the mysterious case of the vanishing researchers

The gang mystery_incwere stumped. Researchers kept joining the university and then vanished into thin air!

Was there some dark laboratory in the basement where they were all held captive and never saw the light of day again? It appeared some of them seemed to be able to escape to attend various development sessions but sadly some never did.

What did these researchers know that other didn’t? Was there a hidden door leading to a maze of underground tunnels that eventually ended in the outside world and sometimes even sunlight (well it is England, we can’t guarantee it) lab-munsters

Was sunlight the problem? After years of working, all hours of day and night in laboratories, had they developed an aversion to sunlight so they could only come out at night or on very cloudy days?

 It was a mystery the gang were determined to solve.

Joking apart, it is a concern that some researchers do not seem to take up what is on offer to help them develop their career so they are ready for their next role. As most are on short term contracts it is vital that they are ‘employer ready’ and spend some time finding out what their options are and developing their knowledge and skills to ensure they are successful in gaining that next role.

choices-pathsIf some researchers know the career path they want to take, and they are developing themselves, that is fine.  If some know they need help in deciding on their future career and are accessing the services available, that is fine. Our concern is that there are some researchers that are not sure where they want to go next and are not accessing the help that is available or are not trying to until it is too late.

The Think Ahead is, “a framework for the continuous professional development of researchers at the University of Sheffield, supporting individual career ambitions in and beyond academia.”

In the Faculty of Engineering, over the next year, the Think Ahead Researcher Development Manager for Engineering will be working with the Engineering Researcher Society and the Engineering Representative on the Research Staff Development Committee  to find out about the different kinds of researchers and their needs, to determine how we can better support their career aspirations. It may not only be about considering different ways of providing opportunities and support but also about improving the researcher environment. Please share your views here

Following the ‘Conversational tour’ that took place in 2015 all faculties are considering the ‘Recommendations of good practice’ that were put forward to suggest ways in which the researcher environment could be improved. This project is just one of the ways we will explore the improvements that could be made. The results of this project will be shared across all faculties as I’m sure some of the issues and ideas will be similar.



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