Welcome to the Research Culture Uncovered podcast, where in every episode we explore what is research culture and what should it be. You'll hear thoughts and opinions from a range of contributors to help you change research culture into what you want it to be.Ged:
Hi, this is Ged Hall, and for those of you who don't know me, I'm an Academic Development Consultant at the University of Leeds. You're joining us in season five of our Research Culture Uncovered podcast, where we're diving into the effects of research impact on research culture and focusing in on different topics to ensure those effects are positive.
Today I'm delighted to be talking to Dr. Faith Welch and Jaylene Wehipeihana. Faith is the inaugural Research Impact Manager at the University of Auckland, and Jaylene is the inaugural Research Manager Vision Mātauranga, and she will be joining us later. Faith joined Auckland just over six years ago, and prior to that she worked at the University of Bristol in an impact role supporting academics in the science and engineering faculties.
After her PhD in parasitology, she worked for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, or BBSRC in innovation and business engagement for three years before joining Bristol Faith. Welcome.Faith:
Oh, that's lovely. What does that mean?Faith:
Kia ora means, uh, hello, welcome.Ged:
Faith, I'm a bit of a sports fanatic.
So before we get into talking about impact, you do a sport roller derby, I'd never heard of before, before you mentioned it, . So I decided to look it up on YouTube and to be honest, it looks brutal. So before we get into the impact discussion, tell me a bit more about it.Faith:
Yeah, so I, um, I used to roller skate quite a lot.
Um as a, child, um, as an adult, I, I was out, um, roller skating with a friend around, um, the Bristol Harbourside hadn't put a pair of roller skates on for about 15 years, and someone came up to me and said, have you ever heard of roller derby? And I hadn't. And then I watched a movie about it. Um, and then somehow I ended up going to, um, a roller derby training practice.
Um, I ended up pa playing for Bristol. Um, we ended up traveling across Europe, playing roller derby, um, played in Ireland, um, played in Germany, Denmark. Um, and then when I moved to New Zealand, I ended up playing for Auckland. Um, and it turns out that, uh, playing roller derby in New Zealand is much more exciting than in UK because I got to play tournaments in Hawaii, in Australia.
Um, we, we won our tournament in Hawaii. Um, and yeah, it's a, it's a full contact sport on roller skates, um, involving one person skating as fast as they possibly can around an oval shaped track, and the other players on the opposite team trying to stop that person from. lapping them essentially. Um, yeah, it's fast paced, really great fun, amazing to play.
Um, unfortunately I've just had my second child and I think I might have just about retired .Ged:
Brilliant. I, I guess we'd, we'd better try and take some of that adrenaline into the, uh, into a discussion about impact then and see if we can see if we can keep it going. Which is a full contact sport, isn't it? Impact, uh, you know, interesting,Faith:
Yes. Yeah, yeah. Um, Now that you've, now that you're, you're in New Zealand and your experience in the UK, I wonder if you could, uh, tell us about any commonalities or differences between how impact affects the research culture in those two HE sectors.Faith:
Yeah, sure. So obviously I started my kind of impact career in the UK. Um, when I was at the BBSRC I, I did look after or support some of our, um, funds that were kind of impact, um, related. Um, But it felt very much like impact in the UK was predominantly driven by the REF. And I won't say entirely at all cuz there are many, many fantastic researchers who are driven, um, by wanting to make change.
Um, you know, impact has always been around, but that real acceleration and impact in the UK was ref driven. Um, and I think most people would say that. Um, but when I started at the University of Bristol, It was really exciting cuz my role was brand new. Um, it was one of the first impact roles that was solely focused on increasing the impact from the research, um, within the university and not to serve the REF.
