This post is by Alex Peden, IAD secondee and Research Strategy Manager in the Usher Institute.
Between August and November 2018 40 researchers, post-doc champions and support staff were interviewed through face-to-face meetings, a research staff society online survey and via email to gather information and ideas on how the University could provide better support to research staff. The need for a “one stop shop” website that linked all relevant information from across the University designed specifically for research staff was a clear message.
Between February and July 2021, funded by Covid-19 mitigation funding from the Scottish Funding Council, I have been seconded to the Institute for Academic Development to design and build the Research Staff Hub website. The site went live at the beginning of June.
The development of a research staff website is a key action in the University’s Researcher Development Concordat Action Plan and aims to provide landing page drawing together the resources research staff might need during their employment at the University, while also increasing visibility of services that might be useful.
I worked with services from across the University including the Edinburgh Research Office, Edinburgh Innovations, Health & Safety, Information Services and IAD to identify resources and information that should be included. In developing the site, I requested feedback from research staff, Post-doc Champions, College Research Committees and Research Managers.
The site was designed to present information to a research staff member asking a particular question or addressing a situation, rather than based around the University structure, University services and/or their provision.
During the consultation to develop the University’s concordat action plan, researchers raised issues such as bullying and harassment, contract length, the quality of line management, networking and research profiles for research staff. This led me to include a section outlining Rights & Responsibilities, Resources for Managers of Research Staff and a focus on Community & Networking. Information on setting up and maintaining Pure profiles is linked throughout the site.
The site is constructed to be “on the side” of the researcher, attempting to highlight common issues (e.g. end of contract, eligibility to apply for funding) and suggesting routes to mitigate risks associated with these situations. Links to external organisations that may be useful in supporting or advising research staff have been included e.g. UCU, Acas, Citizens Advice.
The home page displays all the sections of the site, and includes links to the underlying sub-sites, hopefully allowing researchers to navigate to the information they need quickly.
I’ve attempted to balance the, sometimes overwhelming, volume of information and support available with keeping the site focused on key information that is relevant across all Schools and Colleges. I hope the site has struck the right balance and is useable and concise while also presenting key information.
If you have any feedback, comments or additions to the Research Staff hub please drop me an email before the end of July 2021 at firstname.lastname@example.org , or email email@example.com from 1st August 2021.