Our University Strategy, Universal Values, Global Change: University of Leeds Strategy 2020 to 2030, provides a blueprint for a values-driven university that harnesses its expertise in research and education to help shape a better future, working through collaboration to tackle inequalities, achieve societal impact and drive change. Focusing on three core themes – Community, Culture, and Impact – it sets out our ambition to offer a collaborative, supportive and safe environment for the entire University community and emphasises the importance of teamwork and diversity. Our Statement on Research Culture reflects these values. Our research culture initiatives – starting formally in 2021 – will be key to delivering the University strategy.
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 the University of Leeds, we recognise the value of everyone involved in delivering research, including research participants, collaborators and partners; research enablers, such as technicians and people in professional services; and researchers themselves – from students to academic staff.
Equally, we believe that all members of our research community have a role to play in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture, and that a good research culture benefits everyone involved in the research endeavour and has a positive impact on our research. We have a collective responsibility towards all research stakeholders to strive to be good citizens, locally, nationally and globally.
We believe that Leeds is well known for its collaborative and collegiate approach, which facilitates outstanding interdisciplinary research that in turn supports both innovation and enterprise, as well as research-based education and teaching.
We also acknowledge that our research culture is not perfect. We recognise that our research environment is not as diverse as we would like it to be, that we inherit a hierarchical culture in which contributions to the research endeavour have not been equally recognised, and that we need to do better to provide a safe and supportive environment that enables individuals or groups within our research community to tell us when things are going wrong.
In December 2020, we began running a series of Culture Cafés to gather views from across our research community on the challenges they face, what we are doing well as an institution, and what a better research culture might look like at Leeds. These Cafés form part of an ongoing project to promote a positive research culture, and the discussions have helped us to propose solutions for change.
In autumn 2021, the University appointed its inaugural Dean for Research Culture. This post is key to developing and implementing our research culture strategy, in collaboration with the Deans for EDI, Pro-Deans for Research, senior Professional Services colleagues, and colleagues from across the University
Our Research Culture Statement is our commitment to achieving positive change. It sets out as series of actions to promote a more supportive, inclusive, and collaborative research culture across five broad themes:
- Personal development, reward and recognition
- Open research and impact
- Equality, diversity and inclusion in research
- Responsible research and innovation
- A collegiate and supportive environment
Our Research Culture statement is also a starting point. We recognise that building an inclusive and supportive Research Culture at Leeds will be a dynamic process. We are committed to embedding good practice as it emerges, to embracing new opportunities, and to continuously reviewing our progress.
2021/22 is our discovery phase, during which we are running extensive consultations with research stakeholders. We are holding conversations with diverse individuals and groups, spanning academic and Professional Services colleagues from across the University. We are forming strategic groups such as the Responsible Metrics group, the Open Research group, and the Research Culture steering group, and forming allegiances with external bodies such as the N8 Research Culture group. We are also working to ensure our initiatives are adequately resourced as we develop a full strategy and action plan for research culture in 2022/23.
Statement written by members of the Interim Research Culture group, autumn 2021.
Lisa Hill, Head of Research Development
Helen Gleeson, Cavendish Professor of Physics
Oliver Harlen, Pro-Dean Research and Innovation, Engineering & Physical Sciences
Lata Narayanaswamy, Associate Professor in the Politics of Global Development
Emma Spary, Researcher Development and Culture Team Lead
Ceri Williams, Director of Research and Innovation
Luke Windsor, Dean of the Doctoral College
Cat Davies, Dean of Research Culture