Um, so we were always making it quite clear to our researchers that weren't there just to, just to be creating impact case studies. We were actually there to, to support their research to make a difference. Um, so it did feel like, to me it was, um, kind of an assessment driven culture, um, that was kind of having to catch up with itself and it realised that.l its impact case studies for:
So it was fantastic to go back and work there in the future. Um, but I moved to New Zealand in 2016 and when I went there, I was told that impact was coming to New Zealand. Um, and that's kind of what got me a job at the University of Auckland, although I didn't actually start in my current role. Um, I just started working in the research office and they kind of allowed me to explore, uh, impact within the university to, um, teach people about what research impact was kind of on the side of my, my role when I first started there.already there. Um, so this is:
I think the Health Research Council was one of the first that really started thinking, okay, how do we, um, uh, assess that pathway to impact? Hmm. Um, there wasn't a national assessment of impact like in the REF. Um, we had lots of researchers creating impact because they wanted to make a difference. But really interestingly is that our Māori and Pacific researchers were having huge impacts within the communities cuz that's just how they do research.
So they co-design, they co-create knowledge, they utilize their indi indigenous knowledge, um, and the, the main parts of their research is about giving back to their communities. Um, so that's just how they do research. Um, so I remember just talking to, to some, um, Māori and Pacific researchers and they just said, this is, you know, impact is what we've always been doing.
It's just we've never been referring to it in that way. Um, so I think that was one of the most interesting things. Um, my role as the impact specialist was one of the first in New Zealand, or was the first, I should say, in New Zealand actually there's now a really small handful of us. Um, I suspect there'll be more of us soon.Ged:
So Faith, maybe I can dig a little deeper into that. I mean, impact's always been around in every higher education sector or else we wouldn't have innovations anywhere, would we? Mm-hmm. . Um, but can you, can you pick me out a little bit more in terms of what maybe. That, that REF driven acceleration compared to what's happening now in in New Zealand.Faith:
Yeah, sure. So I think in New Zealand, um, impact's kind of been driven by, uh, culture and by individuals. Um, so as I described our kind of, uh, indigenous researchers, um, it's just how they do our re. It's just how they do their research. Um, you tend to find that lots of our small research institutes are, which there are many, um, they have their own impact agendas and they've slowly been building this up at scale.
So I would say that in the UK the REF really accelerated, um, impacts the forefront of researchers' minds. Um, it's been a slower process in New Zealand, but it's been quite grassroots and so there's quite a lot more acceptance. I think there will be an acceleration soon as there looks like there'll be changes to our PBRF, which is the New Zealand version of the UK's REF.
So it's, it's how we assess, um, the excellence of our research here in New Zealand. Um, it looks like in the next one there will be some kind of impact assessment. Um, and I think that's gonna bring some really, really big changes, um, to impact the New Zealand.Ged:
So for those of us that, uh, that don't know what PBRF stands for, what is it then?Faith:
PBRF is the Performance-based Research Fund. I hope I've got that right. , . Um, yeah. It's, it's es essentially the money that's given, um, from the Tertiary Education Commission.Ged:
So just moving on to, um, another question. I was really interested in what you said about that, you know, grassroots aspect. Um, because I noticed, um, you know, you were, uh, your work was, uh, highly commended by the, uh, Emerald impact towards in 2021, and in reading your case study you mentioned that.
Covid had generated a pause in the government's top-down introduction of impact, and that gave you opportunities, uh, to do things from the ground up. So can you, can you give us a bit more insight into that, into that grassroots and, and bringing impact forward from that kind of cold face, uh, experience.Faith:
Sure. And I think, um, you know, all um, kudos can be placed on, on the shoulders of our researchers here, cuz they did some amazing things throughout Covid. Um, I think covid put a lot of weight, um, on our indigenous researchers' shoulders, um, to make sure that any policies that were coming from government weren't increasing inequities within their communities.
Um, so they were doing. Amazing, fantastic research that was funded at very short notice, um, by our research funders. Um, amazing communications, really targeted science communications to the communities that really needed it. Um, Outreach, um, to ensure that people understood why they should be getting vaccinated.
Um, communities who, uh, quite rightly didn't trust the government, um, and so needed to hear from, um, their own people as to, as to why, um, why they should get vaccinated. So, you know, this was in, there was incredible impact going on throughout here, and it's because, um, the government said right we just need to put the money into the hands of the researchers who can make change happen and quickly, um, I think something really exciting as well that happened was, and I don't think you get this in many other countries in the world, um, New Zealand's really small.
