Crowdhelix: Your Gateway to Industry Collaborations

Written by Dr Riam Kanso; co-Founder of Crowdhelix, a cross-border collaboration platform

As an early career researcher at Oxford and UCL, I had very little knowledge of the different ways in which academia and industry work together. The ‘publish or perish’ mentality put a considerable amount of pressure on academics like myself to focus on their specific projects for career advancement. Some of my colleagues eventually ended up taking positions with pharmaceutical or consultancy firms, but the impression was that they abandoned academia altogether, with diminishing chances of returning the longer they stayed without publishing. Many of my peers and I mistakenly assumed that you either had to be in one camp or the other.

Over the years it became clear that the landscape of cutting-edge collaborative research was complex, involving multiple players, and changing every day. Researchers from both academia and industry are joining forces to deliver pioneering research programmes, paving the way for innovative services and products. This is evidenced by the updated requirements of funding programmes such as the €80 billion European Union “Horizon 2020” programme; which actively encourages collaborative consortia that include universities, SMEs, and corporates.

To add to this, universities and academics are increasingly encouraged by government to collaborate with industry partners; which is reflected in research excellence and impact ratings, and subsequent funding decisions.

Similarly, companies are actively reaching out to universities in the spirit of open innovation; relying on the nuanced skillsets of academics to help develop their products and services. They are reaping the benefits of departing from a ‘closed innovation’ mindset, where the ‘secrets of the trade’ are kept confidential. One such company is HP, which leverages the expertise of leading academic labs to improve its technology. These cross-border collaborations can take the shape of consultancies, short projects, placements, and long collaborations; to name a few.

Given that there is a pressing need from both academics and industry to share skills, it is sometimes difficult to resolve the problem of “information asymmetry”.  For example, academics do not always know what projects are going on within companies, while companies do not have a clear picture of the skillsets available in a certain university research department. This is why my colleagues and I created Crowdhelix, a cross-border platform that connects industry and academia for collaborations on grant proposals and other projects.

So far, our members have been successful in obtaining 7% of the €80 billion Horizon 2020 budget, a number that continues to increase every day. One such example is Professor Rajiv Jalan and his team from University College London.  He now leads a €7.8 million project called ALIVER,  funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The ALIVER consortium has developed a novel and innovative liver dialysis machine that will help the liver to naturally regenerate or, where that does not prove possible, to keep patients alive and healthy until a donated liver becomes available. Two universities, four hospitals, two foundations, and four industrial partners will work together to deliver this project. One of the industry partners is IBM; who were matched to this consortium via Crowdhelix.

In projects such is Professor Jalan’s above; relationships between researchers from academia and industry deepen and strengthen, paving the way for further collaborations. In some cases, academics can end up taking employment opportunities with industry, or engage on other collaborative projects with an R&D component.

As the chasm between academia and industry begins to close, an increasing number of opportunities will arise for researchers everywhere. It will be exciting to see what the future holds.

For researchers in King’s College London, please feel free to sign up to our platform for free, and potentially meet a future collaborator! Sign up for CrowdHelix here

Writing a Strong Application for the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship

Written by Dr Elizabeth Morrow, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Political Economy

Like any written assignment, it is essential to start work early on your Leverhulme ECF application to put your best foot forward.  Applying for the ECF is a multi-stage process.  At first instance, you need to identify a mentor within the department who can support your application.  I was lucky enough for my mentor – John Meadowcroft – to be someone who I had co-authored with and who was therefore familiar with my work.  My mentor and I met over a month before the KCL internal sort deadline to discuss ideas for my research proposal which helped to refine my thinking, and he provided me with invaluable advice throughout the application process.

Once I had crafted a preliminary proposal I met with Camilla Darling and David Newsome from the Arts and Science Research Office and cannot speak highly enough about the support I received from them: Camilla and David provided me with examples of previous successful ECF applications, suggested other people within the university who I should meet with to discuss my application and shared insights into how my research proposal would fit within the department and university.

Because your proposal will not necessarily be read by experts within your field, it is important that it be interesting and accessible to a lay audience.  After running some of my ideas past my friends and family (both within and outside of academia) I was concerned that the way I had framed my initial proposal was too narrow and academic.  For me, getting the balance right between academic rigor and accessibility was the most difficult part of the application and required multiple iterations.

