Improving research culture requires effort – but it’s worth it
During my PhD, I met only one student who was thoroughly enthusiastic about their work and academic prospects. In fact, they were almost embarrassed to mention how happy they were. Everyone else who I talked to about the PhD experience would bring up something negative. Occasionally this would be the natural frustrations of experimental science – the broken equipment, the inconclusive results. But far more often they were unhappy about long working hours, or an unsupportive (or even discriminatory) lab environment. And I know I wasn’t the only person who quickly ruled out an academic research career because it seemed like your only chance of success was to devote your whole life to your work – especially when even that might not be enough to secure so much as a short-term job.
This Chemistry World piece reflects on effective strategies to embed responsible behaviour into an institution’s research culture. #SPOILER ALERT it requires a focus on people, rather than compliance policies and enforcement sticks. This is a useful grey literature discussion when designing and implementing an institution’s research integrity arrangements. In recent years, AHRECS has developed considerable experience in this area. We have assisted a wide range of institutions to pursue their goals. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss AHRECS working with your institution.
It was always going to take something radical to break this status quo. That’s exactly what we’ve just experienced with the lockdowns and shutdowns during the pandemic. Of course, this has not been the ideal time to consider grand, sweeping systemic changes, as we see in the articles in which researchers share their pandemic experiences. But even while confronting career uncertainty and mental health challenges, those researchers have also strived to support their colleagues. Now it’s time for them to receive some support in return.