An innovative open-access response to the pandemic, to support ECRs with a structured programme of personal and professional development during lockdown
PGR@Home was developed and launched within just a few weeks, in response to the pandemic, when many PGRs and postdocs were feeling anxious about their future, and operating in often isolated, lonely and make-shift conditions. The aim was to provide on-line support in the form of bite-sized opportunities for PGR personal and professional development, and to introduce PGRs to key University of Glasgow staff and resources that can help them on their research journeys, as well as engendering a research community even under lockdown conditions.
PGR@Home launched with an introductory video, followed by 10 weeks of different themes, with synchronous and asynchronous elements. Our PGR@Home website includes downloadable resources, quizzes, links to other sites, and set tasks. The end of each week saw a ‘Chat Café’ with the key delivery partners present to answer questions. ‘Unexpected Encounters’ provided an opportunity to connect with peers via non-work chats.
This was a truly cross-University effort, with contributions from staff and current PGRs, from several services (including the Library and IT) and Schools.
The judges were impressed with the strong response to pressing circumstances and the open-access nature of the programme (allowing other HEIs to benefit) They described it as highly innovative, timely, relevant and successful, with good potential for future repurposing in inductions while a return to campus remains uncertain.
This project is all the more impressive as it was led by Joanna Royle, Researcher Development Adviser, who only stepped into post in the first few days of lockdown. Joanna still hasn’t made it into the office but somehow managed to build, lead and inspire a cross-university team to deliver PGR@Home, in an entirely new and creative format.
The impact of PGR@Home has been well recognised; both by the sector and by researchers. The website regularly has 200 hits a day (and has had over 5000 total visits), and the feedback has been fantastic.
PGR@Home was designed with thoughtful consideration of researcher’s needs under lockdown. Those with caring responsibilities, or those struggling with their mental health were able to participate when it suited them.
Many of the lessons from PGR@Home have now been shared with the Graduate Schools to form the basis of our ongoing support for PGRs and will continue to influence the research culture at University of Glasgow.