An Introduction to the Research Staff Representative Committee

Written by Dr Martin Eichmann, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Immunobiology & Chair of the Research Staff Representative Committee

Some of us “research staff” will be aware that in early 2017 we relaunched the College wide Research Staff Representative Committee (RSRC) but not too many will know what it is here for. In my role as Chair of the RSRC I would like to give you a quick introduction to the RSRC, its members, goals and how you can interact with it.

Important things first: The RSRC is a “by us for us” initiative for research staff – by that I mean staff members on fixed-term contracts whose primary role is doing research, of which there are close to 2,000 at King’s. The main purpose of the RSRC is to be the collective “voice” of research staff, to speak up and represent their opinions on King’s committees to engage in new policies affecting research staff and facilitate agendas promoting career development for research staff. The RSRC is inclusive. It consists of representatives from most faculties (themselves being research staff and members of the respective faculty research staff network) and one member representing Technicians, Research Assistants and Teaching Fellows.

We promote our views on policies affecting research staff at the highest level of the university at the College Research Committee and on career development activities at the Centre for Research Staff Development Oversight Group. The RSRC will facilitate sharing of best practices between research staff networks at faculty level and guarantee effective two-way communication between research staff networks and the university to promote more equality throughout King’s. We have set out our aims to promote research staff career development, increase the visibility of research staff and clarify the roles of research staff, all of which are set out in more detail on our new webpage.

So far our views have already been heard through providing feedback to the College’s response to Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) consultation on the second Research Excellence Framework (REF) and to the College-wide teaching policy for research staff as well as promoting and providing feedback to the King’s Behaviours policy.

The RSRC reps are here for you so please get in touch with them or email the RSRC. if you want to contribute or share your opinions with us. I would also like to encourage research staff to actively participate in their local departmental of faculty research staff network which ultimately feed into the RSRC.

I hope that the RSRC will evolve so that all research staff see it as their means to voice their opinions and actively influence policy at College level to lead to a more inclusive decision making process.

Ways to Get your Voice Heard

Written by Dr Kathy Barrett, University Lead for Research Staff Development, Centre for Research Staff Development 

While I was doing my PhD I had a colleague who arrived in our research group as a fairly timid postdoc.  Over time she gained more and more in confidence in speaking to the group about her research.  She hadn’t obviously practiced this skill, so I asked her where her confidence had come from.  She told me the source was the amateur dramatics she had been doing outside of work.  This opened my eyes to the myriad ways in which we can build our own capabilities, not just the obvious ones.

Being heard is part of your role in any profession.  If you wish to climb the ladder the people around you need to know you exist.  Within any organisation, those who are valued are more often the people who contribute not just through the obvious channels, for example in a university by doing research, but also by their citizenship.  While it could be argued that recent bureaucracy, for example the REF, is eroding this aspect of academic life1, there are still Higher Education Institutes that place a high value on it.  In fact, Exeter University has a webpage2 devoted to academic citizenship outlining the expectations placed on staff.  Even if you are content with where you are, reminding others of your existence every so often will mean that you continue to be included in interesting projects.

Learning how to get your voice heard in an effective manner is not necessarily something that will come overnight, as my previous colleague and now good friend learnt and showed me.  Yet by continuing to challenge yourself through new channels it is surprising what you can achieve.  Engaging with academic citizenship can also give you an understanding of how the university works, an insight that can prove very useful when you are trying to make things happen.

There are a multitude of opportunities at King’s to help you build your self-esteem and contribute to academic life, both small and large.  We highlighted some of these in the exhibition3 at the recent Research Staff Event 2017.  As a minimum, just responding to surveys such as the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) can result in the Centre for Research Staff Development being able to provide you with more relevant activities and better support for you in your role.  We have recently run a workshop on impact as a result of your contribution to the CROS and are gearing up, in collaboration with the Research Staff Representative Committee, to implement policies that raise the profile of research staff within King’s.  Chances are we will be offering you the opportunity to take up your role as an academic citizen and contribute to this project.  Who knows, this could even put you in the running for a King’s Award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Research Staff Experience4 next year!

