Over a busy week in May we hosted our most recent workshop developing our forthcoming online training programme Advancing your Research Career: Strategies for Research Leadership. The workshop saw institutions from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand come together to share their perspectives, best practices, and further define the course to support early and mid-career researchers in taking a strategic and reflective approach to advancing their research career. The workshop was hosted by Commissioning Editors Emma Gallon and Kirsten Shankland, with Suparna Sengupta, Editor, and facilitated by Maddy Carminke, our Office Manager and Events Coordinator, following a similar structure to our recent workshop in support of International Student Success. Adapted from the introductory presentations from the programme’s Lead Advisors, Dr Shelda Debowski (Senior Consultant, Higher Education Development), and Professor David Bogle (Pro-Vice-Provost of the Doctoral School, University College London), we wanted to share some of the key themes and ideas from their workshop address, underpinning the approach of Advancing your Research Career.
- Central to the workshop was the shared understanding from the participating institutions that the transition to research leader requires the development of a broad range of skills, across disciplines, that are best supported by training. Too often the critical elements of setting up a career researcher for success are assumed to be learnt through trial and error in academia, rather than deliberately and effectively shared at the right juncture of their career to help the researcher think strategically about their advancement. These skills can be taught, helping researchers to navigate their transitions to research leaders, and manage their evolution over time.
- One reason for the need for training is that the Academy is changing. The skills and approaches needed to evolve and develop with it are therefore also changing. For instance, research and innovation are now commonly seen as drivers of prosperity in a society, not just academic activities for the sake of knowledge, and there is often a stronger emphasis on the impact of research. As a result, research leaders will need to represent the core values underpinning their work, as well as deliver excellent research.
- From an institutional perspective it is important to understand that researchers themselves are a key output of research. They are your ambassadors, and they represent the values of your institution. Active leaders need to embody the ethics and integrity expected of excellent research: what they say and do is seen by others, including their team, their networks, and their communities.
- Key to the development of a research leader is instilling the ability to develop the researchers around them, to share the benefits of their experience, to instil a sense of agency and ownership, and to bring out the best in their team. Growing and developing the people around you is inclusive leadership.
- Researchers can be helped to see what is coming next in their career path, and where they can fit into the changing landscape of academia. It is crucial for researchers, across subject disciplines, to be able to adapt, building an evolving identity, a strategic approach, and a platform to grow from that allows them to make the most of the opportunities available to them.
- A large part of advancing a research career is building a narrative using evidence of skills, successes, and research foci. This should include broad outputs, not just metrics, that deliver a presentation of where the researcher has been, where they are, where they are aiming to go next, and what they will do to take them there.
Research careers can be diverse, rewarding and exciting, yet the move from being an early career researcher to becoming a research leader can also be complex and challenging. Developed with our authors, collaborators, and Lead Advisors, Advancing your Research Career will support your researchers as they, and their careers, evolve.
Advancing your Research Career: Strategies for Research Leadership will support researchers across all fields and disciplines to take a strategic and reflective approach to managing their research career.