New projects promote healthy research culture

Funding has been approved to “strengthen and diversify the vital research undertaken at Leeds”.

Professor Cat Davies, Dean for Research Culture

Inside Track | Continuing the big conversation about our research culture. February 2023

Thirteen projects from across all seven faculties will share £267,000 from our Research England Enhancing Research Culture funding, aimed at promoting a more supportive, inclusive and collaborative research environment at the University.

Panel members managed to whittle down 35 applications received in the first open call for proposals, which closed at the end of last year.

Sucessful project aims range from improving participation in research for people with learning disabilities and creating a faculty-based research culture action plan, to making fieldwork more equitable and understanding students’ sense of belonging on campus.

Excellent response

Professor Cat Davies, Dean for Research Culture, said: “By launching our first ever open call for projects specifically setting out to improve our research culture, we’re enabling our University community to collaborate and improve our local environment.

“We received an excellent response to the call, with applications from diverse teams of academic and professional service staff covering every faculty at Leeds. It’s fantastic to see the creativity and diversity in the proposals and their direct alignment with our research culture themes.

“I’m thrilled with the range of projects receiving funding and excited to see how they change our research culture at Leeds during the coming months and years. Thank you to everyone who applied to, and supported, our first open call. By building a healthy and sustainable research culture, we will strengthen and diversify the vital research undertaken by colleagues at Leeds.”

Positive and inclusive environment

Research culture describes the environment in which research and innovation happens. It includes the ways in which we collaborate, communicate and interact; the behaviours, expectations, attitudes and values that shape how our research is developed, conducted, disseminated and used; and the mechanisms by which our work is recognised and rewarded.

At Leeds, we recognise and value everyone involved in research. Participants; our collaborators and partners; academic, research and technical staff; colleagues in professional services; students, and those in many other diverse roles within the University all make essential contributions. Together we arrange, enable, conduct and participate in research.

We believe all members of our research community have a role to play in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture. With this in mind, the Research Culture Team has been consulting with the University community during the past 18 months to identify our most pressing challenges.

Healthy and dynamic research

Research England is the branch of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) responsible for funding and engaging with higher education providers, to create and sustain the conditions for a healthy and dynamic research and knowledge exchange system in the sector.

The funding received for this open call must be spent by 31 July, with the outcomes assessed later this year.

Below is a summary of the funded projects, listed by faculty. 

Arts, Humanities and Cultures (AHC)

Project – Developing a Research Training Programme For and With Adults with Learning Disabilities.
Members – Professor Karen Burland Clark, Dr Freya Bailes and Melissa Kirby.
Summary – This project aims to improve access to, and participation in, research for individuals with lived experience of disability.

Project – Enhancing Research Culture Strategy in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures: Mentoring, Research Time, Research Leave and Professional Development.
Members – Professor Matthew Treherne, Dr Penny Goodman, Dr Jo Williams, Professor Leila Jancovich, Dr Lucy Hodgetts, Dr Claire Eldridge, Alice Potter and Alix Brodie-Wray.
Summary – This project addresses four key priorities for research culture identified by the AHC Research and Innovation committee – research time and research citizenship, return from long-term leave, research mentoring and professional services and research support.

Project – Digital Explorations: Opening the Medieval Manuscript Fragments from Ripon Cathedral Library.
Members – Dr Nurgul Kivilcim Yavuz, Professor Emma Cayley, Jodie Double and Rob Fitzgerald.
Summary – This project aims to enhance research culture at the University in the field of Digital Humanities (DH) through a pilot study focusing on manuscript fragments from the Ripon Cathedral Library housed in Special Collections at the Brotherton Library.

Project – Fostering a Collaborative Arts Research Culture: Artists and Arts Organisations Research Network.
Members – Dr Jon Ward, Benedetta D’Ettorre and Alice Chandler.
Summary – This project aims to develop a culture of collaboration among researchers exploring artists and arts organisations, bringing together academic colleagues attached to different projects, groups and centres in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures and the wider University.


