The start of the academic year is a good time for those of us who support the development of researchers to ask you ‘What’s missing?’ in the provision provided for training and career development support on offer.
If you’re a new PhD student just settling in then you’ve probably been thinking about what skills and experience you need to develop as part of your training needs analysis. If you’re later on in your PhD studies then you may well have been creating a new development plan for this academic year. For those of you who are further into your research career and are staff members you’ll most likely have had an annual appraisal recently where you were expected to highlight your development needs for the coming year.
So can you see any gaps? Are there any skills or experiences on the Researcher Development Framework set of attributes that you don’t know how to develop or can’t see any opportunities around you to support it. Hopefully you’ve already had this conversation with your supervisor/line manager and they’ve helped point you in the right direction. But if you’re still unsure, it might well be that there is a gap in the support and you need to let whoever supports researcher development in your institution know (e.g. Researcher Professional Development Team at the University of Sheffield). Most of the programmes of support developed over the years within an institution is driven by the needs identified by the researchers themselves. So it really is important you let us know if you need more support as the chances are, you aren’t the only one!
At the University of Sheffield, a recent example of a new development which stemmed from conversations with researchers who had identified a gap in the support for more senior research staff is the newly created TRAM (The Researcher as Manager) scheme. TRAM is a way to expand research staff’s management skills through engagement in learning and reflection aligned to the philosophies of the ILM (Institute of Leadership & Management).
Identifying development needs might be easier for researchers during their PhD or in their first few postdoctoral research positions, but what about those of you who have been researchers for many years within an institution. What else can we do to support your future development? What haven’t you seen advertised year on year and think were missing from the support we offer?
Finally for those of you who aspire for a different position one day, another way to think at what gaps there are to fill is to look at the job descriptions of potential future positions you might apply for, whether that be in or outside academia. If you read through a job description and think how you would evidence the skills and experience they are looking for and find you are stuck with what you would write, then that’s a great place to start. If you can’t see a way to develop that area then just let us know!
Researcher Developer’s doors are always open…let us know what’s missing for you!