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Research staff come together virtually for annual conference

19 Nov 2021

This year's conference took place on 15 November

Our annual Research Staff Conference focused on celebrating and developing researchers, giving attendees the opportunity to discuss research culture, leadership and take part in interactive career development workshops.

Banji Adewumi, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, opened the conference chairing the roundtable discussion asking researchers, PIs, senior leaders and funders what research culture means to them and their  perspective on how we can work together to create a supportive research environment and culture.

Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research, commented: “Since COVID-19 we have lost out on many corridor conversations where we can network and discuss issues with our peers….one key action to take away is that improving research culture is not a one person job, we need all of you to use your voice - to ask questions, make suggestions and offer ways you might contribute so that what we have discussed today starts to shape and enhance our research culture and working environment.”

The conference also showcased the Research Staff Excellence Award winners, giving them an opportunity to pitch their research ideas to their peers.  Interactive workshops allowed attendees to develop their skills in areas such as writing with impact, developing a narrative CV, handling academic rejection and getting everything done.

Professor Linda Evans, Professor of Education and Associate Dean for Academic and Research Staff Development, Faculty of Humanities, delivered an insightful and thought-provoking keynote on leadership, encouraging attendees to consider leadership as “fundamentally about influence and influencing others. We all do this, often multiple times throughout the day, and in turn, we are influenced by others multiple times also… leadership arises through engagement with influential colleagues within one’s own academic discipline.”

Professor Melissa Westwood, Associate Vice-President for Research, closed the conference with a discussion with Dana Gamble from Universities UK, about the Researcher Development Concordat and its impact on researchers at Manchester. “We have an ambitious Concordat action plan for 2021-23 with actions ranging from improving communications to introducing new training and development opportunities. One immediate priority is working with PIs as we recognise the crucial role they play in supporting their researchers and in creating a positive working environment.”

If research staff have any questions or suggestions for improving research culture at the University, please feel free to submit them to ResDev@Manchester.ac.uk or contact your Faculty Research Staff representative.