals) and unsuccessful applicants (34 staff) between 2012/13 and 2015/16.

The ECRF scheme was conceived and implemented on the basic assumption that it would enhance researcher capability and lead to high quality outputs and outcomes that would not otherwise occur. The evaluation incorporates process and outcome elements, considers the impact of the two main components of the scheme on career development, and the implications of not being awarded a Fellowship.  The study findings will inform the nature of the University’s future investment in ECRFs.

Room Moorfoot
Time 15:45 - 17:00
Date Tuesday 5th June, 2018
Theme Researcher Development
Style Panel
Speakers Simone Apel - Researcher Developer, University of Northampton
Prof Peter Doyle - Research Environment Lead, London South Bank University
Dr Margarida Trindade - Head of Science Funding Office, ITQB NOVA
Dr Diana Leighton - Head of Research Excellence and Research Strategy within LJMU