Research Innovation Enterprise

Researcher Development Fund Launch & Showcase

The 2021/22 Researcher Development Fund competition is now open and welcomes applications from all doctoral students and early career researchers. Apply now for up to £1500 to fund your development activity! For more information and application materials, please contact Janel Fontaine, Research & Innovation Administrator (

Following its launch in February of this year, the 2020/21 Researcher Development Fund was pleased to fund 7 projects proposed by doctoral students, research staff, and academic staff. The projects exhibited a range of outreach and development initiatives including workshops, a zine, and an international conference. We would like to congratulate the researchers on their success, especially in light of the challenges faced during lockdowns and social distancing restrictions. To showcase their work, we’ve included some of their own words about their projects.

Lucy Johnston – ‘Developing a Cross School Care Home Community of Interest to respond to the upcoming UK and Scottish Innovation and research grant funding calls’

Income generation relevant to the University Research and Innovation Strategy is a key role for research staff and although ENU is well positioned to exploit the upcoming opportunities in the field of care homes and the social care sector more broadly, developing links and undertaking internal preparatory work will provide a better platform for exploiting these opportunities…. I see great value in developing productive relationships to respond more effectively to funding opportunities that increasingly require multi-disciplinary teams and creative outputs. By bringing together topic specialists in health/social care, computing and product design ENU will be well positioned to apply for large programmes of research that require cross-School and institution collaboration that are likely to lead to societal impact. Moreover, in relation to my care home research, there is a real opportunity for cross learning between researchers, academic, pedagogy, technology, art and design and computer science….

RDF monies also provided me personally with an additional opportunity to lead on the development of PPI, internal and external networks and begin to consider more formally the impact of my research and be able to contribute more effectively to the institutional mission of attracting large scale multi-disciplinary research funding.

Dr Jennifer Dodd – ‘Sound Analysis – An introduction to the recording and analysis of soundscapes for conservation, rehabilitation and health’

We have considerable expertise in the Animal and Plant Sciences Group on the effects of sound on the growth and development of animals and keen to see this expertise developed to include whole environment investigations. I applied for the Researchers Development Fund (2019-2020) to run a course for staff to develop expertise in this new technique….In collaboration with Dr Iain MacGregor (School of Computing), we reapplied to the RDF 2020-21 [following cancellation of 2019-20 funding due to the pandemic] and the application to fund the course was granted. In conversation with the company delivering the course, we arranged to run the course online between June 8th and 10th. The course brought together individuals with different interests in the use of sound as a tool for assessment and having individuals from different schools has facilitated collaboration for future research. Specifically, the collaboration between the Schools of Life Science and Computing will undoubtably elevate research outputs and make bigger impact. Furthermore, as the course was run online, we now have a legacy (recordings of the course and the supporting material) to support staff and students keen to learn about this technique.

The process of application, review and facilitation of the RDF was helpful and encouraging. From a personal perspective, and as a new member of staff at ENU, the process has facilitated my involvement within the wider university and led to links and collaborations outwith my school.

Sibylle Ratz – ‘Narrative methods in multilingual and educational research’

Photo of online symposiumThe idea to conduct a symposium on narrative methods in educational and multilingual research was developed as a collaborative project by three researchers at ENU. Two of the team were PhD students who were using narrative methods for their research, and we were interested in learning more about current developments in the field. Furthermore, we saw this as an opportunity to enter into a dialogue with researchers from around the world. We collaborated with a mid-career researcher who added her experience and expertise in the planning and running of the event. While it was disappointing that we could not plan a face-to-face symposium, we saw this as a unique opportunity to invite Alice Chik as the keynote speaker from Australia. Alice is an expert on narrative methods and has written extensively on this subject.

We employed two postgraduate marketing students to help us with the social media promotion and this worked extremely well. They were able to support us with their skills and conducted a very successful promotion campaign while also looking after the eventbrite registration…. The actual event was attended by over 60 participants from the university and the wider research community. Attendees came from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, and many European countries…. We certainly benefitted from the event and we believe that the wider research community also appreciated the symposium as we received very positive feedback.

Dr David Hamilton – ‘Developing an Allied Health and Social Work research program’

This has been a very rewarding process. Wining a competitive funding bid to develop a collaborative research strategy for our 3 new subjects facilitated a cohesion around the project and enabled a focus to be placed on this at a time when our resources were thinly spread delivering remote teaching online and substantial clinical teaching in a restricted and socially distanced manner. Although the definitive strategy event we had hoped to run was not possible in the climate of the last year we have been able to coalesce around a broad shared framework and have been successful in attractive postgraduate research students. We hope to be able to return to our original event plan in the coming academic year.

Dr David Brazier – ‘What are your unique information needs? Learning to navigate the hidden curriculum as an early career researcher’

This research development funding opportunity provided a platform for me to trial a working methodology in eliciting information needs through participative design. This was originally used in my own PhD work, and I felt this was a great way to test the framework in a new setting and context while contributing to our community by addressing PhD students and ECR’s own struggles with the hidden curriculum. This is something that, I feel, the pandemic and long-distance engagement with peers and colleagues has exacerbated.

As the framework already existed, and the workshops would be run online (via Teams), the only costs were for a Research Assistant to support the recruitment, running and administration of the project. In Marina Milosheva, I found the perfect collaborator. For the funding we were able to run three workshops at 2.5 – 3 hours per workshop.

Rita Faire – ‘Activating Research Programme’

Designing the Activating Research programme and the associated Researcher Activist Network has been a wonderful, challenging, inspiring experience in community building and resistance. With my colleague Amy King, I wanted to create a space for continuing conversations more widely with academics similar to me in our activist pursuits. Sharing space, knowledge and enthusiasm with activist scholars is a powerful motivator for designing socially impactful research; engaging with theories, methodologies and communities while centring equity and recognising power structures avoids replicating structural inequity and offers innovative ways for us as researchers to activate our academic endeavours for social justice.

Engaging activists within academia and outside the academy has provided researchers attending our events with a rounded, broad perspective of the various ways equity, power and inclusion show up in our research engagement. Interrogating our two programme themes, Pop Culture as a Colonial Landscape and Imagining Meaningful Representation, has offered critical theory application to case studies and offered methodological considerations to address issues of power, positionality, equity, systemic violence and academic resistance.

Amy King – ‘Becoming a Researcher-Activist Workshop and Zine’

I found running the Becoming a Researcher-Activist project hugely beneficial and educational. Having the opportunity to work through an application process early on in my academic career, managing budgets and working with community partners to deliver exciting, innovative, impactful activities to an engaged network of researchers has been such a privilege.

Attending Rita’s Becoming a Researcher-Activist workshop helped me unpick some of my own methodological questions for my thesis and the creative ways to think about research design. Her encouragement to unpack the many identities I carry, and to consider using board games to help communicate my research aims and design to different publics, was illuminating for better understanding my desires and intentions for my doctoral research project.

Having the opportunity to connect with Project Myopia and learn from their coordination of our zine has been especially educational. Creating these connections with individuals and organisations doing vital work for achieving equity in (research) spaces gives me so much hope for a future of generative, impactful research and public engagement going forward.