Exploring the turning points in researchers’ lives


Vitae have just put out a new publication that I worked on with Bill Law. The publication is called Exploring the turning points in researchers’ lives and sets out an approach to careers work called three scene storyboarding.

Storyboarding aims to help researchers to set down their experiences, to think about their careers and to take action based on this reflection. Storyboarding is a creative technique which asks researchers to think about their lives in narrative terms and to set down their experience in the form of drawings. It is an innovative technique that asks them to think about their careers in an unfamiliar way. We found  that it can be a challenging technique for professionals to get started with. However, this report shows that the storyboarding approach can be useful and that it can expand any researcher’s career-management repertoire.

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts about storyboarding from anyone who has used it or is thinking about using it.


Key outputs from the #dr12vitae at Nottingham

We ran an event on using social media for research today.

I was really impressed with what participants in #dr12vitae came up with today.

Have a look at what they produced

Then at the end we got people to send an email to their future me

A great day!

Digital Researcher – Nottingham University 19th October #dr12vitae

Here is a presentation that I’ve prepared with Emma Gillaspy from Vitae. We’ll be working with a group of researchers tomorrow to try and convince them that they want to get more engaged using digital tools in their research practice.



Networking: vulgar and scary? Insights from a study of how university research staff mange their careers – A NICEC Seminar

Wednesday 9th May 2012    5.00-6.30 pm
Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD

It is often said that careers are more a matter of who you know than of what you know. Whilst this may be slightly overplayed, it is likely that social networks play at least as strong a role in careers today as they ever have. To some extent the operation of social networks in careers has been theorised and researched, but empirical evidence is still quite thin on the ground. In this presentation we will report some of the quantitative and qualitative findings from our recent study (funded by Vitae) of nearly 500 research staff in eight UK universities. We examine the researchers’ social networks, how they use those networks, what if anything stops researchers from using their networks, and the likely consequences for career satisfaction of networks and networking. Overall, the results suggest that researchers potentially have career-friendly networks, but do not always make good use of them. We highlight some of their reservations about networking. We suggest that whilst researchers may hold these reservations more
than many other groups, a closer look at what prevents networking behaviour is warranted.

This research was undertaken by John Arnold, Professor of Work Psychology at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield Management School; Laurie Cohen, Professor of Organisation Studies at the School of Business and Economics, Loughborough Unversity; Rebecca Harpley, a researcher currently working for the charity Action for Children.

John Arnold will present the research to the seminar in which there will be opportunities for participants to pool ideas and experiences of how to encourage people to engage in networking to contribute to their career satisfaction.

To book please contact Stephen McNair, NICEC Fellow.
Email stephen.mcnair@niace.org.uk  Tel. 01603 737830

Attendance is free of charge to NICEC Fellows and Members, £20 to non members and £15 to students. 

Participants who are not NICEC Fellows or Members:  please send a cheque, or bring cash on the day.  Cheques, payable to NICEC Ltd., should be sent to Dr Charles Jackson (NICEC Treasurer), 9 Preston Park Avenue, Brighton BN1 6HJ.  Ask for an invoice if you need one.  Those who become members of NICEC for the current year will be able to recover this charge. 

See you online for #dr12vitae

If you’ve been following this blog you will have noticed that there is a lot of activity around an event that I keep calling #dr12vitae. The event is actually Vitae’s annual Digital Researcher event which I’ve now been involved with for three years. See all of my blog posts relating the Digital Researcher.  Essentially it is a big workshop/conference at the British Library where we try and convince researchers that there is value in getting involved in social media.

One of the good things about the event is that there will be a lot happening online over the course of today. If you have got any time to follow the event then wander along to http://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers/346891/Digital-Researcher-online.html and follow the #dr12vitae on Twitter. This year we are making a real effort to broadcast as much of the content online either before the event or on the day.

See you online!