Refocus Research programme: bespoke support for researchers

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Edinburgh Research Office and the Institute for Academic Development have been working together to build bespoke support programmes for researchers impacted by Covid-19.

Sara Shinton, Head of Researcher Development and Assistant Director of the Institute for Academic Development explains a bit more about the need for support: “In 2020 we’ve faced widespread disruption to our ways of working and recognise that some research and researchers have been more significantly affected than others. With support from the Scottish Funding Council, Edinburgh Research Office and the Institute for Academic Development have developed a new programme to support mid-career researchers.”

A programme of support, tailored to you

So what support is available? Sara continues: “Three programmes are planned, underpinned with a tailored library of new self-directed materials. This will be based online and include videos, interviews, self-led exercises and more. Participants can take modules separately to target development needs identified through feedback or annual review, or follow a path through the modules.”

Here Sara talks us though each programme.

1. Refocus Research – applications closing 19 February

“Refocus Research is a programme for mid-career academics (on grades 7 to 10) who want to regain some time and revisit their priorities in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme is designed to help realign with priorities and vision for the future, as well as giving practical resources to help achieve goals.

“Participants will take part in the modules online, attend webinars and then have group coaching. This allows for a sense of cohort that could continue beyond the life of the programme. Refocus Research was created for staff who are still affected by disruption and other responsibilities, so it is designed to be light touch, but provide you with space to realign with your priorities and vision for the future, as well as giving you practical resources to help you achieve your goals.

“We can accommodate up to 120 academics on this programme. The simple application form is designed to give you a chance to reflect on what you want to get out of the programme but there should be enough spaces for everyone who wants to take part.”

This course is best suited to established academics who have been overwhelmed with other personal and professional responsibilities and want to develop research ideas.

Apply here (University of Edinburgh staff only).

2. Thinking ahead – applications will open in the spring

“The focus for this programme is around supporting researchers to think ahead, explore their career options and help them plan for the future. It will be predominantly self-led online with a co-mentoring programme to support and sustain learning.”

This course is best suited to researchers on fixed-term contracts.

3. Women of Colour* in Research Leadership – Closing 22 February

“This Senior Leadership programme is designed for women of colour, who are at grade 8 or 9 and are aiming to move forward in their academic leadership. Taking place over six months, the course offers the opportunity to develop a cohort of twenty four peers, receive specialist training, hear from inspiring speakers and take part in both one-to-one coaching and action learning.

“We have chosen to focus on women from diverse ethnic backgrounds as they are particularly under-represented in the University and have worked with the Edinburgh Race Equality Network to scope the programme, holding a focus group in December 2020 to get input on content and structure.”

“The context of the programme acknowledges the structural injustices faced by women of colour and that it is not their work to overcome these barriers. The University is also working on several strands of work to reduce these barriers, but the content of the programme is designed to give participants a space for development in their own right and further equip them for leadership.”

Apply here (University of Edinburgh staff only).

This course is best suited for women of colour who are established academics with ambitions to progress into research leadership roles.

*The team is aware that the term Women of Colour, like many used to discuss diversity, groups ethnic backgrounds into one homogenous group. They hope this won’t deter anyone from applying and would welcome better suggestions for the title of the programme.

Future work

With the future still so uncertain, it’s an incredibly difficult time for the entire University community. Sara shares the work Edinburgh Research Office and the Institute for Academic Development have planned for the coming months: “Although we recognise that many of the issues affecting our researchers are systemic and require us to consider our policies and practices, we know this will take time.

“As we start to identify the right changes to make to our system (with the insights from our Evidence-Base project) we also want to support our researchers in the short term. To do this we are working with our collaborators at 64 Million Artists who have designed a series of new programmes which will help our researchers to find focus, make better decisions and to develop effective career plans.”

This piece was originally published on the Institute for Academic Development Researcher Development Blog.