Archives for category: Bryony Portsmouth

Last Thursday morning I attended the first ‘Research & Innovation forum’, which was led by Professor Dave Petley, Vice President for Research & Innovation.

I think it is worth writing about for a few reasons.

  • It is an example of me engaging in continuing professional development. Many times, myself and colleagues make the point that development is everywhere. It is to be found in much more fluid experiences than a whole day ‘training’ event or qualification.  We develop through engagement in everyday activities where we expand our knowledge base and reflect on the way we work.
  • In working in a team whose mission is to provide, “a framework for the continuous professional development of researchers at the University of Sheffield, supporting individual career ambitions in and beyond academia”, I ought to have an understanding of the current research landscape both in and beyond the university and be prepared to share that understanding with others.
  • To encourage other people to attend future forums.

Read the rest of this entry »

We live in changing times, it cannot be denied or avoided.  At work, in the world, things are happening, many of them things beyond our control.

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Friday was Armistice Day.  I am a poppy wearer and the 11th November is significant to me every year.  I know there are differing opinions about these traditions, so I found myself pondering the complexity of personal values and the tensions that can exist when we find ourselves encouraged to contribute to a collective reality that just isn’t our cup of tea. Read the rest of this entry »

As many of you will know, the Researcher Professional Development Team has a Twitter handle @thinkaheadsheff.  Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been looking after the account and as a result, I came across what I found to be a really interesting article. This isn’t always easy as the speed of traffic and new information that comes across the home feed is staggering to a luddite like me. Read the rest of this entry »

This post is a follow up to one I wrote in April, which (sad face) didn’t generate any comments or debate.  As I mentioned then, the University is a signatory  the UK ‘Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers‘.  Blank face? I hope not but just in case, here is how RCUK sum it up on their website:

“The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers sets out the expectations and responsibilities of researchers, their managers, employers and funders. It aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of UK society and the economy.”

The Concordat underpins the work so many of us do and has had a massive effect on the way in which the University of Sheffield considers and improves the environment for researchers. Read the rest of this entry »

Last week provided me with a double of interesting events that made me think about the importance of ‘engaging’ (with learning, people and change).

There are various definitions on Dictionary.com but for me engaging is a conscious act, one of opening up oneself to new information, ideas or opportunities. From this can come the act of engagement, characterised in a multi-way transaction in which all parties are actively involved and inevitably, something changes as a result.

On Thursday, I attended a TUoS Engaged Learning Network event. Professor Brendan Stone, who introduced the session, describes engaged learning & teaching as, “combining academic rigour and disciplinary knowledge with opportunities for students to learn with and from external partners, ‘real-world’ challenges, and experiences outside the University.” (‘Engaged Learning Sheffield’, 2016).

The keynote speaker, Dr Ira Harkavy from the University of Pennsylvania, talked passionately about the need for academia to use its considerable resource and standing to foster community engagement and cooperation to enable genuine research impact in the local environment.

In the Q&A at the end, an impassioned colleague pointed out that this type of engagement, whether in Undergraduate learning or in core research, needs to be woven in to the fabric of the institution, rather than be seen as the activity of a few ‘out there’ individuals on the margins.

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What all of these positions reminded me was of the need for researchers to look beyond the day to day activity of research to consider who they will need to engage with to create change (no matter how big or small and whether in their own lives or beyond).

This contemplation was then reinforced on Friday when I attend a meeting of the nascent University-wide researcher society. Once again, impassioned colleagues talked, this time the focus being the benefits of engaging with researcher networks/associations for skill development, social connectivity, profile raising and to support collective change.

Both of these events had a common undercurrent, the certainty that collaboration and collective effort can be a force for change. For me, the very desire for ‘engagement’ implies that either an individual wants to improve something, be it personal and directly related to themselves or for the wider benefit to others.

I guess what I am trying to say (in a muddled philosophy kind of way) is that my choice to engage in both of these events, provided me opportunity to hear others’ visions, reflect on my own values, think more broadly about the role of research in society and be reminded about the potential for change that comes through a collectively engaged ‘voice’.

Time well spent, I’d say.

(Image credit: The University of Edinburgh)

Hopefully you are familiar with the Concordat? It is a sector owned document, rolled out eight years ago and it is a ‘good practice’ guide for institutions in the support of our researchers.

Externally, we are measured on our success in implementing the Concordat’s seven principles through the HR Excellence in Research Award which is independently reviewed every two years.

Over the last 18 months, we wanted to dig a bit deeper into how things are going and as a result, the Research Staff Development Committee, charged me with going on a tour of the University to find out about the environment for researchers.

Read the rest of this entry »

According to dictionary.com, a cohort is:

  1. a group or company
  2. a companion or associate

I have had a few recent experiences that have got me thinking about the cohort learning model.

We recently ran a recruitment round for the Independent Researcher Scheme. The scheme, “offers a bespoke development programme for Researchers who are committed to developing their research careers and aspiring to be an independent researcher.”

We found it really hard to recruit a cohort, which made me ponder. Was it the marketing? Was it this visibility of the scheme? Likely. Was it something else as well? Undoubtedly. Read the rest of this entry »

Google search ‘colour psychology’ (other search engines are available) and you can take your pick of opinion pieces, blog posts and article links on the topic of how colour affects both our mood and behaviour.

I am not going to attempt to literature review the research in this field, I am just taking the general position that colour and phrases can cause us to perpetuate a state of mind.

For example, the annual phrase, ‘January blues’ classically reinforces our sense of gloom about the short day light hours and the fact that the festive break with no work alarm and an unending supply of brie, crackers and chocs has come to a premature end. Read the rest of this entry »

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!

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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 »

Last Tuesday I attended the third in a series entitled ‘Tuning in to the value of research staff’, “a celebratory lunchtime event to showcase outputs from two creative workshops organised by researchers, for researchers at TUoS.”

As well as sharing the outputs from the earlier events in the series (Into the Woods / Talk it Out) through a display of artworks and photographs, this event aimed to ‘promote the value of fixed term staff and celebrate their contribution to TUoS’. It was also billed as ‘an opportunity to meet other research staff, to share experiences and consider ways of creating a connected community of researchers at TUoS’. Read the rest of this entry »