Sandpits are constructive discussion forums designed to allow researchers to pitch potential research projects and receive valuable feedback at an early stage from peers. The Sustainability and the Environment theme are running sandpits to lead to a longer programme of dedicated support and to grow capacity for interdisciplinary research across the theme. This may include guided project development, signposting, skills workshops, mentoring and access to a project development fund. The benefits of this method for developing research bids include:
- A better awareness of ‘who’s doing what?’ regarding research activity
- Receiving detailed feedback helping to tune any fine details before a final bid submission
- The chance to talk to colleagues outside of your own discipline to provide new perspectives
- Signposting to relevant funders that you may not have previously considered
- Opportunities to see where your own research project may fit into a larger consortium
- Greater exposure to research activity
The first session was held in December 2017, where 6 researchers pitched their ideas to a cross-faculty audience from many different disciplinary backgrounds and at all career stages. The focus of the session was a plenary discussion giving each presenter the opportunity to receive guidance, input and feedback from non-specialist peers. In addition, speakers were able to ask questions about how to overcome any problems or obstacles that prevented further progress in shaping their projects. This was widely regarded as a good mechanism to get wide variety of feedback on potential project grant applications from many different interdisciplinary perspectives.
Feedback from participants included:
“This was really useful to crystallise ideas and just talk to people about the research”
“There were lots of people in the room with contacts and experience”
“Easy to digest for the non-specialist”
Speakers from the sessions will continue to receive guidance and support to foster and develop their research ideas. We would like to invite all researchers who identify with the Sustainability and Environment theme to attend the upcoming sandpit events:
We are also looking to identify speakers for the event in March so if you would like to present your own research idea, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to receive further guidance.