Driving Positive Change with the CROS

Written by Alexandra Melaugh, Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Health Economics & Deputy Chair of the RSRC

Last year the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) was circulated to research staff at King’s College London to elicit feedback on their research experience. It must be said, there are a lot of surveys that we are asked to complete, and although it can be burdensome, and we can sometimes choose not to complete them, the CROS survey is one which works to highlight areas that require improvement and tries to make a change to better meet the needs of researcher staff.

The Research Staff Representative Committee (RSRC) is driving forward changes to improve the research staff experience across the university and is comprised of representatives from each Faculty of the university. As the research assistant representative sitting on the RSRC, I believe it is very important to improve the research environment of researchers (pre-PhD) and try to make sure that the opportunities they can access whilst working at King’s are fit-for-purpose. By sitting on the RSRC I have been able to feedback discussions I have had with colleagues and other research assistants to try make a positive change and let their voices be heard. As a result, this feedback along with the results that were brought to light from the CROS survey, have led to shaping the objectives of the RSRC for this year. Alongside these, we have created a set of working groups to achieve our objectives. Here is an insight in to what we are working towards:

  1. The Performance Development Reviews (PDR’s) have been found to not be uniform across Faculties. The RSRC have set an objective of improving research staff career development by working with colleagues in the Strategy, Planning & Analytics Directorate, as well as HR, to redesign the performance development review (PDR) and make it a better fit for research staff to plan their future career development. We intend for our changes to be implemented for the 2019 PDR period.
  2. Results from the CROS survey showed over 31% of research staff have observed or experienced disrespectful treatment. The RSRC plans to reduce the occurrence of disrespectful behaviour and increase the visibility of research staff. Collaborations have been formed with the Diversity & Inclusion teams at the university and faculty level along with the Centre for Research Staff Development (CRSD) to ultimately increase accountability and create a safer environment to report incidences of disrespectful behaviour when they occur.
  3. A lot of confusion exists around the expectations within a job role. The RSRC are working with Faculties of the university to establish a unified description of job roles for research staff and clarifying job titles is the first step towards this.

It must be acknowledged, there are many things that the RSRC wish to achieve in 2018 but due to time limitations we established these three objectives as our priority and the CROS survey has helped us to establish these. So, when you see the email enter your inbox asking to complete the CROS survey, make sure you complete it because it is an opportunity to anonymously express your thoughts about the research environment and the culture at King’s. It is one way to get your voice heard as research staff at King’s.