  1. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/is-academic-citizenship-under-strain/2018134.article
  2. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/exeteracademic/academiccommunity/academiccitizenship/
  3. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/innovation/research/Centre-for-Research-Staff-Development/Research-Staff-Event-2017.aspx
  4. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/innovation/research/Centre-for-Research-Staff-Development/Kings-Award.aspx

Highlights from the National Postdoc Meeting

Written by Dr Kennedy Nkhoma, Research Fellow, Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation

I attended a two day National Postdoc meeting organised by the Postdocs of Cambridge Society at the University of Cambridge. The main objectives were to:

  • Input into the review of the Concordat document
  • Discuss the impact of postdoc researcher’s contribution to the REF
  • Discuss with employers, funders and policy makers on postdoc experiences related to the concordat and REF.

Day 1

On the first day a presentation was delivered by Dr Katie Wheat, the Higher Education Senior Manager at Vitae. The purpose of this workshop was to provide a cross-sector input into the review of the Concordat, a central policy document for higher education in the UK, currently undergoing a review process coordinated by Research Councils UK from the perspective of postdocs. She outlined the seven principles in the Concordat: (1) recruitment, selection and retention (2) recognition and value (3) equipping and supporting researchers in a diverse mobile, global research environment, (4) personal and career development (5) researchers responsibility (6) diversity and equality (7) implementation and review.  We were then divided into seven groups and each group discussed one principle. Each group discussed their experiences, ideas for development, adaptation and revision, and ideas for evaluation.

The following themes came out of group discussions and presentations:

  • The Concordat is not visible to researchers, most participants felt they only heard about the document when this meeting was called for.
  • There is a problem with the structure of the principles, for instance Principles 3 and 4 are similar, they can be combined to be one principle, however representation of researchers under principle 4 is very important and should be its own principle.
  • Mentorship: it is important for researchers to find a mentor who is not their line manager and they should also mentor others.
  • Career development for Principal Investigator (PI): The need for PIs to attend training on how to manage postdoc researchers.
  • Research staff associations to be encouraged and involved in decision making.
  • Financial commitment of funders and employers on career development: for instance principle 5 does not address funders and employers, it only addresses researchers who are not signatories of the Concordat.

Day 2

On day two we discussed the impact of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) on Postdocs. Three main areas were discussed:

  • Eligibility: There are plans to change the eligibility criteria to include any researchers with ‘a measure of independence’. There is little understanding of if postdocs are part of the eligibility process and who is included. Postdocs are not fully involved in the process of REF development. There is a need for a course/funded training to have a better understanding of the REF and how they may be affected.
  • Collaborate – Collaboration needs an experienced researcher such as a PI since postdoc researchers have limited experience. However PIs have to provide an environment for postdocs to be involved in the process in order to gain experience.
  • Portability vs non-portability: The current policy recommends non-portability which would mean that papers published by an individual in one institution stay with that institution when research staff leave in an effort to prevent the gaming previously seen by institutions buying up outputs. The main take home message is perhaps double weighting of inputs, so that previously unreferenced individuals can take their outputs with them and the hosting institution also keep ownership. However institutions should try to provide incentives to research staff to retain them in their role.

Conclusion

The last session was a panel discussion with funders from the Wellcome Trust and MRC, employers from Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and policy makers from the Royal Society. Issues in relation to the Concordat and REF were presented to the panel for their views.

The panel agreed with the issues raised, in particular emphasising that it is both the researchers’ and employers’ responsibility to make choices and important decisions about their career. Funders strongly recommended participants to demonstrate capacity to manage funding, resources, and staff to be able to win a grant or fellowship.

The next concordat review takes place next year, therefore issues raised by the postdocs will be taken into consideration during the review. Participants agreed that meetings should be held annually and rotated.

It was exciting and rewarding to be involved in reviewing the Concordat which influences my working environment at King’s. It was interesting to learn from other postdocs who share similar experiences and challenges about the uncertainty of career paths, especially in relation to fixed-term contracts. This showed me that we are all in this together.

King’s Behaviours Green Paper: Research Staff Town Hall

Written by Sarah-Jane Johnson, Strategic Project Manager (High Performance Culture), Strategy, Planning & Analytics

On 7 and 8 September the Research Staff Representatives Committee hosted Town Hall meetings for research staff to discuss King’s Behaviours with Evelyn Welch and Robert Lechler and the King’s Behaviours project team.

We heard some great examples of behaviours that research staff find helpful, such as a department that meets regularly over tea and cake to get to know each other; team meetings where PIs share insights into their current work; and academics who invest time and energy in research staff development. There were also examples of when things go wrong – often unintentionally – which result, for example, in people feeling isolated, or in decisions being made in a way that does not feel transparent and fair to all staff.

