Postgraduate researchers

April 2, 2020, by Rob Ounsworth

Researchers, we are listening 

A message to postgraduate researchers from the Graduate School

“Won’t somebody think of postgraduate researchers?” asked a higher education journal last week. We’ve been hearing the same sentiment from some of our own postgraduate researchers (PGRs) as well as some of our research staff and APM colleagues who support them.  

At the Graduate School we spend a lot of time advocating for all our researchers and research supervisors and advising on issues that affect them. We are in a position to reassure you that the University of Nottingham is thinking of and working on behalf of its research community. Having said that, those of us involved with researcher culture at the University could do even more to be transparent, explicit and relevant in our communicationsIn that spirit, we would like to share a succinct update on what we have been doing, and to invite you to get in touch with us if you have any unaddressed concerns. 

News and guidance

Less than a week after the campus closure, colleagues in Research and Innovation and the Graduate School launched a dedicated Covid-19 SharePoint resource for the University of Nottingham research community. This resource hosts the latest news and guidance for researchers and their supervisors.  The site already contains important information such as criteria for critical and essential research, research funder updates, and revised guidance on research ethics and online vivas. 

Meanwhile, in support of the fight against COVID-19, we have been prioritising getting policy in place to allow clinical postgraduate researchers to move back into their roles in the NHS easily, while maintaining contact with the University and their supervisors. We are also prioritising helping non-clinical PGRs contribute as volunteers across the NHS and other partners through our civil partnerships. 

We are aware that some research staff are worried about what happens to people coming to the end of their contracts, as well as concerns over progress and recruitment, and we are urgently discussing these issues with the University leadership and other stakeholders. 

Online training and development

It is important to acknowledge that there is ‘no one size fits all’ answer to what researchers should be doing during this period of campus closure. For many, these first few weeks will rightly be a time for prioritising personal wellbeing, family responsibilities, and setting up new day-to-day routines. Others may find it helpful, now or in future weeks, to use this time of changing research activities to increase the priority of other areas such as writing, training and development, and the philosophy underpinning all research. At a time when digital working and communication has become so essential, the brand new Graduate School ‘Building digital capabilities for researchers’ Moodle offers one very relevant opportunity, but we also have 20 plus online training and development courses available right nowwith more planned for the weeks ahead. 

The researcher environment is a complex one. Delivering detailed responses to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation will take time. Nonetheless, complex problems also demand transparent and clear communication. We are trying to be mindful of everyone and are actively working and advocating on your behalf. But if there are gaps in our advocacy or communication, we encourage you to get in touch and let us know.   

You can contact us at: 

Jane Wellens
Head of the Graduate School

Lucy Donaldson 
Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Graduate School and Researcher Career Development 

Posted in research