Everybody knows each other. Um, they talk about this two degrees of separation. So you're always only two steps away from Jacinda. Mine is, um, my, when I interviewed for my current role, um, I was interviewed by the now, um, Chief Science Advisor to Jacinda Ardern . So that's my two degrees of separation from Jacinda. Um, but it's just incredible because.
uh, we literally had our researchers just calling the Director General of Health and saying, this policy isn't correct. We need to change it, or we need to go into lockdown in 10 days time. We had some researchers at the University of Auckland who were advising on the modeling that was showing when we needed to go into lockdown, how long for what the spread of disease was gonna look like.
Um, and a lot of trust, uh, and support was put into our, into our researchers to do that. So,Ged:
Yeah. Yeah, that's, that sounds really amazing. And it's, uh, a real collaboration there.Faith:
Yeah. There's, there's a lot of, um, I think there's a lot of trust mm-hmm. Between, um, the government and the research ecosystem within New Zealand.
Mm-hmm. Um, , I think Covid highlighted that. Um, I think it highlighted to the public the importance of funding research. Um, I hope as well that it highlighted that, um, by reducing bureaucracy you can, uh, increase the speed of impact. Yeah. Uh, which is really exciting to see. And also I think it really highlighted the importance of really clear and effective science communication.
Mm-hmm. , which should say research communication. I don't like saying science communication cause I think it, um, ignores a large part of our research community. Um, But it highlighted the importance of that and the, the difference you can make by clearly, um, and un patronizingly communicating, uh, the latest research to the public.Ged:
I think that's a really great point. Um, You mentioned, you mentioned on a number of occasions, um, your indigenous researchers, and I know you don't want to speak on, on their behalf because that would be wrong, but since you've been in New Zealand, how has your conception of co-production changed as a result of kind of observing how they do it?Faith:
Um, well actually I had a thought about this question and I. Thought that I'm not the best person to ask, uh, to answer it. So, um, I've actually invited my friend, Jaylene Wehipeihana. Um, she's the University of Auckland's, um, Research Manager, Vision Mātauranga, hi Jaylene.Jaylene:
Kia ora Ged. Just before I answer it, I've just got to do, um, a little acknowledgement
Kei te mihi kia korua i tenei wa.
Ka haere mai au ki te korero i tenei kaupapa, kei te mihi kia koe Faith me koe hoki Ged.
So I was just saying, very much in my language in Māori is just acknowledging and thanking both of you for inviting me to talk on this topic tonight. Um, and I'm just really excited about that. So, um, thank you for having me.Ged:
Well, thanks for joining us Jaylene, and, and thanks for giving up some of your, some of your evening.
Uh, you know, it's early morning for me, but, uh, fairly, fairly late into the evening for you. Um, so I wonder if you could give our listeners. An overview of your role and, and, uh, uh, and Faith mentioned Vision Mātauranga. So could you tell us a little bit about what that is?Jaylene:
Sure. So, um, I hold an inaugural role at the University of Auckland, um, as Research Manager Vision Mātauranga.
It's, it's in response to a policy, a government policy that has, um, come out of New Zealand government. So a little bit of history around, around why this policy exists is due to the Te Tiriti or the Treaty of Waitangi that exists within New Zealand, which is an agreement between, uh, the Crown and tangata whenua or Māori. Um, here when, um, Cook and them came over Hobson, I think it is.
Sorry, one of them when, when they came over and joined us, um, way back then, they, um, there was a treaty signed around obligations around what the Crown was, was responsible for and also what, um, understood to be what Māori were responsible for. Um, so, that's an agreement that forms the treaty has influenced
and because we are partners, we, we seen to be partners with the Crown Māori. Um, this policy Vision Mātauranga came into existence. Um, I think it's been around for about close to 20 years now. So in terms of things, I think it's still a very new policy. Um, it's very broad, but it's, it's. It's what we would say it, it's probably focus or, um, kaupapa of this, of this policy is around engaging with Māori in particular.