We were asked who King’s Behaviours are for and whether they would be mandatory

King’s is made up of its people; our behaviour has an impact on our own and our colleagues’ experience of work, as well as the experience of our students.

King’s Behaviours is a framework to support the success of all individuals at King’s, whether they are research staff, academic staff, professional services or students. It is intended to empower people to reflect on their strengths and to think about how they can be even more successful their work and interactions with others.

The framework is not intended to be a top-down code of conduct to which people need to conform. Identifying the behaviours that we already do well and those that we aspire to will help to facilitate robust yet collegiate debate, and help us develop ourselves and support the development of others. It is intended to be a shared language which encourages individuality, creativity, debate and freedom of expression, but also provides a basis to constructively challenge unhelpful approaches.

We were asked how people could engage with the evolution of King’s Behaviours

We have approached identifying King’s Behaviours as a discussion across the King’s community including academics, researchers, professional services and students. The behaviours you see in the green paper emerged from real examples of behaviours identified by nearly 100 members of the King’s community which have been anonymised and made more broadly applicable. For more information on how this was achieved, please see the green paper.

At the time of writing, over 350 staff and students have responded to the survey on the green paper. This feedback will be reflected in the next iteration of the behaviours and a summary will be published on the intranet. We will continue to work collaboratively with the King’s community on the evolution of the behaviours through the autumn term and beyond.

We were asked how the behaviours would be embedded into our day-to-day lives at King’s

King’s Behaviours will be incorporated into processes to help us develop ourselves and our teams, recruit new staff, and other people processes. We are asking where we should prioritise implementing King’s Behaviours in the survey.

The green paper is a detailed document, because we would like feedback on the full framework. However, when King’s Behaviours is introduced into processes, the tools will be based on the framework but will be more easily digestible. We are exploring a range of training and self-assessment approaches to help people get the most out of King’s Behaviours.

The survey on King’s Behaviours closes today, 22 September. You can keep up with developments by visiting our intranet page. You can also contact us directly on kingsbehaviours@kcl.ac.uk

Experiences of LGBTQ+ Doctoral Researchers

Written by Dr Ross English, University Lead for Doctoral Student Development, Centre for Doctoral Studies

Earlier this year I was one-half of a research collaboration which set out to investigate the experiences of LGBTQ+ doctoral researchers in the UK. This project came out of last year’s Vitae International Researcher Development Conference where a small group of delegates shared their personal experiences. It was clear that there were issues to be addressed but little evidence had been gathered from which to start a conversation on a sector-wide basis.Though this project was aimed at doctoral researchers, it’s emerging findings may also resonate with research staff.

Studies of LGBTQ+ students and staff have been undertaken but doctoral students are either absent from these reports or lumped in with ‘students’ or ‘postgraduates’; the latter including a much larger Masters cohort. The question we had was whether there was anything in the PhD experience which created or exacerbated challenges for LGBTQ+ students. So I and my co-investigator, Kieran Fenby-Hulse of Coventry University, launched a survey which gathered responses from 224 current PhD students from 47 UK Institutions.

The stories the responses told were rich and varied, heartening and disheartening, and too numerous to do justice to here. Collating and summarising the responses has not been straight-forward as we attempt to balance identifying common issues while respecting the unique nature of each person’s experience. We did not, for instance, want to artificially categorise respondents’ identities for the purposes of running correlations. We also did not want to dismiss experiences via statistics; e.g. that only 1.3% of our respondents said that they know for certain that their primary supervisor is not LGBTQ+ friendly could be presented as a positive finding for the sector, losing the fact that, just in our relatively small sample, there are three people currently going through that experience.

As for our findings, they are still taking their final shape but some common themes are emerging: There are issues of awareness within many people’s research environment; that heteronormative, cisnormative and binary gender assumptions (unless corrected) can lead to issues faced by LGBTQ+ doctoral students remaining side-lined. Many respondents commented on the invisibility of LGBTQ+ role models in their field and the subsequent question of whether one needed to fit-in to progress. The challenges of operating in an international environment came out clearly; where students are expected to research, attend conferences, collaborate with or look for jobs in areas of the world that are culturally and/or legally LGBTQ+ hostile. Explicit homo- and trans-phobia still raises its head and the role of senior staff in either enabling or challenging such behaviour was clear. Where the supervisory team fits in to this picture (indeed, for some, the question of whether it does at all) was the issue that divided our respondents most.

