The UK research policy landscape is pretty dynamic at present. You’ve got your R&D People and Culture Strategy and its various responses, the independent review of research bureaucracy, the future of research assessment and the UUK/UKRI/Wellcome Trust review of concordats and agreements just to name a few. I’ve been seeking to navigate this landscape whilst wearing my chair of Researcher Development Group (RDG) hat – the group at the University responsible for advising the University Research and Innovation committee on all matters pertaining to researcher (and this includes innovation) development, as well as ensuring that we meet our commitments under the Researcher Development Concordat.
What I have surmised is that the notion of research culture provides a meeting ground where we can bring together the things that we want to do as a University (our strategy), the things that are incumbent upon a being an institution that cares about its staff (UoP values) and the things that our funders want us to do in order to meet their requirements of funding. Our approach to the Researcher Development Concordat – which was ratified by a national panel last year – is a good example of this bringing together each of these elements. We did three things – we talked with our researcher community to find out what was important to them, we did a gap analysis of where the University was at in terms of the requirements of the Research Development Concordat and we looked at existing initiatives and priorities for the University to see where we could find synergies. The resultant approach and action plan is something that is ambitious but achievable, focuses on improving the at-work experience of our research community, and delivers against other University initiatives such as the Race Equality Charter. It is also bureaucratically lean, and to borrow a word from Professor Adam Tickell’s interim report on the review research bureaucracy – harmonised.
The RDG team, which includes the convenors of the Researchers Network, Research Staff Forum, Readers Forum and Professors Forum, are working hard to implement the plan. You will see reference in the most recent Research and Innovation newsletter to a new induction event for researchers, and there are upcoming sessions on how the PDR process can work well for researchers, PIs and research. The research policy landscape doesn’t show signs of becoming any less dynamic for at least the first part of the year, however, I think we’ll see some major changes in how the sector sets about research funding, research assessment, researcher development, inclusivity, wellbeing and fairness. This is where I can say something cliched like ‘buckle up and enjoy the ride’ but I will resist.