November 24, 2022

Training and developing researchers

I've recently been working on a UKRI funded project in partnership with the National Cordinating Centre for Public Engagement and the Young Foundation. Together we've been scoping a Community Research Partnerships Learning Programme - in essence a professional development programme that could support support more effective university-community research partnerships.

I've been diving into previous projects on the provision, uptake and impact of training and professional development opportunities for researchers in public engagement. This has included the Challenge CPD programme, and an insights piece that I did for NCCPE to inform the NERC Engage Academy. It's brought to light some simple lessons that public engagement professionals might be considering when designing professional development programmes for researchers:

  • The average (mean) time spent on CPD within working hours over the past two years was 82 hours. Responses ranged from 420 hours to 0 hours. Outside of working hours the average (mean) was 68 hours with a range 350 hours to 0. This is particularly interesting if you're considering developing a year long programme which requires more commitment from participants.
  • People frequently cited that the most effective CPD interventions they had taken part in were those that met a pressing or immediate need—for instance, undertaking management training when stepping into a leadership role for the first time.
  • It was quite common for researchers to cite a preference for action research approaches (NERC).
  • People wanted to work together with others on tangible outputs, materials, or real problems that they are grappling with.
  • They wanted the training time to be used productively and to help them solve real problems or progress projects that they were overseeing.
  • It was clear that having a live project to develop and reflect on with peers would be highly valuable.
  • One researcher pointed to a programme that they had attended which had over thirty different facilitators and trainers all from different professional backgrounds. They valued hearing from different perspectives and expertise.

If you're interested in diving deeper into the research, in addition to the links above, you might want to download a journal article that I wrote with Helen Featherstone. You can find it here on Research for all.