We are aware that the majority of the issues raised are not PhD specific and hope that our findings will have wider relevance. We also are conscious of not just seeking the problems people face and are keen to recognise those LGBTQ+ students whose experience of doctoral study has been an open and positive one.

The results of the study will be submitted for publication in the next couple of months and a full report will be released in early 2018.

If you are interested in carrying out a similar study about the experiences of LGBTQ+ research staff, please contact ross.english@kcl.ac.uk.

Supporting BME Research Staff

Written by Dr Bernadine Idowu, Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Dental Institute

As a Black Minority & Ethnic (BME) female scientific Early Career Researcher (ECR), I had always wondered why BME staff are under-represented in academic posts at lecturer grades and above in both STEM and non-STEM subjects. Prior to working in Diversity & Inclusion I had not seen any data, but heard people talking about it, I however, did not fully appreciate the magnitude of it. When the opportunity arose to begin to understand the challenges of under representation under the then Manager Ms Debbie Epstein (Diversity & Inclusion Team), I jumped at the opportunity and began to quickly realise, that one reason could be since there are not many role models, many BME ECR staff would not apply and some that did apply and were unsuccessful gave up, after the first attempt.

Looking back, I have been extremely fortunate as a researcher within the different institutions I have worked at, I put that down to having supervisors and mentors, that have always supported me. I feel it is my duty to give back and that is why I have become a mentor. I love being a mentor as it is so rewarding. Being an award winning scientist, encourages my mentees, both PhD scientists and undergraduates wishing to pursue a career in science.

King’s as an institution sees under-representation of BME staff as one the key priorities to tackle, in order that we can enrich our academic community and provide role models for future generations of academics and researchers. We have initiatives such as the Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter Marks which focuses on gender and race equality respectively. We also have a new King’s Diversity Mentoring Scheme which is open to academic and professional services staff from diverse groups, prioritising those with at two protected characteristics.

With the support of the Principal and senior Leaders such as Chris Mottershead (Diversity & Inclusion Champion) we aimed to address this by delivering the first ever conference of its kind, i.e. ‘BME ECR how to stay in academia’, providing key tools to help us stay in academia. Tools such as applying for fellowships, the power of mentoring, the importance of networking and finally, prioritising caring for health and well-being! The theme of the day was to be Positive, Practical and Pragmatic (3P’S) to empower the delegates to be bold and take the next steps.

Briefly, there were two sessions, the morning session started with an opening address from the Principal, followed by BME academics from King’s and various Universities within London and UK, all invited to talk about their experiences and to give the delegates some advice. The afternoon session was more interactive with workshops which covered the above tools required to stay in academia. Networking was encouraged throughout the day.

It was a well-attended conference consisting of undergraduate students, PhD students, ECR, academic BME and non-BME staff, also invited guests and some members of staff that heard about the program and wanted to be inspired by seeing and hearing BME academics come together in one space, the Great Hall, the space really did live up to its name.

There were so many positive feedbacks, one which really stood out is as follows “It was a relief to have what felt like a private, personal ‘failing’ identified, named and reframed. The description of the speaker’s successes was very inspirational. We came away feeling validated, with important tips and ideas for personal development and certainly empowered. The quality, format of the day, choice of speakers and food were all excellent”.

My only hope is that this is the beginning of things to come, such gathering provides a powerful & inspirational message to ECR. This model needs to be embedded in various University cultures, only then will we begin to witness a steady increase in BME staff in academia.

Beyond Athena SWAN – A Faculty Perspective

Written by Sabina Khanom, IoPPN, Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Project Manager

Mention of the Athena SWAN Charter is likely to provoke an array of responses from university staff and students, which can range from subdued pride in the hard work of a Self-Assessment Team (SAT) that leads to awards (bronze, silver or gold), or a thinly veiled rolling of the eyes as in ‘oh not that again’. Despite the various individual opinions, Athena SWAN has undoubtedly become a renowned vehicle for change within universities in the UK.

Our Athena SWAN journey at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience started in 2012 and as we looked at a number of different types of data from across the faculty, a pattern emerged of gender inequalities. For example, at the IoPPN around 65% of our postdocs were women, yet the numbers more than halved at professor level. Why was this? Initial arguments we faced were that women were ‘off having babies’ and ‘were less ambitious’ and when we raised the issue of implicit bias potentially playing a role we were told ‘scientists have no biases’. As we delved deeper, it was clear that biases and other systematic barriers meant that at a number of critical stages across academic careers, we were not retaining women.