Once I found out that my proposal had been put forward after the KCL internal sort I had further meetings with the Arts and Science Research Office and my mentor to discuss the preparation of my ECF budget.  Like many early career academics, I had limited experience in designing budgets so the advice I received was very helpful.  I also identified and contacted the referees who would comment on my proposal as part of the application process.  Because academics tend to receive a lot of these requests and are busy, it is important to make the request well in advance of deadline.

I have made a previous unsuccessful application for the Leverhulme ECF and when reflecting about what I did differently this time around I began my application earlier and made greater use of the wonderful resources that we have at KCL.  I was also lucky enough to have a mentor who provided me with excellent advice and a supportive Head of Department.  While the application process is time consuming and with an uncertain outcome, being awarded a Leverhulme ECF is a great opportunity that I feel lucky to have.

Finding the Right Fit: How to Write a Strong Journal Paper

Written by Dr Naho Mirumachi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, King’s College London

As an academic, a good portion of my working hours (and then some) is on writing journal articles, books and book chapters on my research.  At the same time, I also deal with a lot of papers in my role as an associate editor of Water International, an interdisciplinary journal in the subfield of water resources management.  In this blog, I’ll share some of my tips on writing a strong journal article gleaned from experiences on both sides of the academic publishing process, as an author of journal articles as well as editor.

In our journal, the average acceptance rate of the last three years is about 11%.  This might seem like a very low number but it’s because a good number of papers were rejected outright due to fit.  Many of the submissions were considered to be outside of the scope of the journal even before it got sent out for review.  So, as obvious as it may seem, make sure you target the right journal for your paper.  Don’t despair if you get a rejection straight way.  It doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of the paper is not up to scratch.  However, it may mean that you have not done your homework well enough in figuring out (or even simply, reading on the website) the scope and fit of journal.

When writing a strong paper, it’s important to think about the audience or readership.  Your paper should show how it speaks to the aims and themes of the journal.  In particular, when writing the paper think about how your arguments build on or contradict debates that have gone on in the particular journal.  You might consider speaking to a colleague who may have already published in that journal you are targeting.  Try and get some initial feedback before your submit.

Finding the right home for your paper also means to read widely.  Read different journals, current and past issues to get a sense of the field. Ultimately, a strong publication engages with and importantly, advances scholarship.  There isn’t much magic or short cuts for this: it’s hard graft with the basics of reading, thinking, writing and revising.

Make your Blog Stand Out

Written by Rachel Hall, Guardian Higher Education Network Editor

Imagine going to a party, full of strangers, where everybody is talking over each other. The guests are the best presented versions of themselves: some of them are using their style and flair to win attention, some are full of incredible insight and expertise, and others are telling brazen lies to manipulate their audience.

This is the internet, every day. It’s a multitude of unknown voices, all of which are clamouring for clicks.

If you want your content to stand out, you’re going to have to give people a reason to click. And if you want them to stay, you’re going to have to make it worth their while. If you want them to return, you need to convince them why it’s your voice – not anybody else’s – they should be listening to.

When you’re writing a blogpost to communicate your research or to reflect your views on a topic related to your discipline or even higher education more generally, you’re the expert. So compared to a lot of voices online, you already have something worthwhile to offer.

But imagine you’re at that party, and you’re standing in a dark corner, monologuing about the minutiae of your latest project. Would anybody listen?

Instead, you need to find the angle that grabs people. What concept will people identify with? What appeals to their emotions? What provides them with a fresh way of looking at something they already have some awareness of? What problem are you trying to solve, and how are you going about it?

Once you have this neatly packaged in a title that clearly and succinctly expresses why people should read your blog post, it’s time to think about how to write it.

A blog post isn’t the ideal space to explain something complicated. It’s not great for exploring multiple points, either. Instead, you want a tight angle of focus, and all the arguments in the piece should support that central point. If you want to say something tangential, then write another post.

Because that’s your third goal: to get people returning to you. Make it clear why you’re the authority on this topic, and feel free to draw on any relevant personal experience, whether it comes from your research or everyday life. That’s the human element that helps keep people coming back for more.

