Biennially, QMUL and the rest of the UK HE sector reach out to our respective researcher communities to collect vital information and feedback on the UK researcher experience. This takes the form of three surveys, each aimed at a different rung of the academic ladder.
The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) is organised by the HEA and administered locally by the Doctoral College. As the name implies, it surveys postgraduate researchers and will run in the Spring of 2017.
The other two surveys, The Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) and the Principal Investigator and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS), are organised by Vitae and use a question set compiled through a collaborative effort between Vitae, RCUK, HEFCE, researchers, and researcher developers from across the UK HE sector. These are administered at QMUL by the Researcher Development Team and will run simultaneously throughout the month of May, 2017.
CROS is aimed at research staff, postdocs and early-career researchers who have not yet undertaken an academic research leadership role. This group includes technical and support research staff, as well as staff primarily employed on teaching contracts who conduct research in addition to those duties.
PIRLS gathers views and experiences from academic staff (lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, and professors) who lead research, either individually or as part of a research group, as well as those who supervise postgraduate students.
Broadly, the feedback from these survey has informed a number of services, processes, and initiatives, while providing the sector with an important longitudinal benchmark to ensure each HEI continues to strive to provide a supportive environment to enable junior researchers’ career prosperity during their time in the HE sector and beyond. These include initiatives like the European HR Excellence in Research Award, which was renewed for QMUL last year. This award is externally-reviewed, and ensures that QMUL continues to implement the tenets of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.
Research Staff feedback through CROS 2015 and a series of related focus groups with researchers that ran in the summer of 2015 helped to inform our HR Excellence action plan, resulting in:
- A new centralised postdoctoral mentoring scheme (that will recruit again next year).
- An expanding researcher development programme: we collect information about the sorts of support you would like from the Researcher Development Team and use this to shape our programme moving forward. This section of the survey is slightly expanded this year.
- The creation of the QMUL Research Staff Association, giving researchers a louder voice in the university’s decision-making processes. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to participate!
The response from CROS 2015 surveyed about 20% of the postdoctoral researcher community and was well-distributed across all faculties. Our goal for 2017 is to increase our response from all academic units across the university. A more robust response not only gives a better sample of the opinions of researchers across the institution, but can help to inform both institutional and departmental Equality Challenge Unit Charter efforts like Athena SWAN. If you’re involved in your School’s Athena SWAN submission and want to discuss how CROS and PIRLS can help, please email me (resdev [at] qmul [dot] ac [dot] uk).
I encourage you as research staff at QMUL feedback to us via CROS, so please do keep an eye out for when the calls open in May.