Over the last five years our SAT, Postdoc Network and Research Innovation Committee have been addressing some of these issues in a number of ways:

  • Representation of research staff on departmental and IoPPN committees
  • Providing career development and support such as Junior THRIVE and proposal writing workshops
  • Better representation of women in decision making committees
  • Increasing awareness and access to HR policies (shared parental leave) and workplace flexibility
  • Rewarding and recognising the contribution research staff are making using initiatives such as Independent Researcher Awards and the Honorary Lecturer Scheme
  • Raising profile of role models through Inspiring Women portraits and Women in Mind interview series
  • Diversity and inclusion training on various topics such as Implicit Bias, Dealing with Microagressions (subtle bullying tactics), Intercultural Communications and Imposter Syndrome

Although the Athena SWAN charter previously focused on removing inequities women faced in STEMM careers, it has evolved to include broader gender identities and also to consider how gender intersects with other protected characteristics (intersectionality). Along with King’s Race Equality Charter and Stonewall award, we too have broadened our remit and are working on diversity and inclusion using an intersectional lens, which should benefit a broader range of people.

With the launch of King’s 2029 strategy, our work on creating a diverse and inclusive environment has become imperative.

What can you do? Here are four things we can all do:

  1. Understand our biases and learn how they manifest in the working environment
  2. Use inclusive language – who are we excluding?
  3. Get involved in some of our activities, give us feedback so we can improve
  4. Be an active bystander – speak up if you notice bias or discrimination

The Value of Diversity & Inclusion in Research

Written by Sarah Guerra, Director of Diversity & Inclusion

At a research-intensive organisation such as King’s, it is important that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ do not remain in the hallways of HR. Research staff, although distinct in their roles, face many of the same diversity challenges on an operational level as other types of university staff, most perceptibly in the low levels of female or BME representation at more senior levels. This also extends to other challenges such as the persistence of low levels of disclosures around key protected characteristics such as disability and sexual orientation (and a further silence around why this might occur), the difficulties facing working parents as well as other structural issues such as unclear and informal reporting procedures around bullying and harassment.

In recent years there have been marked efforts to create a more inclusive working environment for all staff, including research staff. Mentoring schemes, such as the Diversity Mentoring Scheme at King’s have sought to provide female, trans and non-binary, BME mentees from often marginalised backgrounds an exceptional and unique opportunity to meet with a more experienced and trained mentor to identify, define and progress towards professional goals that will enhance their career progression, regardless of whether they want to stay in academia or pursue a career path beyond academia. Many mentees have spoken about how the experience has boosted their confidence and helped them identify and reach their professional goals.

King’s prides itself on being a leader and innovator in Higher Education diversity and inclusion by championing such schemes as the Diversity Mentoring Scheme, but there is always more that can be done. I feel that our challenge will be transforming good intentions and goodwill into positive, meaningful personal action in sufficient volume to create sustainable organisational change. On a practical level, this means looking over our behaviours, language, processes and systems with an analytical lens to confront some home truths, as discomforting as it might be. For example, understanding research staff demographics and recognising who is participating and succeeding, and more importantly, who is not, and then acting to change those dynamics in our research environments.

Our Diversity & Inclusion team is a hub of experience and expertise and is able to advise and support the King’s community to understand what it means to be equitable and inclusive as an employer and educator and how research staff can get involved in the various diversity networks and events at King’s. Six weeks into their roles, the team is busy tinkering away on our various programs such as the Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charter Marks, disability access at King’s, the Parental Leave Fund, the Carers’ Career Development Fund as well as our Diversity Mentoring Scheme, just to name a few!

To truly promote diversity and inclusion across research environments at King’s, we need to listen, learn, be honest, brave and bold, and I hope that I can provide the confidence and leadership we need to catalyse the change we are looking for.

Getting Your Voice Heard. Our Challenge to You!

Written by Dr Kathy Barrett, University Lead for Research Staff Development 

Is there anyone out there who does not want to be heard?  As an academic finding a way to engage others with your work is vital.  When we sit in a research seminar listening to an eloquent and illuminating speaker we typically enjoy the experience so much more than we do with those who haven’t quite mastered the art.  When we read a beautifully crafted description of research, be it a paper, monograph or book, we derive almost as much pleasure from the writing as we do from the content.  My experience of such papers, and yes, even as a scientist I have read some like this, is that I have instantly wanted to meet the author. How many of us wish that we could be that speaker or writer!