It is, it is a policy that is focused on Māori or tangata whenua of Aotearoa, so it's engaging with Māori to connect and be part of the research system in whatever shape and form that is. So we as Māori have a, um, have a knowledge system and we have a, a science system in, in, in our own beliefs, in our own own thinking. And it's, it's about bringing those two worlds together but not necessarily working in
working into interweave together. I don't know whether that's the right word, but working together like that. It, it, both systems have their standalone, but it's about enabling Māori to, um, engage in the research sector and, and do that. So, yeah.Ged:
Brilliant. Thank you for that. Um, and I guess we could really go into loads of detail just on what the philosophies and things like that around that and what the, what the different knowledge systems are.
But, but I thought we might go practical rather than philosophical. So if I was coming to New Zealand as a, as a younger man that, uh, that unfortunately I am, um, as a researcher with some experience of co-production. So, for instance, I grew up on a council estate in the UK. So if I had experience of working with those sorts of communities and re researching with them, um, but I came to New Zealand for a new job, what would you tell me that would be kind of maybe different that I'd need to build into my co-production practices?Jaylene:
Um, it's what you'd probably need to think about if you're a new coming into, into Aotearoa and, and undertaking that kind of research or just undertaking research, you know, full stop. It's understanding what a Māori worldview is and actually acknowledging and, um, recognising that there's it's not just one way that, that, um, the world is viewed.
It's not just through one set of eyes. It's not through the, um, most dominant set of eyes, you know, which is European or, or, or Pakeha, which is, we refer to them in New Zealand, but that there is an alternative way to look at, you know, the glass half full, half empty sort of situation around that. So it's, it's being open.
my, my advice would be that you'd need to be open to challenging your approaches and challenging your thinking. Mm-hmm. and being okay with that being okay that, that what you think and what you see and what you say may not actually be the way. Um, in particular, understanding how Māori exist. I think is, is a key thing, understanding that it's not the nucleus of a family of his mum, dad, and the kids.
It's actually broader. You've got, you know, a Māori immediate family can consist of about 25 people, you know, that's aunties, uncles, um, cousins and everything around that. So it's actually understanding that, um, when you talk to Māori you're not just talking to one person, and it's not just their sole view. Mm-hmm. , um, it's actually a collective view.
And, um, and just, yeah. So I think that's, that's probably a key if you're coming in to do that engagement, do that co-production or, or, um, work with a community such as that. It's actually understanding, um, where they come from and let them lead you. Mm-hmm.Ged:
Right. Okay. That's, that's interesting. It's interesting you said that about the family because I have Irish heritage, so I have quite a, quite a lot of cousins, , so I was kinda thinking, oh my God, I'd have to be, I'd have to be associated with them. Mmmm. (Jaylene and Ged laugh together)
Um, so, so. in terms of, in terms of just, you know, let's, I, I might come back with, with kind of further questions, uh, as that mm-hmm. as that new researcher. So what, what does kind of, what does that showing of respect really entail? So if I'm meeting a Māori family for the first time, um, how, how might that pan out?
You know, what would I need to do?Jaylene:
Um, so it's some, it, it can be just as basic as just taking your shoes off at the door. Mm-hmm. , you know, it's under understanding their, their, their, what we would refer to as tikanga is like their processes. Um, not necessarily their what, what is probably the English region, which is rules, but just understanding how they operate.
So taking off your shoes when you go into someone's house, um, you know, um, a little thing such as if you're offered food, you know, even though you've just had a big lunch, it's rude to not engage with that food. Because for us, having that, that opportunity to sit at a table and share food you are actually going through.
Um, and this is, you know, we could go down the rabbit hole around this mm-hmm. and everything like that. But it is around sharing those, um, those values, um, making sure that You are coming in as a, um, as a friend and not an enemy, not a, not a foe, not someone that's coming into just, um, pillage, I suppose is a word, you know?
Um, so it's just been acknowledging that, but also acknowledging that, um, and I, and I don't think this is just for, um, Aotearoa at all, but I think across, across the world, around indigenous peoples, how the, um, doing research or or research is a very dirty world because we've had people just come in and take and remove us.
So we are quite guarded around who we bring into that space. So it's being able to humble yourself and go. , yes, you could be, um, some professor or associate professor or something like that, but when you come through that door, you are just you and we are not necessarily looking at you. We're looking at who else is around you, who, who, who supports you, who works with you around that sort of stuff.
