A reflection on the support and opportunities available to researchers

Posted on: 22 September 2022 in Researchers

Dr Janette Greenhalgh a Senior Research Fellow in the Liverpool Reviews and Implementation Group

Dr Janette Greenhalgh a Senior Research Fellow in the Liverpool Reviews and Implementation Group reflects on her research journey and the support and opportunities that have become available to researchers during her career.

“A long time ago, in what feel like a galaxy, far, far way. I began my research journey. As I hurtle closer to retirement, I have been reflecting on my 30+ years of experience as a researcher”

Janette’s research career started in the early 1990's in quite an unplanned way. After graduation, Janette had intended to take up a place on a MSc course to study Organisational Psychology, but was offered a PhD funded by a teaching assistantship at her undergraduate institution.  Janette had no aspirations beyond the submission of her thesis, and felt very lucky when she was offered a full-time post within her research group post-submission.

It was a great team, that had plenty of funding and the work garnered lots of media interest. For a few years, it seemed that the research would last forever, but the funding petered out eventually and so did Janette’s job (albeit very slowly, with monthly and then weekly contracts). Janette drifted around for a couple of years, picking up a teaching certificate in post-compulsory education, before starting in her current post at Liverpool in 2006.

Janette works with a wonderful team, in an area completely unrelated to her previous research. She has learned lots of new skills and has been given the space to take on responsibilities outside of her work role.

“Researchers come in all shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of ambition. I'm pleased to see that support for the careers and wellbeing of researchers at Liverpool has (rightly) increased in the last few years”

Janette feels she has benefitted from the many opportunities for researchers made available via the The Academy to develop their career and empower themselves to realise their potential. Janette particularly enjoys engaging with the annual Making an Impact programme and many of Janette’s colleagues have greatly benefitted from the PROSPER programme.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I do sometimes think about whether my path would have been any different had The Academy been around in the 1990s!

Janette is delighted to be a part of the University of Liverpool Research Staff Association (RSA), a research community-owned and led initiative supported by the Academy. As a deputy co-chair with the RSA, Janette has had many enjoyable outward- facing roles, including, but definitely not limited to, planning and delivering the hugely successful 2021 National PostDoc Conference, planning and delivering  RSA 'Lunch and Learn' sessions, planning and taking part in the RSA Buddy scheme initiative and compiling RSA's weekly news ebulletins. Nothing stops and plans for the annual RSA Research Conference in December are now underway. Janette has found being part of the RSA, to be very rewarding and a great way to work with hugely talented research colleagues from across the University and would encourage anyone to get involved.

There is also good news for researchers within Janette’s own Institute (Institute of Population Health - IPH). The Senior Leadership Team is currently supporting Janette to set up a committee for researcher staff in IPH who are employed on fixed-term contracts. Part of the remit of the committee is to implement the IPH Concordat strategy with the remaining committee time being to develop and implement strategies that will benefit the careers and wellbeing of people employed on fixed-term contracts in IPH. The road to setting up the committee has involved navigating a few hairpins and more than one pothole, but the destination is ahead and Janette looks forward to reporting back on the success of the venture and its value to research staff in IPH. Watch this space!

Key takeaways

Development opportunities can provide value to your career

Being proactive and seeking opportunities outside of your role enables you to evolve as a professional.

Keywords: Development, Opportunities, Career development.