Celebrating world-changing collaboration

Excellent examples of open and collaborative research tackling real-world problems have been officially recognised.

Winners of our inaugural Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards were announced during a special ceremony held on campus on Tuesday 19 July.

An impressive number of applications highlighted the broad spectrum of world-changing research at Leeds, together with the significant improvements being made to our research culture, which have been enabled by a wide range of colleagues. External peer reviewers commented on the high calibre of submissions across the board.

Among those projects celebrating success were the winners of the ‘Open research and impact’ and ‘Widening perspectives’ accolades, which both demonstrated the merits of working in collaboration with a diverse range of partners.

Beacon of good practice 

The ‘Open research and impact’ award recognises initiatives that increase the transparency, collaboration, inclusivity, reproducibility and efficiency of research processes to build trust and accountability. It focuses on aspects such as open access and open data, and promoting the use of open platforms for sharing research data, activities, outputs and impact.

The winning project in this category was led by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) at Leeds, and involved opening up access to its data science to help solve real-world problems.

Dr Emily Ennis, CDRC Research and Impact Manager, said: “The entire team at the CDRC is thrilled to have won a Research Culture Award for our open research and impact.

“The award is real testament to the hard work colleagues across job types and career stages have done to make the CDRC’s research open, accessible, reproducible and impactful beyond academia. 

“Our ‘ladder of engagement model’ has been a huge driver for successful engagement and impact with a range of diverse groups. But such engagement and impact would also not have been possible without our robust data governance and management infrastructures, which have not only encouraged ethical research practices, but have also allowed us to earn the confidence of external partners, who may have previously been reluctant to engage in University-led data science research. It’s fantastic to be recognised for these integral parts of how the CDRC works.” 

The awards reviewer panel said: “This submission demonstrates a real focus on partnership, skills and working with other sectors, and also education. From the submission, it appears to be a beacon of good practice, and it would be useful to transfer the ways of working/methods and approaches to infrastructure and skills to others.”

Other team members included Professor Mark Birkin, Professor Ed Manley, Dr Nik Lomax, Adam Keeley, Dr Pete Baudains, Kylie Norman, Robyn Naisbitt, Mel Green, Oli Mansell and Paul Evans.

Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards profiles feature. July 2022

Professor Nick Plant, Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (left), and Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis (right), with winners of the ‘Open research and impact’ award

Improving societal outcomes

The ‘Widening perspectives’ award recognises activities where multiple views from different knowledge holders (including seldom-heard voices) are brought together to inform, reframe or change public debate, and to inspire learning and sense-making that leads to empowerment.

The winning project was Act Early – the Holme Wood community-engaged data science scheme, led by the Centre for Applied Education Research, to improve societal outcomes.

Dr Faisal Mushtaq, an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology and part of the winning team, said: “We’re incredibly honoured by this award. 

“The establishment of the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research and the Centre for Applied Education Research in the past few years has opened new possibilities for our team to work across disciplines and organisations. 

“We know that sustained impact is only possible with community buy-in, and we’re fortunate to have access to infrastructure designed specifically for this purpose. This recognition from the University serves as extra motivation for our future plans to scale up our methods across the city, region and, ultimately, the UK.”

The awards reviewer panel said: “It’s clear the approach brought in local voices and generated local trust support to create a common vision and recommendations, using data for an inclusive approach to problem solving.”

Other team members included Mallory Morehead, Hayley Irving, Katherine Hiley, Dr Katy Shire, Chris Brown, Lauren Batty, Dave Lynch, Pete Eyres, Kathryn Loftus, Professor Mark Mon-Williams and Christian Bunting.

Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards profiles feature. July 2022

Professor Nick Plant, Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (left), and Chancellor, Professor Dame Jane Francis (right), with winners of the ‘Widening perspectives’ award

Courageous initiatives

At the heart of the University’s 10-year strategy is the commitment to recognise the value of everyone involved in delivering research, focusing not only on individual academic achievement but also on teamwork. All members of our research community have a role to play in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture, as well as contributing to the impact our research makes locally, nationally and internationally. 

Professor Cat Davies, Dean for Research Culture, said: “These awards celebrate colleagues who are working to make our research culture more collaborative, inclusive, open, supportive and sustainable. 

“The applications we received involved a total of 162 people, covering 16 schools/services, five faculties and nine centres and institutes, demonstrating some truly courageous initiatives to achieve better ways of working. 

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to engage in these projects, and for submitting applications at a time of significant workload. It’s also been a chance for us to share our activities with colleagues outside of the University, as our external decision panel lent their time and expertise in assessing an inspirational field of applications.”

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of Public Engagement with Research, said: “Without the collaborative effort of our working group that developed these awards for almost a year, and without the generosity of our external reviewer panel, we would not be able to celebrate the fantastic engaged research for impact practice at the University. Everybody who submitted an application should be proud of their work!”

Wonderful community

As part of our Fairer future for all initiative, we promised to do more to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our wonderful community of colleagues. 

During the next six months, our new campaign – Further Together – will showcase the achievements of many of those involved in delivering our transformational, fundamental and challenge-led research. 

We hope Further Together will inspire our entire community to get involved in helping transform lives and make a real difference across the globe, and these awards signify the start of that campaign.

Further information

In-depth profiles of each of the Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards winners will appear on the For Staff website during the coming weeks. These will also be promoted via the weekly All Staff enewsletters and the Staff Twitter account. And watch out for the latest updates about Further Together, which will also be promoted across these channels.

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