Episode 6

Published on:

9th Aug 2023

(S5E6) Leadership for research impact culture: Top down or bottom up?

In our weekly Research Culture Uncovered conversations we are asking what is Research Culture and why does it matter? This episode is part of Season 5, where we are investigating the impact of impact on research culture. In this episode your host, Ged Hall, is joined by Professor Mark Birkin and Dr Emily Ennis.

Mark is the Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) and was Director of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) from 2014 until December 2022. Emily is the Research and Impact Manager for CDRC.

LIDA and CDRC were extremely successful in the University of Leeds inaugural Research Culture Awards and Engaged for Impact Awards in 2022. In the Research Culture Awards, LIDA won in two of the five categories and in the Engaged for Impact Awards, CDRC won three of the five categories and were runner-up in a fourth category. All the awards winners and runners-up were celebrated via the University's staff-facing website and social media channels over the summer of 2022.

I ask Emily and Mark about the leadership of research culture in LIDA and CDRC and why it enables these types of successes. They describe

  • the recognition of expertise across the staff in the Institute and Centre, whoever holds it and no matter what their role is.
  • a mutually supportive environment that celebrates success and collaboratively solves problems
  • empowerment of staff to lead and develop areas where the expertise and interests lie
  • a clear vision that staff buy into driven by their values and interests

You can follow LIDA on Twitter and LinkedIn

You can follow CDRC on Twitter and LinkedIn

Be sure to check out the other episodes in this season to find out more about how to ensure impact has a positive effect on your research culture.


Follow us on twitter: @ResDevLeeds, @OpenResLeeds, @ResCultureLeeds, @HallGed

Connect to us on LinkedIn: @ResearchUncoveredPodcast, @GedHall

If you would like to contribute to a podcast episode get in touch: researcherdevelopment@leeds.ac.uk

This episode is released under Research Culture Uncovered © 2023 by Research Culturosity, University of Leeds is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0 

This license requires that reusers give credit to the creator. If you remix, transform or build upon this material you may not distribute the modified material.


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 wanted it to be.


Hi, this is Ged Hall, and for those who don't know me, I'm an Academic development Consultant at the University of Leeds, and you are 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.

of Leeds ran in the summer of:

One set of awards focused on improving our research culture and LIDA nominations were winners in two of the five categories. The other awards focused on research impact in this set of awards LIDA in CDRC won three of the five categories and were runner up in the fourth. So I'm really looking forward to hearing about how the successes were delivered.

But before we dive into our discussions, our listeners always like to get to know our interviewees a little bit more. So I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about your obsessions or interests. Outside of work and who or what got you into that? So Emily, I'll come to you first.


Oh, thanks Ged. Um, had a bit of a, a puzzle on this one.

Trying to think about how best to seem interesting , um, beyond my, my work persona. Um, but I guess the one thing that I keep coming back to in terms of, um, something that is preoccupied my mind for, I guess, the longest period of time that hasn't just been , you know, study or or work has actually been, um, learning French.

Um, so I started learning French as a, as a kid for about five or six when I started learning. Uh, went all the way through to A level and then just kind of chickened out when I came to university and didn't actually do it as a kind of joint honours degree. So just before the start of the pandemic, I started going back to French classes.

Um, and I'm now kind of working. , I guess, towards fluency, um, which is quite, quite nice and quite exotic. And, um, when I went to Paris earlier this year, I did manage to actually have people speak French back to me when I said, when I use my own French. So, um, yeah, in terms of kind of what got me into it, it's just been, it's just been a fascination of mine that anyone can speak, you know, more than one language.

Um, and, you know, I, I, my, my degrees and my PhD were in English literature and I always felt like, um, you know, ha having an understanding of another language was actually really beneficial for understanding the mechanics of the language that I already spoken and already used. Um, so it did prove to be quite, quite useful.

But yeah, that, that's I guess, a thing. , you know, I actually dedicate the most time to beyond work is, is kind of reading French, watching French films, having French classes, things like that. So yeah, that, I think, I think that makes me sound interesting. But


it ma it makes you sound interesting and really clever, especially in comparison to my obsession with pies that I talked about when I was interviewed.

So, yeah. Mark, do you, could you, you give us your, your obsession outside of work?


Yeah. Well, I, I, I, um, I never thought about the challenge of trying to make myself sound interesting. Um, I did the thing that I immediately thought about. So, so I spent, uh, several years at least six as the, uh, county, county captain of the Yorkshire Chess team.