After all, when you go back to the same party, you’ll always make a beeline for the familiar face, not the strangers, right?

Interested in reading blog posts from the university community? Join the Guardian’s higher education network for comment, analysis and job opportunities, by and for university professionals. Follow us on Twitter @gdnhighered.

And want to try your hand at writing a blog post to be published on the Guardian website? Feel free to email your pitch to rachel.hall@theguardian.com.

Unblock your Writing

Written by Nudrat Siddiqui, Research Staff Development Officer, Centre for Research Staff Development 

Have you ever had those days when you sit down at your computer to write a journal article or book chapter only to spend the next few hours transfixed by the glow of a blank Word document, willing the words to come without success? With the advent of the REF and the  importance of a steady publication record in securing a lectureship position, it’s no wonder that writing is often seen as an onerous and daunting rite that can make or break our future in academia. This pressure to produce high quality research outputs makes it tempting to shelve our writing plans for another day and to face the paralysis of writer’s block on the occasions when we do sit down to write.

Studying for a writing-intensive Arts & Humanities PhD, I’ve experienced the blank Word document scenario many times, but have picked up a few strategies along the way that unclog my thoughts and get those words and sentences flowing. Whether you are a seasoned writer who already has a list of publications to your name or are preparing to write your first journal article, considering the tips below can help overcome writer’s block:

Brainstorm in Advance

Doing the thinking about the broad ideas and points that you want to get across in your piece before you sit down to write can kick-start the writing process. Take notes to capture your ideas using arrows, flow charts, stick figure cartoons, holding off using complete sentences until you actually sit down to write.

Who says you Need to Start at the Beginning?

Starting at the beginning of an article or chapter may seem like a logical approach, but it can often be the most challenging. This is especially true if you are a writing perfectionist who inflicts pressure on yourself to produce a faultless article. What sections are you most interested and enthusiastic about? Is it the results, the methods, the recommendations? Start there instead. Once you’ve eased into the flow of writing with the paragraphs that come to you more fluidly, revisit the trickier beginning.

Don’t get Stuck on the Wrong Word

Is there a word or sentence you have written that doesn’t look right? Don’t spend lots of time lingering on it trying to come up with alternative ways of rephrasing it. Highlight it so you can easily identify it later, move on, and return to it in your second draft to make alterations.

Free Write

Set an alarm for five minutes and during this time write anything and everything that comes to mind. If what you’re writing is relevant to the topic you need to write about, great, but even if it is far removed from it, that’s fine too. Getting those unrelated, preoccupying thoughts out on paper can free up the mental space you need to concentrate on writing about your research. This strategy is an excellent warm up and once the five minutes are up it’s often easier to write more freely without inhibition.

Plan When you Write – And Where

Schedule fixed days and times of the week to write and stick to them. If you struggle with concentrating for extended periods of times, make them short, easily surmountable fifteen-twenty minute slots. Try writing at different times of the day until you find a time that’s optimal for you.

When you need to spend more time on your writing, think about where you are most likely to succeed. The sight of my desk at home is often enough to send ripples of anxiety and procrastination through me. If like me, writing from home or your office is counter-productive, check if you can arrange a weekly working-from-home morning or day and venture out into one of the many inspiring spaces around London. Some of my favourite spots to write include the Barbican and the Hoxton Hotel lobby café which are relatively quiet, have free, fast Wi-Fi and lots of laptop sockets. The British Library Reading Rooms are also a fool-proof venue in which to write without noise or interruption.

Try Social Writing

Writing can often feel solitary, but it doesn’t have to be. There are various ‘Write Together’ and ‘Shut-up and Write’ groups on Meetup.com that encourage people to get together and write for an allocated period of time. Being surrounded by other people busily tapping away on their laptops can be a motivating factor to spur on your own writing. The writing is often followed by pub/café socials where you will have the opportunity to share your writing challenges and hear other people’s experiences. The Centre for Research Staff Development will also be running Shup up and Write sessions in the near future so look out for these in our weekly newsletter or email amy.birch@kcl.ac.uk for more details.

I hope these tips boost your writing practice. While it certainly can be challenging at times, writing can also be rewarding and enjoyable and is a fantastic activity to reflect on your research and organise your ideas about it. So settle down and get writing!

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.