Research Culture at the University of Oxford

The University is developing a programme of work to advance research culture

Researchers come to Oxford from all over the world to enjoy and contribute to a stimulating research environment. Beyond resources and facilities, an environment that enables the highest quality research must also be sustained by a positive working culture. Here we describe a plan that has been initiated to advance a research culture that is supportive, inclusive, and equitable at Oxford.

Culture is experienced through the everyday behaviours, expectations, and norms that signal “the way we do things round here”. Oxford’s plan for strengthening its research culture will therefore be realised through actions that affect the everyday practice of doing research, with the aim of ensuring that those factors that are good for research — such as openness, collaboration, teamwork, and diversity — are aligned with what we value and reward in a research career. This vision is described in a blog written by Oxford’s academic leads for research culture
 

We know that some problems cannot be solved by Oxford working in isolation (…), and we will work closely with universities, funders, societies and publishers using our voice to encourage conversations about necessary changes.

Leadership

Oxford’s research culture programme is led by the PVC-Research, Patrick Grant, working in close partnership with the Associate Heads for Research of each Division and with the research leadership of the academic departments. The institutional culture programme is overseen by the University’s Research and Innovation Committee. 

Three academic leads have been appointed to drive the programme. They are supported directly by teams in the Research Strategy & Policy Unit (Tanita Casci) and the Researcher Hub (Rachel Bray), and additionally work in coordination with the Bodleian Libraries, Research IT, Human Resources, the Careers Service, and the Divisional research offices.

To find out more please contact the Research Strategy and Policy Unit.

Community of Practice on Research Culture

The Community of Practice (CoP) on Research Culture brings together research and innovation support colleagues with experience and skills in research culture, and coordinates events and collaborative projects. 

The Research Culture CoP is one of five CoPs of the Research & Innovation Support Network (RISN). RISN has over 650 members. To join the network, please contact: RISN@admin.ox.ac.uk
RISN provides a professional and mutually supportive community to anyone involved in research and innovation support and management at Oxford.

Priority areas for research culture

With over 13,000 research staff and students spread across dozens of departments, Oxford has not one, but many research cultures. Oxford’s research culture is united around three interconnected priorities: conducting research to the highest standards of rigour, recognising the different skills and roles that contribute to research, and supporting the career aspirations of our colleagues.

These priorities reflect and integrate the university’s commitments to national and international sector requirements and agreements, such as UK research concordats and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).
 

What are we working on?

We are working on the following projects:

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In April 2022, the University published a three-year action plan to fulfil its commitments as a signatory to The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. Highlights include regular Career Development Reviews, entitlement to 10 days/year for professional development, enhancing management and leadership skills among Principal Investigators and others with responsibilities for researchers, and progressing mechanisms towards greater contract stability wherever possible. 

Research advances through the contribution of different skills and backgrounds, and through activities and outputs of varying types. Academic assessment criteria do not always reflect these activities so we are exploring ways to reward broader range of contributions to excellence in research and innovation. To support this work we are involved in an international project to collate good practice in academic research assessment (Project TARA).

To support researchers to follow best practice in planning, executing, and reporting research we are integrating activities across Oxford that are directly relevant to the practice of research and its improvement, such as open access, research data management, research integrity and ethics, reproducible and transparent research, responsible research and innovation, and research impact. A new Research Practice Group is driving this integration, to create greater efficiency at institutional level and a clearer journey for researchers.

For more information, please contact: sarah.callaghan@admin.ox.ac.uk

The narrative CV — also known as a résumé for researchers — is designed to showcase a wider range of skills and experience than a traditional academic CV. A group of research support professionals in Oxford is collaborating on creating a guidance document that gives prompts and hints to assist researchers to complete narrative CV elements of funding applications. We will be developing training for researchers and research support teams. For more information, please contact: RISN@admin.ox.ac.uk

Find out more about how we're supporting the career development of researchers


ACTIVITY TO SUPPORT THE CAREER DEVELOPMENT OF RESEARCHERS PAGE

Read the Concordat Action Plan 


CONCORDAT ACTION PLAN