And, uh, my, one of my main, my main claims to fame in that capacity is that for the. For the first time ever, we won three successive national titles. So I was quite, uh, quite pleased with that. And I think actually in the context of this conversation, I mean, I, you know, chess, it's, it's quite interesting. It's obviously a very individual, uh, kind of sport or pastime, you know, it requires a high level of dedication, you know, and expertise and training and all of that.

But actually it's quite interesting. The reason why that team was successful, I think is because they had a real spirit. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, the, they wanted to, yeah. They wanted to win and everybody played for each other, you know, slight danger that people are worried about, you know, their own kind of individual record that they've, you know, never lost or whatever.

And, um, I'm sorry, but can't resist saying. Um, we've, we've, um, we understand your, your obsession with pies and I think I get a bit of a northwest. Um, uh, Lancashire and Yorkshire were the big rivals, so we always used to, cause it's, it starts off regional, so, uh, Yorkshire and Lancashire always had to get past one another before they could then start worrying about, uh, uh, dealing with the Southern softies.

And, um, I, I, I would never got beaten by Lancashire in either an individual or a, uh, uh, or a team match. And I'm, uh, uh, very, very pleased with that. I think I'd be, uh, the best record going get, so you can cut that one out. But I, I couldn't resist, uh, pulling your leg while we are here .


No, that's absolutely fine. I'm a, I'm a diehard Lancastrian, so, you know, there you have to let, uh, let Yorkshiremen think they're the best

Anyway, mo moving on and thank you for that. It's, you, you've actually made me feel really, um, a bit dim in comparison, so I might have to try and find some more, uh, some more, um, intellectual obsessions to engage within in the future. . Um, now we're moving into the kind of interview proper. I wonder, I wonder if Mark, you can give us a sense of what LIDA and CDRC are and how they interact, uh, and then for both of you really, how your roles within them, um, kind of flesh out.

So, Mark, can you give us the, give us that overview first?


Yeah. So, um, uh, CDRC, the Consumer Data Research Centre, we, we kind of opened our doors in 2014, so that means that we started to, thinking about a year before that it was part of the, um, Economic and Social Research Council. They, they had a big data programme at the time.

So for listeners who've not encountered big data, I guess many will have, but you, you know, it, it's the idea that, um, you know, society, the world around us is starting to generate enormous volumes of data about everything. You know, think about any, anything from medical devices to, uh, satellite imagery to, you know, customer loyalty cards, to smart energy meters.

Um, you know, we all generate kind of data through our activities. I mean, social media is, is another one, um, all the time. And yeah, that kind of information is really interesting to social scientists. Uh, you know, and a lot of ways it's far more interesting and far more powerful than, you know, things like census data or Government surveys that academics typically base their research around.

Um, but you know, one of the big issues is, so there's, there's lots of this stuff. It's really interesting, but how do I, as an academic, get access to that kind of information. Because I can't just go and knock on the door of my local Tesco and ask if they'd like to share all their Clubcard. Because we think, you know, the amount of meat people are consuming is really important for their health.

Or, you know, this, these, these kinds of questions. So the Consumer Data Research Centre was established to kind try and create a bridge between the academic world and this externally facing combination of commercial and, you know, government organizations and, and, and media businesses and all this, all this kind of thing.

s. So CDRC was established in:

you know, kind a part of that. And in, on, and on the management side. Um, so, you know, we're still going strong eight years later. You know, we're making a lot of progress, but there's still, you know, so much more to do because you, you know, there's masses of interesting work that we could be doing by engaging with more social scientists and by working, you know, more effectively and collaboratively with other organisations.

But, you know, it, it's a big challenge. We made lots of progress. It's very, very exciting. Um, you know, just briefly on the, on the LIDA side of things then. So the way that LIDA came about, I mean, coincidentally within about four weeks of the CDRC being commissioned and the project being approved by ESRC, this university was also awarded a, a very large project in medical bioinformatics.

rty for the submission of the:

And we got on very well. We both knew what was happening in our areas. We kind of just thought it would be a really good idea. Try and bring these two things together. Yeah. And both of them fairly wide ranging actually, in terms of touching computer science and mathematics and informatics, as well as medicine and business and the environment and all these kind of questions.

You know, can we do something that would really. You know, combine our efforts and, and push some, some capability and interest right through the university in a tremendously important strategic area. Because a Alan Langlands, actually by coincidence, that also, um, chaired a couple of national panels on, uh, secondary data use and those kind of questions.

So it was just quite a nice alignment really, that that led to the whole, um, uh, uh, development and, and taking LIDA forward.


