About this challenge
Research is changing. New technology is transforming all aspects of research management and practice. How do we equip people with the skills they need for the future of research to ensure the UK keeps its position as a leader in research?
Read more about this challenge
Institutions, professional bodies, publishers and funders have changed their expectations of practice as requirements to unlock funding, recognition and collaboration. Researchers, and staff who support research, may not be aware of digitally-enhanced scholarship and methodology from elsewhere that could support and enhance their practice. Commercial and open-source research tools may be prevalent in one discipline, but unknown in a cognate field of study.
Likewise, training and guidance may present a variable experience as the current offer from diverse providers can be difficult to navigate. Ensuring all UK researchers and research support staff are informed and able to access the knowledge and tools they need easily would help prevent this patchiness.
Questions for you to consider
- How can we ensure that knowledge, good practice, data and tools are shared and reused?
- What skills are needed to get the most out of research? Who needs these skills and how can we ensure that these are developed?
- To what extent is it important that researchers understand their digital identity?
- How can we move beyond competencies and compliance towards expertise?
Thanks to all those who engaged in the discussion around research skills. The main themes that emerged were:
- Skills development needs to be considered in the context of a changing academic environment and culture as well as an incredibly diverse research staff demographic
- Many contexts affect researchers: the research culture in their subject area, the funding landscape, and the potential beneficiaries for their research
- Researcher developers are important stakeholders
- There is variable skills development available to researchers and researcher developers, but some good practice
These are large themes, overlapping with work already being carried out in the sector. We think we can see a role for Jisc in helping with this, particularly with regard to digital skills, and potentially working in partnership with other sector skills development support bodies.
We proposed to explore the idea below.
During the discussion we heard frequently that digital skills are essential for research but it is not always easy for people to ascertain what skills they need nor is it easy to find advice or resources on that help develop those skills.
To address these issues Jisc could collate advice, guidance and good practice in digital skills for research practice and make it available for all to share. In parallel we could also create a campaign to engage researchers in different disciplines to determine which useful digital skills they have developed and which they still feel they lack. We could build upon the approaches and tools we have developed during our digital capability work.
During the consultation we were asked: "why aren't researchers educating universities about the skills they need to remain relevant?”. Jisc could offer the opportunity for contribution. Our initial focus would be on working with the doctoral training centres, but we would encourage researchers at any career stage to participate. Research support staff in universities would also be a target audience for the advice, guidance and good practice, both to use it and contribute to it.
Thank you to everyone who voted.
There is demand for sharing good practice around research skills so we will work with other organisations active in this area to identify researcher requirements, collate what is already available and identify where there are gaps in current provision. As part of this we will try and develop a proof-of-concept hub that meets researcher requirements using material already available.
We will be sharing the initial results of our exploration in May. Keep an eye on the Jisc blog for announcements.