So it's, it's just, um, the ability to, to, um, be humble. And actually understand who you are engaging with and how they operate. So, so being on that other side and doing, and doing a little bit of, you know, thinking around, well, how do they welcome us? How do they do that sort of stuff.Ged:
Yeah. Yeah. So it is about that trust building and, and just making sure that you don't do anything completely unconsciously that would destroy that.Jaylene:
Absolutely. Yeah. It's, it's all about trust. I mean, once, once, once you are in, in with, um, and in's probably not the right word, , but, but once you've built that trust and you've got that foundation and everyone's seen, um, everyone's benefiting, you know, there's that. Um, reciprocity occurring through it, through that process that, um, actually you then become part of the family.
You know, you become part of that and you'll, um, most, most European thinking ways is that when a research project exists for three years or, or however long the funding is available for. But when you engage with indigenous, um, communities and stuff like that, if you've had, it could just last for three years.
But if you've built that trust and worked on that and created that reciprocity, um, It could go forever. And, you know, um, you'll never let, you'll never get out. You'll be invited to every family thing. You'll be invited all over the place. So it is, it is definitely shared about building that trust. That trust is, if you can build that, you'll be fine.Ged:
Ged, could I jump in there and ask Jaylene a question?Ged:
Of course you can Faith. Go ahead.Faith:
I think your listeners might be, I dunno, quite Cause it's something that I. Hadn't, um, quite thought of previously. Um, you know, and we, we always ask our researchers to not only think about what the impact of their research are gonna be, but also consider what the negative impacts may be and so that they can mitigate them against them.
Um, and Jaylene, I don't know if you've got any comments cuz it was something that I think, um, I, I, I'm a lot more comfortable with now is actually considering, um, how our research and ensuring our research doesn't, um, increase inequities, um, in our indigenous communities. Mm-hmm. , you've got any comments about that?Jaylene:
Um, yeah. We, it's, it's always a challenge because, um, dealing with indigenous communities or, you know, first Nations communities, um, is always. It takes a lot longer, , let me say that. And it takes a lot longer because of the historical trauma or the, or the history that's occurred with research because people come in, we think it's a really good thing, and they just absolutely take the information and flip it and make us, um, look a little bit negative in those lights.
So that engagement with indigenous, um, communities is. Does take longer and probably takes double the time you would with European, because European have good outcomes with research. Um, and, and they have no history or bad history around it. So there's no trauma for, um, for European or, or white people to, to have that engagement with, with, um, research.
But it is about putting in the effort to do that engagement and build that trust with indigenous communities. Because what tends to happen is everyone has a great idea. Um, they get their cohorts and everything like that, and they're just gonna go ahead and then they think, oh, this is also an issue for indigenous communities.
We need to work with them. But what you're doing is you're actually progressing, um, because you've done the legwork, you've explained the situation, you've. Um, the, it's not a good word, but the white co cohort or the European, European cohort involved in their off doing their thing and now you've gotta explain it to the indigenous people and, um, get that, build that trust, get them on board in the research and stuff like that, and you are creating a gap.
So they already existed in inequity. Um, very, it's, it's, you know, very prominent in health. The health inequities for indigenous and non-indigenous people is huge, but. When you're, when you're doing that planning and engaging, it's around, you need to get those in your indigenous community on board earlier and work with them before you go to the easy group, you know, because, um, it's about bringing them on.
Because as you, as you work your projects through, one group's gonna be always ahead. because you need to build, you know, cuz those indigenous communities need to have that, have that, um, trust built first and once they're on board you'll be your way laughing. But, um, it, it is difficult and it is, we are mindful around, um, it is easier to get one group and if you are, if you are a non-indigenous person, it's, it's harder.
But that's also just a perception around harder. You know, we've always, I've always sort of thought around if you were to. Rock up to a, um, you know, a in New Zealand we have Fisher and Paykel. So if you were going over there to say, you've got a really great idea to sell some medical technology or something like that, you know, you'd do your research around them, you'll find out what they're funding, you'll find out what they're doing.