That's great. It's lovely to see research assessment, having a positive, uh, impact, uh, you know, research assessment or Research Excellence Framework in the UK that Mark mentioned there. So Emily, I'll come to you.

What's, uh, tell us about your role in, in CDRC and uh, and what you get

up to.


Yeah. So, um, a, as Mark said, CDRC's been around, uh, since 2014. I'm a much newer addition, um, to the, to the centre. So, um, by my understanding, the kind of first phase of CDRC involved kind of heavy investment of resource into establishing the data store that we have.

before I joined in November,:

and also to provide kind of additional resource to CDRC researchers, um, through kind of my support. So as with LIDA, CDRC is a group of kind of interdisciplinary academics. They are, um, typically kind of like parented or housed in, in, in, um, you know, the Faculties of Medicine, um, Faculty of Environment and the Leeds Business School.

Um, so you know, their day jobs, you know, they're four out of five days might be within a school or faculty, and then kind of however many days attached to to CDRC. So, you know, it was really important I think, from my understanding of why my role was created to make sure that someone was kind of keeping tabs on the research that was kind of specific to CDRC and the impact that was specific to CDRC, but also making sure that there was this, um, resource within CDRC as a kind of place where interdisciplinary researcher, interdisciplinary research was happening.

Mm-hmm. . Um, so that, that could kind of be, I guess not, I don't want to say measured because I think that that's kind of too REF-y, but, um, you know, that there was, so, there was a resource within the CDRC to help those academics, um, realise their, their impact. And so I guess in terms of what my day-to-day job looks like.

So obviously from an impact perspective, you know, I collect evidence of impact. I kind of pursue lines of impact. I, I kind of make suggestions about how research could be impactful, but also from a kind of research management perspective, my job looks like kind of helping with funding bids, maybe identifying things like follow on funding or impact acceleration funding that could be applied for.

I do, um, sometimes take kind of a leading role in some research projects. So, um, a research project that we ha uh, kind of worked collaboratively on with Leeds City Council recently, which was one of the award winners at the, uh, Engaged for impact awards that you talked about, Ged. Um, that was kind of, so that was on, um, looking at

carbon footprint of foods that Leeds City Council, um, procured. So part of my kind of role, and that was actually seeing the opportunity for researchers in CDRC to work with Leeds City Council, putting them in touch with each other. And then actually kind of, I guess managing that, that research project and also line managing the data scientist that was on that project.

So that's a kind of, I guess, more research leader, research management kind of perspective. Mm-hmm. and I also help with things like government consultations, scoping meetings, putting people in touch with each other and, and project management. So it's not just about the impact, it's also about that kind of additional, again, resource and infrastructure for, for researchers in the CDRC.



That's brilliant. I mean, it's lovely to, to hear, um, you being there to, to really help and actually drive some things that, because I, I do. Sometimes wonder whether there's just too much advice, uh, and not enough direct help offered to, offered to academics. So it's great to to see you in that, in that space.

Um, so obviously, um, impact and research culture must be high priority for, for LIDA and CDRC, judging by the number of nominations and actually the success, uh, of those nominations in, in the two awards in the summer. So, Uh, just kind of picking in on that, what elements of research culture have emerged as priorities for you to work on, um, within LIDA and CDRC?

And, and, and I suppose, how do you decide on those collectively with all the people involved? Emily, I'll come to you on that one first.


I suspected you might come to me first. Because I had the thinking face on. Um, I mean, it, it's, it's, it's really interesting actually how, um, I think CDRC works as a, as a group of individuals, um,

So I think that both the researchers and the operational team within CDRC tend to be fairly autonomous. Um, so where there have been opportunities to drive forward different elements of, of research culture, um, you know, that's kind of been taken forward by individuals. So yeah, our senior, uh, ops coordinator, uh, Kylie Norman, she, she leads quite strongly on, on our EDI (Equality Diversity Inclusion) .

uh, kind of strand of research culture, I guess, um, looking quite a lot. Uh, positive action recruitment, um, and things like decolonising data science as well. So that has kind of appeared as a, as a strand of our research culture that has been led by one individual. Um, I think there's also a, a kind of new and emerging strand to our research culture, which is about the ability to respond in an agile way to actual kind of really pressing societal concerns.

joined this role in November,:

So, uh, yeah. Another kind of strand of our, our research culture has been focusing on, you know, what can we solve and. Quickly. And so that has kind of meant that, I guess in terms of how we work as a, as an organisation, as, as a, as a centre, it means developing a research culture where we're able to work in quite agile ways and quite responsive ways.

