Following up from my post last month about CROS, this month I’d like to state the case for the analogous survey for Academic Staff at QMUL. The Principal Investigator and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS) gathers views and experiences from academic staff (lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, and professors) who lead on research, either individually or as part of a research group, as well as those who supervise postgraduate students. The questions are composed through a collaborative effort between Vitae, RCUK, HEFCE, researchers, and researcher developers from across the UK HE sector.
We will run PIRLS at QMUL simultaneously with CROS throughout May 2017.
As a caveat, in acknowledgement to my humanities and social science (HSS) researcher colleagues who feel alienated by the term ‘principal investigator’ (due to its prevalence of use in the sciences), I ask you to focus instead on ‘research leaders’. In saying that, I also know that research tends to be much less driven by groups in HSS disciplines, so even though HSS academics may not identify as ‘group leaders’ either, I would argue that there are other ways that they lead on research. They may do so for their own (individual) research agendas, by mentoring or supervising research students, or by contributing to the leadership of their academic departments, for example. That said, perhaps the choice of survey name may also reflect a more interesting (and less contentious) acronym than something like the Academic Staff Survey (I’ll leave you do the maths there…)
PIRLS is both a shorter and newer survey than its research staff counterpart, but by and large covers much of the same areas, and will help to similarly inform QMUL, the rest of the HE sector, and research funders about experiences and career development of Academic Staff in the UK HE sector. It also serves as a valuable tool for those of us who work to develop research staff who have goals to pursue an academic career on where to focus those efforts.
In addition to this, the feedback collected in both CROS and PIRLS provide longitudinal survey instruments that can be compared to a national benchmarks. This makes them a very powerful source of information for a variety of initiatives including the European HR Excellence in Research Award and the Equality Challenge Unit’s Gender and Race Equality Charters.
With the last run of PIRLS in 2015, our response rate was almost two-and-a-half-times that (n=92) from its inaugural run at QMUL in 2013 (n=38). With this increase, along with CROS data, we were able to provide data for QMUL’s Silver Athena SWAN submission in November 2016. In addition, this data was also fed up to Faculty executives and the VP of Research.
Our goal for 2017 is to increase the response to both surveys further still, enabling individual departmental Athena submissions to benefit from this feedback, but also to enable QMUL to be able to understand where efforts are needed to address issues in our academic developmental pipeline. As such, starting in April you’ll see advertisements in your Schools and Institutes, together with email in your inboxes from myself, your Athena SWAN SAT members and your research administrators. I ask you to take a moment (less than 20 minutes) and provide us with your experiences and feedback as a member of QMUL academic staff.