The Journey from Interested Spectator to Active Researcher - A Practice-based Case Study on the Development and Support of Early Career Researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands

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Helping new colleagues make the transition from PhD studies to being a fully-fledged research active academic is increasingly challenging in UK Higher Education, not least in the present day when research-related grants from the Funding Councils and the Research Councils will only normally be released if linked to the work of established, ‘Internationally Leading’ or ‘World Leading’ (REF, 2014 a), research excellence. However, add to this the complexity of developing Early Career Researchers (ECR) in the context of a new university, in a widely disbursed geographic setting (largely remote and rural), which is arranged according to a federal model of governance and within a fully tertiary education setting – which thereby encompasses Further Education (FE) as well as Higher Education (HE) engagement – and the task becomes significantly more difficult. This is the challenge facing the development of ECRs at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

This paper presents a case study of the approaches that UHI has taken to the development of, and support for, ECRs, many aspects of which will find applicability in other HE contexts both in the United Kingdom and internationally. The approach is based on the hypothesis that ECR development can be enhanced and accelerated, and lead to more successful translation into long-term staff engagement with research, through coordinated, time-sensitive, and funded interventions that are managed and deliberate, as compared to bottom-up, organic staff engagement with research without such intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-127
Number of pages30
JournalEducation in the North
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2016
EventVitae Inclusive Researcher Development Conference - Etc Venues, Bishopsgate Court, 4-12 Norton Folgate, London, E1 8DQ, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 Jan 201731 Jan 2017



  • Early Career Researcher
  • ECR
  • research development
  • rural
  • institutional strategy
  • research support
  • academic development
  • sabbaticals
  • curriculum development
  • Research Excellence Framework
  • REF

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