Um, you wouldn't just rock up and, you know, shorts and t-shirts, you'll get all dressed up and you'd have your pitch and your plan. So why is it harder to do exactly that for indigenous communities? They're no different. They're just another group that you need to engage with through your research project. So why don't you do your research on them?
Why don't you find out what is, what's their issues and how you can help around that? Cause I, I, I don't understand that. Well, I, I can't engage with a non, with an indigenous community cause I'm non-indigenous. It's like, well, how can you engage with Fisher and Paykel. And you're not a, you know,Faith:
you're, cause you're not Fisher and PaykelJaylene:
Yeah. You're not Fisher and Paykel and you're not, you know, you're just a researcher and you think you've got this good thing for them. But, you know, so it's around actually demystifying that, that, um, that understanding. And there is work that non-indigenous researchers need to do and, and I acknowledge that, but it's, it's shouldn't stop them from engaging.Ged:
So just, I'm just really interested. We've been talking about how things are currently in, um, in New Zealand in comparison to the, to the UK, but where do you think things will go next for the University of Auckland and the wider sector in New Zealand developing its research impact culture?Faith:
Yeah. Well, I think obviously the changes to the PBRF, um, are going to make a big difference.
Now we, at the time of recording, we still don't quite know what the changes are gonna be. Um, research impact is going to be introduced. I really hope, um, that the powers that be have listened to significant feedback that people have been giving. We really don't want it to be the huge administrative burden that it is in UK a country as small as New Zealand cannot afford to take resources away from developing impact and putting it into creating stories about it. Um, and I really hope that we don't go down that route. Um, I think more positive things that are really coming, I think the PBRF changes is a positive thing, but I just have my, um, Uh, hesitations about it.
Um, but really positive things that are happening is that, um, MB who are the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment in New Zealand, they fund the science and innovation system. Um, they're in the process of doing a huge revamp of the whole research funding system. Um, and it's been a really open and collaborative process.
Um, I think it's been a really positive thing. Um, and there's potentially some really exciting change coming. Um, I really hope that more support for impact comes from it. Um, I've been told not to completely hold my breath. We might have to wait a little bit longer. Um, , I've seen huge amounts of change over the last few years.
Um, personally I've really been focusing my efforts on connecting up impact specialists across New Zealand, Australasia, um, sharing best practice, um, and kind of doing a bit of a grassroots, well, if, you know, if the government can't give us funds to, to make change happen, how, how can we do it and how can we keep pushing and prodding them?
Um, and it's been working. What I would really, really like if they could give me a impact Christmas present. Um, I think the UK's Impact Acceleration Accounts are fantastic. Um, and that's what I've asked, um, the Chief Science Advisor for MB , if we could have those please.Ged:
That's, uh, we could go on all morning for me and all, all night for you.
Um, it's been fascinating to, to listen to, to how impact, uh, is affecting the research culture in, in New Zealand and, and how that interacts with other policies, uh, uh, like re fully respecting and, and including, uh, indigenous communities in the, in the research practice out there. Um, yeah, we could go on all, as I said, or morning or or all night, but I know you too, both need to either go off and, enjoy the rest of your shorter, shorter evening and.
So, and I'll thank you both, um, for, for joining us, uh, joining us today and, and illuminating our, our listeners about this topic. So thanks Jaylene. Uh, and thanks Faith.Faith:
Thank you, Ged.Ged:
And now I'm gonna hand over to Faith to give us a Māori goodbye. I believe. Faith.Faith:
I just thought it would be kind of appropriate to close, um, with a closing karakia uh, karakia means.
Uh, kind of prayer. Um, and, uh, in all our meetings, um, we will open with one and we, we close with one as well. So, um, here we go, uh, six years and my pronunciation isn't amazing, but. Put a lot of effort into trying to, to learn, uh, Maori, so
Tēnā anō tātou
Tēnei au ka mihi atu
Mō te pai o tā tātou noho tahi
Me te ātaahua o ngā kōrero
Nō reira, e aku rangatira
Hoki pai atu ki ō koutou tari
Ki ō koutou kāinga
Ki ō koutou whānau
Kāti rā, tēnā koutou
tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoaIntro:
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