Project – Guidelines for Safe, Inclusive and Equitable Research Fieldwork.
Members – Dr Sam Wimpenny, Dr C Scott Watson, Helena Brown, Dr Martin Zebracki and Aileen Doran.
Summary – This project aims to empower and educate researchers to practice safe, inclusive and equitable research fieldwork.

Project – Improving Research Readiness for Postgraduate Researchers to Enhance Research Culture.
Members – Dr Christine Bosch and Miles Ratcliffe.
Summary – The aim of the project is to establish the research readiness level of postgraduate researchers in Food Science and Nutrition as a multidisciplinary research discipline.

Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS)

Project – Places of Belonging: Using photo-voice to explore how campus spaces promote a sense of belonging for marginalised students and the implications for emotional wellbeing.
Members – Rebecca Brunk, Dr Pam Birtil, Professor Gehan Selim and Dr Jill Dickinson.
Summary – This project will examine marginalised postgraduate researcher students’ experiences of campus in order to understand which places promote a strong sense of belonging to the University and how these places can contribute to emotional wellbeing. It will also examine the places on campus that make these students feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in order to identify what can be done to transform these spaces.

Project – Co-creating a Research Culture Plan for Mechanical Engineering.
Members – Dr Briony Thomas, Professor Sophie Williams, Dr Sepideh Khodaparas and George Jackson-Mills.
Summary – The aim of this scoping project is to co-produce a research culture action plan by initiating dialogue and listening to the challenges faced by early career academics (ECAs).

Medicine and Health (FMH)

Project – Rebuilding Faces, Rebuilding Lives: A Collaborative Public Engagement Project.
Members – Dr Rachael Jablonski and Professor Sue Pavitt. Six artists (Sarah Morley, Brigid Brind, Jenny Mather, Alison Murdoch, Sara Stabb and Tracy Ireland). Two Patient and Public Involvement Contributors. 
Summary – This is an innovative collaborative public engagement project, which focuses on living beyond treatment for head and neck cancer and aims to disseminate novel research, recently completed within the University, into improved rehabilitation processes.

Project – Methods We Trust: Developing Trust Between Researchers and the Community About Clinical Trial Research.
Members – Liam Bishop and Delia Muir.
Summary – This project aims to build sustainable, equitable relationships between the Culturally Diverse Hub, the communities they serve and Leeds Institute for Clinical Trials Research (LICTR), and to further develop, evaluate and share inclusive community engagement methodologies. 

Project – The ‘YUK’ Microbiome Citizen Science Community Project.
Members – Yasmen Elsadek, Professor Sue Pavitt, Lucy Simpson, Poonam Anand, Dr Thuy Do, Jack Lynch, Emma Black, Dr Karen Vinall-Collier and Dr Julia Csikar, with (external) Holly Davies, Flavian Kow, Richard Boards and Jenny Boards.
Summary – This project addresses oral health inequality in disadvantaged teenagers in West Yorkshire embedded within the infrastructure of RAISED in Yorkshire, a collaborative public engagement programme.

Leeds University Business School (LUBS)

Project – Improving Research Culture Through Addressing Inequality in Research Funding.
Members – Dr Charlotte Stephenson, Jo Garrick, Hannah Preston, Shereen Robinson, Sarah Shaw and Professor Yingqi (Annie) Wei.
Summary – This project aims to develop an evidence-based research funding culture strategy to improve equality in research funding applications and grant attainments that will be implemented in LUBS.  

Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL)

Project – Parental Leave and Return to Work Group Coaching Programme Pilot.
Members – Dr Marjorie Boissinot, Jenny Love and Dr Fiona Gill.
Summary – The aim of this project is to provide tailored support for female research colleagues preparing to return to work after maternity, adoption or shared parental leave (collectively referred to here as parental leave), or recently returned from such leave, with the ultimate goal of increasing retention of women in academia.

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