The UWE Graduate School are currently advertising a vacancy for a Researcher Development Manager with a closing date of Monday 17th February 2014; this blog entry is to explain why it is available and to give a bit of context around the role.
The current role holder (that’s me!) is covering the maternity leave of a colleague – the Graduate School Manager – so am having to step out of researcher development. I believe it is a fantastic opportunity for a researcher who wants to break into the sphere of researcher development or it could be just the change of perspective required for a current researcher developer as a secondment opportunity.
So, a bit more about the job and why it’s a great opportunity. At UWE, we recently (in January 2012) consolidated support for doctoral studies into a single institution-wide graduate school. This provides all the necessary support for doctoral researchers from admission through to completion.
Skills development sits within the graduate school structure and provides a programme of events for all doctoral researchers across all disciplines. We have a population of just under 500 doctoral researchers spread across four faculties (Health and Applied Sciences, Business and Law, Environment and Technology, and Arts, Creative industries and Education). This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to understand more about the differences between disciplines. I’m a microbiologist by training but I have come to appreciate the range of approaches of colleagues across the institution.
As well as catering for doctoral researchers, the role extends to providing skills development events for research staff at UWE, there are approximately 200 staff on research only contracts and many more academic staff who cold be described as “early career researchers”. This is achieved by extending the offering of the skills development programme but also by running the UWE Researchers’ Forum. This is an important route of engagement with research staff not just in terms of their development but also of how UWE as an institution supports researchers through the policies and procedures it adopts.
As well as providing a programme of events for researchers this job also involves contributing to policy development with respect to researcher development e.g. the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and the associated HR Excellence in Research award that recognises progress in implementing the concordat.
The other feature about this job is the collaborative nature of researcher development in the South West region. UWE has a long tradition of working with others to deliver skills development events for example:-
- The residential skills development course held at Buckland Hall in the Brecon Beacons, last year with Plymouth University
- The South West Crucible programme with Universities of Bath and Bristol
- The reSEARCH careers regional event – this year being held at UWE in the Exhibition & Conference Centre
- A Leadership in Action residential – regional
A growing area of this role is finding new ways to engage with researchers who cannot attend the university in a physical sense. We have been using a videoconferencing system called Visimeet to enhance our skills development delivery especially in a module entitled Research in Contemporary Context. There are opportunities here to think more creatively about how the future might be shaped by the use of these tools.
This blog has helped extend the reach of what we do (and wordpress.com is a really easy blogging platform to use even if you aren’t technically savvy) so a willingness to embrace some social media tools is a pretty good thing to have as a researcher developer.
Hopefully you can see that this job has a lot of scope to get involved in a variety of events, projects and policy discussions which would give the role holder a lot of experience in researcher development. If that wasn’t enough, the job is in Bristol – which is a great place to live and work.