New Guidance to Support Doctoral Researchers

In line with calls in the higher education sector for the development of prevention strategies to promote mental health and wellbeing in doctoral researchers, researchers at the University of Lincoln have recently shared findings from research that explored how to best support doctoral researchers in the transition to doctoral study.

The project team, led by Dr Trish Jackman in collaboration with colleagues Lisa Jacobs and Rebecca Sanderson, worked with doctoral researchers and higher education stakeholders to co-design principles to inform the design of doctoral researcher induction programmes. The findings were recently shared via a webinar run by the project funder, the Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN), and a summary of the good practice principles can be accessed via the LILI Impact blog:

Getting Consultancy Off the Ground

Roger and Michelle reflect together on the challenges and opportunities involved in delivering consultancy projects. Michelle talks about her ten-month contract with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), delivered under the very challenging circumstances of the pandemic. She covers how she used her existing expertise to build a relationship with an external partner, how she navigated the internal systems of the university, and what she has gained from the experience. Roger summarises his current project, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), in which he is bringing together the short-term training and coaching he has been delivering into a multiday programme for senior leaders. He acknowledges the challenges of workload and time availability in getting projects like this done to a high standard, but suggests that the energy involved in sharing academic expertise with external agencies makes it worthwhile. Both Roger and Michelle are available to advise or support anyone in the college considering getting into consultancy.


Dr Roger Bretherton, School of Psychology

Mrs Michelle Smith, School of Psychology


 

Collaborative partnerships between the Clinical Research Network and the University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

The Clinical Research Network (CRN) National and the CRN East Midlands funded two Research Associate posts for one year in order to promote and develop research in Public Health and Social Care. Both posts are based at the University of Lincoln in the School of Health and Social Care. The social care post, held by Louise Marsh, is intended to promote the social care research agenda by raising awareness and activity within the social care sector. A previously poorly engaged and under-researched area, it comes with unique challenges but great opportunities. Drawing from established models like ENRICH, Louise, who has extensive experience in the social care sector will engage with domiciliary and day care services, charity, voluntary and faith sectors as major social care providers. The public health post, held by Sam Cooke, will aim to champion public health research across the East Midlands by promoting and engaging in research activity within the public health sector. Sam will work closely with researchers, local authority staff, and organisations to develop public health networks, facilitate shared learning, and drive areas of high research priority. This post will offer great opportunity in contributing towards building public health research capacity across the region. Our presentation today will summarise how the roles were developed, what they hope to achieve and the kinds of benefits and impact that collaborative partnerships such as this one can have on research within the University and the wider public health and social care arena.


Dr Ros Kane, School of Health and Social Care
Prof Mo Ray, School of Health and Social Care
Dr Samuel Cooke, School of Health and Social Care
Ms Louise Marsh, School of Health and Social Care


 

Impact at the University of Lincoln; celebrating CoSS impact and looking to the future

To ask questions, and have full functionality and engagement with this presentation, please visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1XwMk01PN4 

The University of Lincoln has a proud history and ongoing commitment to purposeful research, and research which makes a difference regionally, nationally and internationally. Impact – or the provable benefits of research in the ‘real world’ – is central to many of our activities, and reflects the commitment of so many colleagues in engaging with businesses, charities, schools, public services and many other areas outside the university setting. In March 2021 we submitted a range of impact case studies to the Research Excellence Framework (REF), showcasing some of the wealth of benefits UoL research has had in many aspects of life. As we emerge from that process, we can turn attention to stronger approaches not only to generate more impact, but also to support staff build impact into their research and individual professional development. In this session we will celebrate our REF submissions, update on developments within the institution and across the sector, and look ahead to collaboratively shaping how Lincoln best contributes to the world around us.

 

Peer Review – an outsider’s perspective

Frances Pearson, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, Senior Research Officer

I’m writing the first Professional Services contribution to our College of Social Science Research Blog on the subject of Peer Review, given that we are participating in Peer Review Week 2019!

I joined the university in March 2019. When applying for my current role, I had to answer a question around the consequences of inaccuracies in applications for research funding and how I could help prevent such inaccuracies. Without any direct experience in administrating or managing the process of applying for research grant funding, I had to draw upon other experiences that I had which related to improving and sustaining high quality service delivery and outputs.

A significant part of my answer was peer review, without being aware of the existing process in place at the time. This was based upon my experience facilitating and conducting quarterly preparation for yearly service audits in a previous role. Delivering commissioned services meant that yearly audits were in place across a number of my services, and that it was in everyone’s best interests to be prepared for them. I managed this by a quarterly timetable of peer led service audits, which gave managers the chance to learn and develop based upon observations of best practice and highlighting areas for improvement within their colleague’s services.

Obviously these peer audits were not easy. They took time and could feel exposing and always resulted in action plans for service improvements. However, they meant that when the people responsible for funding our services came to audit our services each year, there were no nasty surprises and ultimately we continued to get funding and everyone kept their jobs!

What I am trying to get at is that the concept of peer review is one that is consistent with maintaining high quality in a service or project, and ultimately convincing other people that funding the work you do is worth them parting with their money. It is recognised and employed in a range of sectors and for good reason.

After 6 months at the University I’ve been party to many discussions around the peer review of grant applications. It is a process which can be complex and difficult, but the benefits highlighted by academic colleagues far seem to outweigh these difficulties.

The quality of a review is so important. Putting a grant application together is a difficult and time consuming process, before even getting to submitting and worrying about the outcome. Receiving a review which clearly benefits from time and consideration, evidenced through comprehensive and specific observations and ideas for development is one of the most valuable pieces of input a grant application and prospective PI can have. Being open to this feedback can reassure a PI that they are not alone in this process, that they can count on help and support from their colleagues.

Giving a peer review provides an opportunity to reflect upon the content of a grant application, to identify areas of good practice and to develop critical skills which can then be put to use writing grant applications. For those in the early stages of their career particularly, having the opportunity to read and comment upon an application for funding is a valuable learning tool.

At the other end of the process, once a research project is completed and outputs are being put forward for publication, they will be peer reviewed. It makes sense that at the very beginning of this journey, feedback would be sought in the same way; in part to ensure that the outputs had as solid a foundation as possible.

The process takes all of those involved out of their comfort zone; and it should. Walking a difficult path with your colleagues – and the opportunity to go back and re-trace your steps – before a funding decision is far more preferable than doing so alone; reflecting upon the steps you have taken after the decision to fund or not fund a proposal has been taken.