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Diverse and Inclusive Research Careers

What prevents the under-represented groups from progressing in their research careers? What support or training would facilitate progression?

In collaboration with Research Consulting, Professor Sotaro Kita and colleagues undertook a comprehensive literature review that surveyed initiatives in UK universities. It also involved conducting interviews and a focus group with 68 Warwick participants, comprising:

  • 9 PGT and undergraduates

  • 16 PGRs

  • 13 Academics and ECRs

  • 30 Professional Services Staff

Literature review findings

The review found that under-representation gets worse further into the research career.

The review also found that gender and ethnicity are better studied than the topic of PGR to full-time employment.

Issues vary across different groups and across different disciplines, but there was a paucity of good evidence for “what works.”

Interview and focus group outcomes

Some of the comments from the interviews and focus groups included:

  • “Lots of surveys, but not much progress.”

  • “PGR recruitment is a black box / unfair.”

  • “Role models matter a great deal.”

  • ”PIs are not interested in developing ECRs careers.”

  • “Career development outside of the academia is not valued / supported enough.”

  • “ECRs and PGRs often lack a broader social/support network.”


Recommendations by Research Consulting

The project also included some key recommendations from Research Consulting, based on the findings of the interviews, focus groups and literature reviews. These included:

  • Establish institutional vision and targets for improvement

  • Review and augment the approach to PGR recruitment

  • Creating an institutional culture and resource supporting evaluation of ”what works”

  • Ensuring all PGRs and ECRs have an established contact with a non-academic personal contact.

  • Recognising the time that staff from under-represented groups commit to delivering action plans

  • Developing training programmes supporting academics and researchers, including managing diverse research teams and enhancing the success of ECRs in reaching success in research and teaching roles.

Next steps

Following on from the above, the team will now re-evaluate current institutional ED&I goals from the viewpoint of the research career pipeline. They will also seek to develop positive action initiatives, targeting most “leaky” parts of the pipeline, and re-evaluate the current “pastoral/peer support” for PGRs and ECRs.

Training effort across the campus will also need to be co-ordinated, with a unified vision for research culture improvement, as well as the development of capacity to rigorously evaluate “what works.”

Image credit: Hollis Photography

Principal Investigator: Professor Sotaro Kita, Department of Psychology and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research)


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