In response to the Government’s R&D People and Culture StrategyResearch England awarded Imperial £950K in December 2022 to support efforts in enhancing research culture. ​​

In January 2022, the PFDC was awarded £432,500 to work on the following areas:

  1. Tackling bullying and harassment;
  2. Improving research leadership skills across all career stages;
  3. Creating routes for collaboration and exchange with businesses, third-sector organisations and government;
  4. Securing and supporting the careers of researchers and associated professions;
  5. Diversifying recruitment, reward and recognition approaches at all career stages​

The award covered four key aspects of work:​

  1. Scoping projects
  2. ​Collaborative opportunities​
  3. Creation of new resources​
  4. Staffing​

To achieve Research England's five key objectives, the PFDC delivered a total of 21 projects in the 4 areas above. These are highlighted below.

Scoping projects

The PFDC (via the College Research Committee) commissioned projects derived from: ​

If you are interested in knowing more about any of the projects below and being involved with the recommendations, please fill out the following form: Staff Engagement with PFDC Scoping Projects Form.

Scoping projects

The Independent Research Fellows’ ‘Life-cycle’ at Imperial College London: A review of fellows’ experience of processes across departments

This project sought feedback from prospective and current fellows on their experiences of processes in the departments throughout the fellowship ‘life-cycle,’ from before applying to the end of the fellowship.  The report highlights best practice as well as gaps in provision to help improve practices and build upon the existing support in the departments.

The Independent Research Fellows’ ‘Life-cycle’ at Imperial College London: A review of fellows’ experience of processes across departments final report

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC leads Stefanie Edler-Wollstein and Dr Muhsincan Sesen

Improving the wellbeing of early career researchers through tangible actions against bullying and harassment

The project concluded with a report showcasing the methods adopted within HE and at Imperial to tackle bullying and harassment and improve research cultures. This informed the work of an advisory board, focused on the actions needed to improve ECRs’ wellbeing. 

Improving the wellbeing of early career researchers through tangible actions against bullying and harassment final report

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Stefanie Edler-Wollstein

Understanding ECR Career Perceptions

This project concluded with a report highlighting the factors influencing the career perceptions of Imperial ECRs and recommendations that encourage a balanced view of the range of career opportunities available to them, including those outside academia.

Understanding ECR Career Perceptions final report

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

What do women need to progress in academia?

This was an independent, qualitative study in response to the small representation of women in academia and at Imperial. The project team spent over 50 hours hearing from academic women about their experiences and challenges. 

What do women need to progress in academia final report

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Karen Hinxman

Quantifying and describing the experiences of long-term researchers (LTRs) at Imperial

This project was in response to the instability and stress of researchers’ fixed-term contracts, and investigated the numbers of long-term researchers at Imperial, their experiences, and how they are perceived at Imperial. Over 300 survey respondents were involved.

Quantifying and describing the experiences of long-term researchers (LTRs) at Imperial final report

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Karen Hinxman

Enhancing academic culture: The Role of Teaching Fellows and Learning Technologists

This project evaluated the current and potential future support provision for teaching fellows and learning technologists at Imperial. This involved 45 survey responses and 22 in-depth interviews.

Enhancing Academic Culture final report

Enhancing Academic Culture final report - accessible version

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

Collaborative projects

Seeds for success and Wings for ideas funds

In collaboration with Imperial Enterprise

11 postdocs were awarded the Seeds for Success fund, enabling them to work on preliminary data for a fellowship application. Five postdocs and fellows were awarded the Wings for Ideas fund, enabling research that might lead to a new venture.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

UROP placements

In collaboration with Research Fellows

This project successfully enabled six fellows to build their leadership skills by recruiting and managing one or two students each to support them on their projects. 

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Karen Hinxman

Extra spaces on "Become a science founder" programme

In collaboration with Wilbe

Ten spaces were funded on this four-week online course, which enables early career researchers to make the transitions to entrepreneurship and network with entrepreneurially minded peers from different disciplines.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

Leadership sessions for postdoc reps

In collaboration with Dr Steve Hutchinson

Six management development sessions were delivered to 77 postdoc reps between March and July 2022. These covered aspects such as resilience, managing teams and influencing skills, and received very positive feedback.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Stefanie Edler-Wollstein

Regaining a sense of empowerment

In collaboration with Dr Magdalena Bak-Maier (Make Time Count) and Postdoc Champions

This series of workshops was delivered to three different cohorts of postdocs and fellows; the number of participants ranged from 6 to 28. The sessions focused on time management, wellbeing and career management and were well received across all groups.

Please see a report about the Empowerment Workshop Series here: Empowerment Workshop Series final report.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Elena Virlan.

Blackett Lab Family Rising Stars Research School

In collaboration with Dr Jess Wade

The event took place between 29 June – 1 July 2022 and was attended by 25 Black physicists and engineers from across the UK. This was an opportunity to encourage ECRs from historically marginalised groups to aim for academic leadership roles. The feedback was very positive.

An article about this event was published in Nature and can be accessed from here: Lessons from a UK research school for Black physicists and engineers.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

Black Researchers of Imperial Symposium

In collaboration with Dr Tanweer Beleil

This event took place on 10 June 2022 and was attended by approximately 30 Black and mixed Black heritage PhD students and research staff at Imperial. It was an opportunity for networking and showcasing achievements and received very positive feedback.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

Resources: online materials and courses

Principal Investigators (PIs) and Probationary Lecturers (PLs) materials, including online training on Research project management aimed at new PIs

A set of essential online resources and tools was created to support PIs and PLs in managing their teams and developing their career. These will be launched and added to the PFDC and POD websites before the end of 2022.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC leads Stefanie Edler-Wollstein and Dr Karen Hinxman

Career conversations guidance for Postdoc Champions

With a focus on career transitions to outside academia, this project successfully identified the existing support available for ECRs and delivered a short training course and guidance tip sheet for the PFDC’s 28 Postdoc Champions.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Ines Perpetuo

Update of Managing your First Research Group

Existing PFDC course was successfully updated to a face-to-face two-day residential format with blended learning options, new materials on research culture and signposting to further management and leadership PFDC events.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Stefanie Edler-Wollstein

Update of Leadership in Research

Existing PFDC course was successfully updated to a face-to-face two-day residential format with blended learning options, new materials on research culture and signposting to further management and leadership PFDC events.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Stefanie Edler-Wollstein

Resilient Leadership in Action programme

New cross-faculty leadership development programme, attended by 60 Imperial researchers and academics of various levels of seniority. Formative evaluation evidenced significantly increased levels of knowledge, skills, and confidence.  

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Stefanie Edler-Wollstein

Confidence Coaching materials

Online resources for a six-week guided confidence course for women; the final session was attended by 10 participants and the overall programme received very positive feedback.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC leads Dr Ines Perpetuo and Bernie Babel

UNIque course

60 places were funded on this online career programme for university women, which received very positive feedback.

If you have any questions about this project, please email Elena Virlan.

Staffing

Salary costs for Project Manager, Fellows Consultant, Advisor and Coordinator posts

This involved an inclusive programme of support for research fellows developed by the Fellows Consultant, 49 days of careers consultations and mock interviews by the Advisor, and admin support to facilitate these and the PFDC projects from the Project Manager and Coordinator.

If you have any questions about this project, please email PFDC lead Dr Liz Elvidge