Archives for the month of: July, 2015

rmpOur early career Research Staff Mentoring programme has been running for 5 years now. Having trained about 150 academic volunteers in mentoring techniques and ethical practice, and having seen more than 500 pairs come through the scheme, I’ve learned a lot about the power of dialogue in supporting planning for research careers. Taking a research-led approach has helped craft a programme of value to the primary learners, the early career researcher mentees. But there’s wider listening to be done to fully embed a mentoring culture across the university – a successful mentoring programme has to align with existing structures and cultures, not circumnavigate them or try to replace them.

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30 Principles for Steps Towards Research Independence 

We hosted last week the STRI symposium ‘Steps Towards Research Independence’ for researchers from the Faculties of Science, Medicine, Dentistry and Health. Our ambition in hosting this symposium was to offer a packed day full of ideas, food for thoughts, strategies and shared experiences about the process of transitioning towards research independence. Our speakers included researchers who had just gained their first fellowships to academics who had held several, lecturers who had never had one as well as professors who had achieved great academic success and held senior fellowships. We also had talks from colleagues from Research and Innovation Services about different funding streams or researchers supporting colleagues with the integration of statistical good practice in research proposals and research design. We had over 90 participants who joined us on the day for a morning full of talks and an afternoon busy with 6 workshops on offer covering topics as diverse as leadership skills, demystifying the CV, incorporating ‘Person, Project, Place’ in fellowship applications, as well as very interactive and dynamic sessions with Vox Coaching on shining in job/ fellowship interviews. Read the rest of this entry »

Do researchers lack entrepreneurial spirit or are they the victims of system failures?

So when you think your research could make a difference and help improve people’s lives, what stops you from developing your idea into a reality? Is it: Read the rest of this entry »


I was thrilled when earlier this year my Faculty (Medicine, Dentistry and Health) agreed to the Early Career Group’s idea of holding an annual ‘Early Career Researcher Prize Scheme’ to celebrate the outstanding contributions that contract research staff make to the Faculty. Read the rest of this entry »

Please click here to read the full and excellent post on the blog of Dr Anne Burns, Research Associate at the University of Sheffield on the ‘Picturing the Social’ project: looking at photographic sharing practices on social media.

…Fixed term researchers (FTRs) play an invaluable role in academia. We serve a very specific purpose, in terms of finding something out, within a defined time frame, and in harmony with the wider research culture of the institution. Such parameters of topic, time and cost demand that FTRs have a certain skill set, relating to adaptability, focus and creativity. The latter is the focus of a three-part series of events being held at the University of Sheffield over the summer, called ‘Tuning in to the Value of Research Staff’…

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1Many of my friends were involved in playing a poker game, for plastic chips not money(!) at the village pub. It is part of a league which means that the top players, each season, get to play at G-Casino against other pubs and some even get the chance to go to play in Las Vegas.

It was a couple of years before they persuaded me to have a go as I really wasn’t interested in a game that involved bluffing, which I felt I wouldn’t be good at. Eventually they talked me into it and we first just played at someone’s house so they could explain everything as we went along and let me play while being coached by one of them. Read the rest of this entry »


When it comes to writing job applications do you struggle to find the right words to tell the recruiter or why you think you’re the best candidate? Maybe you’ve submitted an application recently but not received that call or letter inviting you to interview and you’re wondering what, if anything, you’ve done wrong?

WE HAVE A MOOC FOR YOU! This was designed for all students but plenty of researchers have now signed up. Read the rest of this entry »

A guest post from Dr Vera Lukashchuk, a research associate from the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience.

If you have ever felt like you are not using your time effectively, that you are not progressing in your job as fast as you wish to, and that you may be ignoring the importance of the work/life balance, then read on…

In March 2015, Think Ahead ran a brilliant workshop called ‘How to be an Effective Researcher’ aimed to help you resolve or at the very least recognise all of these and other issues in yourself. The workshop delivered by Caron King from Mindset Methods consisted of two very dynamic days dedicated to providing an insight into strategies for successful project design and management, and working effectively to deliver results. I walked in there open-minded, and very aware of the fact that I would have to challenge my introverted nature and interact with people I’d just met, full-time for two days straight. Read the rest of this entry »

I have been working on projects for a while. I was a researcher (Technician, PhD, PDRA) so initially these were bioscience projects. Now I am a Project Officer in R&IS and manage and co-ordinate institutional projects that support research and researchers. I could tell you more, but won’t, the point is I gained transferable skills from my time doing research and I recently used this to write a ‘project planning check list’ to help me plan new projects. I share it below. Read the rest of this entry »