Supporting Researchers – programmes now open

In 2020 we’ve faced unprecedented widespread disruption to our ways of working and recognise that some research and researchers have been more significantly affected than others. This includes female academics, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic academics, those on fixed term contracts and those with caring responsibilities.

Part of our response to these challenges was to reduce contract precarity for a cohort of around 30 research fellows by extending our Chancellor’s Fellowship scheme. In doing this we identified a much larger number of ambitious and talented researchers and although we couldn’t offer them all fellowships, we are confident that they will be successful in securing other awards and positions with a little focused support. The core resource library described below is designed to help anyone who didn’t secure a fellowship in this round to focus their development using the feedback they received.

Although we recognise that many of the issues affecting our researchers are systemic and require us to consider our policies and practices, we know this will take time. As we start to identify the right changes to make to our system (with the insights from our Evidence-Base project) we also want to support our researchers in the short term. To do this we are working with our collaborators at 64 Million Artists who have designed a series of new programmes which will help our researchers to find focus, make better decisions and to develop effective career plans.

Core Resource Library

Three programmes are planned, underpinned with a tailored library of new self-directed materials. This will be based online and include videos, interviews, self-led exercises and more. Participants can take modules separately to target development needs identified through feedback or annual review, or follow a path through the modules. The modules will cover topics based on:

  • Purpose and Vision
  • Idea Development
  • Wellbeing and Resilience
  • Bid Development and Grant Writing
  • Project and People Management
  • Internal and External Influencing
  • Dealing with Risk and Uncertainty
  • Prioritisation and Focus

Each of the 3 programmes will then use these modules as a basis, but will also have specialist teaching or resources on top of that. Participants in all 3 programmes will also receive strengths-based feedback at the beginning of the programme to help them focus on developing their strengths and identify what they want to build on.

Additionally, IAD will review any themes in the CF feedback and identify additional training to support researchers looking to progress through fellowship funding.  Please email Sara Shinton in IAD to make suggestions for this training.

For researchers on fixed-term contracts 

  1. Thinking ahead – applications will open soon

The focus for this programme is around supporting researchers to think ahead, explore their career options and help them plan for the future. It will be predominantly self-led online with a co-mentoring programme to support and sustain learning. There will be some large-group teaching throughout to support the co-mentoring process. The main module focuses will be as followed:

From main programme:

  • Purpose and Vision
  • Wellbeing and Resilience
  • Dealing with Risk and Uncertainty
  • Internal and External Influencing

Given that we are having a particular focus on career options and development for research staff in 2021, we are building this into our Thinking Ahead programme with some specialist content on:

  • Employability
  • Career paths
  • Career Transition Stories

When we are ready to open this course for applications, we’ll add the details here. In the meantime, a comprehensive range of development workshops and resources for research staff is available from the IAD, including workshops, online resources and various guides to help you make the most of being a researcher at Edinburgh .

 For established academics who have been overwhelmed with other personal and professional responsibilities and want to develop research ideas

  1. Refocus Research – still open for applications

Refocus Research is a programme for mid-career academics (on grades 7-10) who want to regain some time and revisit their priorities in light of the Covid 19 pandemic. The programme is designed to help realign with priorities and vision for the future, as well as giving practical resources to help achieve goals.  It is run behind the team leading Strategic Leadership in Research, which has been a great success and is now entering its 3rd year. We can accommodate up to 120 academics on this programme. This simple application form is designed to give you a chance to reflect on what you want to get out of the programme but there should be enough spaces for everyone who wants to take part. 

Jo, the programme director, explains Refocus Research in a nutshell

Participants will take part in the modules online, attend webinars and then have group coaching in groups of 8 at the beginning, middle and end of the programme. This would allow them to develop a sense of cohort that could continue beyond the life of the programme. Ideally they would also have 121 sessions with their group leader in advance of starting, and on completion of the programme. The programme was designed staff who are still affected by disruption and other responsibilities, so it is designed to be light touch, but provide you with space to realign with your priorities and vision for the future, as well as giving you practical resources to help you achieve your goals.

The course is a mixture of individual and group learning and requires the following time commitment:

  • 8 online modules made available for flexible personal learning (approx 8 half days to work on at your leisure). These will cover:
    • Purpose and Vision 
    • Idea Development 
    • Wellbeing and Resilience
    • Bid Development and Grant writing 
    • Project and People Management
    • Internal and External Influencing 
    • Managing Uncertainty and Failing Well 
    • Prioritisation and Focus
  • 1 hour of coaching to look at priorities and future planning
  • 3 small group coaching sessions (2-3 hours)
  • 5 webinars on specialist subjects (2 hours)

This course is now open for applications. Please fill in your details here by Friday February 19th and note that we will start the programme in March/April, running it through to September/October.

Welcome Webinar, Wednesday March 31st 2-4pm (this will be recorded but it would be great if you can come and meet other participants)

Webinar: Navigating the University’s Research Support Landscape, Wednesday May 12th 2-4pm.

Webinar: Managing Difficult Conversations,  Tuesday June 8th 10am – 12noon.

Webinar: Resilience Repurposing Recycling , Thursday September 9th 11am – 1pm.

Group coaching meetings will be scheduled for end May/early June; then end August/early September; then end October/early November

Closing Webinar: Tuesday November 9th 10am – 12noon.

(We’re aware that you might become aware of this support either just before or after the closing date. If this happens, please email Sara Shinton in IAD – we’ll be as flexible as we can.)

Our third programme is aimed at women of colour who are established academics with ambitions to progress into research leadership roles.

  1. Women of Colour* in Research Leadership – applications now open and deadline extended

This Senior Leadership programme is designed for women of colour, who are at grade 8 or 9 and are aiming to move forward in their academic leadership. Taking place over 6 months, the course offers the opportunity to develop a cohort of 24 peers, receive specialist training, hear from inspiring speakers and take part in both 121 coaching and action learning.

We have chosen to focus on women from diverse ethnic backgrounds as they are particularly under-represented in the University and have worked with the Edinburgh Race Equality Network to scope the programme, holding a focus group in December 2020 to get input on content and structure.*We’re aware that the term Women of Colour, like many used to discuss diversity, groups ethnic backgrounds into one homogenous group. We hope this won’t deter anyone from applying and would welcome better suggestions for the title of the programme.

The programme will cover:

– Purpose, vision and goals
– Navigating structures
– Networking and influencing
– Practical steps to getting larger research grants (talking to funders, bid development, project management)
– Wellbeing and Resilience
– Time management, delegation and negotiation
– Storytelling and brand

The context of the programme acknowledges the structural injustices faced by women of colour and that it is not their work to overcome these barriers. The University are also working on several strands of work to reduce these barriers, but the content of the programme is designed to give participants a space for development in their own right and further equip them for leadership.

The dates for workshops are as follows (all in 2021) and will take place online:

W1 Monday 19th April       9.00 – 4.30
W2 Monday 26th April       9.00 – 4.30
W3 Tuesday 18th May       9.00 – 4.30
W4 Thursday 24th June   9.00 – 4.30 (Please note this is a change from the original advertised date)
W5 Tuesday 7th September 9.00 – 4.30
W6 Wednesday 20th October 9.00 – 4.30

We expect participants to attend all workshops. You will also receive 6 x 1 hour coaching sessions and take part in additional action learning sets.

Deadline for applications is Monday 1st March at 9am and you should apply here. (Note that we’ve extended this deadline on request – you must commit to attending the course and would suggest you protect all dates from the point of application.) For any further information please contact


If you have any questions about the programmes above, please email Sara Shinton in IAD.