Transforming our research culture: we need your help

April 5th, 2022

A message from Professor Dame Jessica Corner

Why is our research culture so important? And why do we need your help to improve it?

A research environment that is positive, rewarding and truly inclusive is essential to delivering world-class research. It is also essential in supporting the wellbeing and fulfilment of us all.

What do we mean by research culture? The Royal Society defines research culture as encompassing “the behaviours, values, expectations, attitudes, and norms of our research communities. It influences researchers’ career paths and determines the way that research is conducted and communicated”.

Today we are launching a research culture survey, the first step in an ambitious project to understand how to support our pioneering researchers and all colleagues who contribute to our research activities. Through this project, we aim to make the university a place that people want to come to work and study, to develop their skills and to contribute to our university community.

A good research culture empowers everyone, allowing us all to thrive. Our people are at the heart of our renewed research strategy and being supported and encouraged to reach your potential is fundamental to our mission of delivering world-class teaching and learning. Students are also inspired by a sector-leading research environment and exceptional researchers enrich our teaching of the next generation of research leaders.

Share your feelings 

We want to hear from you, and from all colleagues either undertaking or supporting research at the university – including academics, professional services staff, postgraduate researchers, technicians, and early career researchers.

Complete the survey

Yes, another survey…but we believe it is worth around 20 minutes of your time.

Here’s why:

  • There is evidence that a vibrant, positive and inclusive research environment, with an open and transparent set of values, is the cornerstone of high-performance research
  • Our research strategy consultation revealed our current research culture is hampering our ability to produce high-quality and impactful research, and must change
  • Identifying the work we need to do together is essential in addressing this
  • Only by hearing from, listening to and empowering you can we affect significant and meaningful change

In short, your voice and support will truly make a difference.

It is also important to say how we feel. The survey may reveal uncomfortable insights as well as great suggestions and practical solutions.

Together we will better understand how to:

  • value and celebrate individuals and teams
  • clarify expectations of performance
  • build a collegiate, inclusive and ambitious environment
  • support and cultivate our talent
  • embrace and recognise our postgraduate researchers as key to our research success

We know that some people work in amazing environments – we can learn from you and, by co-creating the best research culture and environment in which to work, help everyone involved in delivering and supporting our research.

To reflect the ambition and scope of this project, we commissioned external experts to help us better understand our research culture, so together as a community we can identify what we can do to improve and empower us all to make change.

To take the next step in this process we really need your help. Please complete our research culture survey and register to attend our culture improvement workshops – let us know how you feel and what needs to be done.

As we develop practical solutions to growing a vibrant, dynamic research culture, we will ensure the value of equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded in all we do.

How to get involved.

We pledge that our collective survey responses will be shared without individuals being identified and will actively inform this project. We also encourage you to sign up for a research culture workshop, where we will explore emerging themes in more depth.

Do look out for the workshop dates and an opportunity to contribute further. Working collectively across the university we aim to deliver real and tangible change to our research culture before the end of this year.

Thank you for your continued support as together we work to change our research culture to benefit us all.


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