Archives for the month of: October, 2015

So, this post is partly reflection and partly a bubbling over of my enthusiasm for the University’s upcoming celebration of thirty years of staff development.

Take a good look at the logo below as I am optimistic you will see it all over campus during November!

Thirty30-178x178

Since June, I have been part of a cross-discipline working group made up of colleagues from Professional Services and academic departments to turn a passing idea of, “wouldn’t it be good to celebrate the 30th anniversary of staff development?” into a reality.

Some of the group I knew, some were new introductions but what struck me most was: Read the rest of this entry »

Picture of man driving while drinking coffee and texting on his mobile phone. Caption reads: Multitasking - because we needed another word for As I type this blog post, I have half an eye on the telly and periodically flick to my Twitter notifications because, obviously, it’s important.

And, anyway, it’s a given, in our technology-dominated culture, that we should be able to manage the competing distractions of social media, email, cat videos on the Internet (not to mention the actual, real life ‘distractions’ of friends and family), while meeting our deadlines, completing our projects and, obviously, finishing up that next killer paper. In fact, I’d bet a Jaffa Cake (so you know I mean business) that every job description I’ve seen in the last few years has highlighted the need to be able to multitask. But, recently, I’ve started to think that, actually, multi-tasking might be for losers. Or, at least, that it might not be the panacea for all our productivity woes that we’ve been led to believe. Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re a researcher in the social sciences you’re probably aware already that it’s possible to work as a social researcher in central or local government, with a think tank or with a major charity or campaigning organisation. However, you might not be aware that similar opportunities exist with a range of other organisations including: faith groups; industry trade associations, market research companies and media organisations.

If you want to see what’s out there the following websites are potentially very useful:

  • The Social Research Association’s site includes: a guide to careers in social research outside academia; a list of current vacancies and a directory of organisations which carry out social research.
  • W4MP lists jobs with political parties, pressure groups and think tanks.
  • The Government Social Research site provides an overview of opportunities in central government.
  • Jobs Go Public advertises opportunities with local authorities and social housing providers.
  • Charity Job is a good source for jobs in the ‘third sector’.

When looking at adverts on these sites, it’s important to check what exactly the employer means by ‘research’. Some posts will provide an opportunity to contribute to knowledge by carrying out original research but others will simply involve collating information from published sources and using this to produce briefing materials. It’s important also to bear in mind that think tanks and pressure groups will often have a particular political or moral agenda that they wish to advance and so they will be looking for research outputs that are compatible with this.

In central and local government and with the larger think tanks and charities there’s usually a clear career structure for social researchers. Promotion often means moving away from ‘hands-on’ research towards project management, seeking out new business and managing relationships with internal and external customers. In smaller organisations prospects for progression may be limited if you want to continue in the research function, but there may be possibilities for advancement by moving into other roles. In these kinds of organisations research work might in any case be combined with other functions such as event management or PR and media relations and this in itself will help you to broaden your skills.

Overall, salary progression tends not to be as good as in academia, but in most cases there is a better work/life balance. Also, a research career outside academia can offer you the chance sometimes to have an immediate impact on public policy and the possibility of gaining a higher public profile for your work.

Finally, if you choose the right kind of job, continue to develop your knowledge and research skills and maintain a wide range of contacts it may well be possible to return to an academic research career if that’s what you decide you want to do.

girls in rainWalking to work this morning, in the rain, I was trying to think of something to write for my blog post and the phrase ‘when it rains, it pours’ kept playing over in my mind. For many of us, it really does seem to be the case at work especially that your workload is not a steady flow but a torrential downpour of tasks. You find yourself rushing to finish that presentation for the conference in a couple of days’ time, when a journal review lands in your inbox that you know you can’t say no to. You also have that paper that still needs finishing, portfolio to finish for your Higher Education Academy submission, a million actions to complete from a variety of committee meetings and that’s on top of balancing your ‘day job’ work. If this isn’t enough, home life seems no less hectic. Your kids have such a busy social/hobby/homework demands they could do with their own PA, someone in your extended family isn’t well, you foolishly decided to have some renovation work done to your house and you daren’t open the spare bedroom door for fear of being consumed by the tidal wave of ironing threatening to engulf you. It’s enough to make you feel like dropping all the juggling balls and running in the opposite direction. Read the rest of this entry »