The Research Staff Event 2017 is all about finding the secret to effective communication, with fellow academics about your research, with others within the university setting about how we work together and with the wider world about the work we do and the benefits of that work to society.  There will be workshops at the event addressing a wide variety of areas and modes of communication.  There will be something to suit all, and also to explore new methods that could be your key to unlocking the door to more effective communication and new audiences.

To add an extra challenge and enhance your opportunity to put your learning into practice we are including a competition for the best communication produced on the day.  The challenge is to produce an example of communication that gets the message across succinctly and effectively.  In the afternoon workshops we invite you to work towards producing this example.  It could be a series of tweets, a blog, a film, a written text, a busk, a public address, a film or anything else that can be submitted and viewed in two minutes or less.

The criteria for judging your competition entries are that your communication piece be engaging, informative and compulsive.  Judging will happen at the event by our panel of experts and prizes awarded to the winning team.  After the event we will upload all competition entries onto the event website so you can all view them.  We may even run a people’s choice version!

Workshop places are limited.  To ensure that you are able to submit an entry in your preferred medium, register for the Research Staff Event and your choice of workshop now!  Deadline for registration is 10am on Wednesday 23rd August.

After the event we will be offering up to £2,000 through our King’s Community Fund for projects aimed at getting your voice as research staff heard within King’s.  This could be, for example but not limited to, research into how we communicate, events or policy making.  More information about the fund and a workshop on internal communication that will be held before the application deadline will be posted after the Research Staff Event on our website and in our newsletter.

The King’s Collaborator Locator (KoLo) – Summer Roundup

Written by Dr K. Faith Lawrence, Departments of Digital Humanities & Liberal Arts, Dr Arna van Engelen, Department of Biomedical Engineering & Dr Alan Brailsford, Department of Pharmacy and Forensic Science

The KoLo project envisioned the creation of a lightweight site which King’s staff could use to find others with similar research or professional interests, supporting knowledge exchange and collaboration. This was an ambitious aim, especially given the commercial development costs of these types of applications.

For all of us involved in this project it has been a learning experience, one that we have relished and which is not over yet. When we submitted our application after the first Research Staff event, we were just three people from three different departments who had just happened to be in the same event session and had ended up gathered around the same post-it note. While all of us had experience working collaboratively on projects, none of us had experience leading a project of this type. We learned to things very quickly – you need to be inventive (and lucky) with the budgeting and your timetable will get thrown off by events that you can’t control.

We were able to put in a successful bid because of the support that we received from outside our immediate team: the King’s Digital Lab, who we planned to work with on the hosting and backend development, were interested enough in our project that they were willing to put some of their own resources into the development, covering the difference between their normal quote and the amount that we had available, and the Department of Digital Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities who both offered funding for the project, which allowed us to lower the amount that we were applying for from the King’s Community Fund.

One of the principles of the Community Fund was that you needed to minimise the effect on your normal daily work. The King’s Digital Lab was able to take on the back-end development and hosting but we couldn’t afford for them to also take on the front-end development. This meant trying to work out ways to get more people involved without increasing our budget. Our answer came in the form of some really great student interns, to whom we are very grateful for all their hard work: MA students from the Department of Digital Humanities: Silvia Corbara, who lead on front-end design and workflow, Meizhi Wei and Jiachen Cui, who were involved with design and headed the front-end development, and our KURF research Fellow Phillip Sakellarios, a BA Geography student, who is working on HTML development and data analytics.

Where are we now? We have the basic data model and webpage designs that we will use for the prototype, we received our ethics approval (Ref: LRS-16/17-4992) which means that we can use real data, we have a back-end system based on the datamodel waiting for the front-end to be ready, we ran a small workshop for our developers going over how to use JavaScript so they create the connection between the front and back ends and we have started creating the pages based on the designs. We have also had expressions of interest from our project from people across the university who have expressed interest in the project, some of whom have been collecting data with similar idea in mind.

The project, or at least this stage, will be over soon and, for some of us in the project team, the end of our time at King’s as well. We hope, before we go, to leave the seed to something bigger which will be of use to research staff, academics, professional services staff and all the people at the university who might find something great when chance meetings happen to throw them together around a (digital) post-it.