And I think one of the ways we're able to do that is, um, the CDRC has a team of research data scientists, um, as well as access to some data scientists on the LIDA data scientist development program. So these are. So on, on the, on the Data Scientist development program, these are, um, kind of recent graduates or career changers who are doing two six month projects focused on solving real world problems, usually with, with external partners.

And then our research data scientists team are kind of available to work across different projects, um, bring kind of real technical expertise to the research that we do. Having access to these kind of two, I guess, branches of, of, of data scientists is what allows us to go, okay, we really need to respond to this really quickly.

Let's put the data scientist on it for six months, or let's put our research data scientist on it for a couple of months and, and kind of move work around. So it's made us a bit more responsive by having that additional resource beyond typical kind of academic time. And I think that the way that we're able to, to do that beyond the resource as well, is that, you know, as a, as a centre, We are quite effective at, um, making it clear what's a priority?

So we have weekly meetings. We have quarterly meetings. There is a research management process, um, that I help to facilitate. And we also have a Partnerships Development Manager. So we have kind of a lot of resource in terms of identifying, okay, we need to seize on this opportunity. Who in our team can do it?

Okay, that's great. But then also, when are we gonna check in on this? How are we gonna measure the su the success? There's lots of opportunities to do that. Um, so yeah, I guess those are the, I guess not necessarily the priorities, but those are the things that have ended up really kind of typifying, I think, how, how CDRC can work.


Lovely. Mark, can I get your view on that as well?


Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, one of the big things that immediately struck me about this is, you know, I, I, I don't think we tend to think of it at all as, as a design and build kind of process. And, you know, I was thinking kind of the key thing is thinking about the way that the management of, of the CDRC works.

I mean, it, it's interesting because we have a, there it is like a sister institute, which is run out of UCL (University College London) , and they have this senior management team. And from time to time we get these kind of formal communications about, you know, this senior management team would, you know, would, would like to enter into a negotiation about this year's, you know, user meeting or something.

Um, so the way that we largely operate within CDRC is that we have a round table meeting every Wednesday. . Um, and so as long as we can make it, you know, kind of the co-directors are there and, um, and most of the, the feelings about, but I think I'm certainly, we would agree it's not, it's not everybody in the group cause it's a very large, um, it's a very large centre, but you, there are a large number being maybe 15 people around the table.

A combination of, of academics and, um, and, and the, the key, you know, kind of managers, research managers and things, um, you know, we just talk things through what we've been doing. Um, you know, what's come up. What the opportunities are, what we need to do. Um, yeah, and, and I, and I think it's just a fairly open process.

You know, it's a great way to un to make sure that everybody understands, you know, what's going on. And I think, you know, as long as people kind of. Yeah, that, that gives 'em a clear pitch, I think, of what's going on everywhere. We all have a good understanding, I hope, of what the ambitions of, um, you know, what our ambitions are as, as a group.

So who's doing what, what we need to be doing. And yeah, so it's not like we sit down and think, oh, crumbs, how can we, you know, what steps do we need to take to establish a really excellent culture here? Um, you know, I'm, I'm not saying this is the only way that you do it, but I think it would be our experience that it's, you know, that it's kind of grown organically.

Mm-hmm. . Um, so yeah, I mean that was, that was one thought. I, I mean, I, maybe I could say, say, say two other things. I, I wrote down, um, this is, this is where I, I, I, um, I wrote down 10 things. I thought crumbs I'm in danger. Right. You one of these self-help manuals that you want to burn when I see them in train stations and that kind of thing.

I don't really want that, but, uh, uh, yeah, that's what I did. So I mean, um, Emily mentioned the Data Science Development Programme. That was on my list as well, but you, one of the things about a Data Science Development Programme is that it's been coordinated for about the last five years by someone who is absolutely fantastic.

And if I were to take, you know, certainly when we recruited her, You know, she would not have been on the top half of the, kind of the pay scales, you know, of, of, you know, the management structure in terms of seniority. She totally made, made this Data Science Development Programme her own. Um, you know, so, so she really takes, you know, ownership for, it looks after the, you know, the, the young data scientists who are, who are on that programme, you know, has the relationships with, uh, people who are actually sponsoring, uh, the projects.

Um, Yeah. And, and the supervisors, the academics and all that kind of thing. And, and just done an absolutely fantastic job. And, you know, one of my, you know, one of my, every this, I say this, this, this has like a terrible question. Maybe, maybe I should, this should be the, of my book actually, you know? But, um, I think everyone's the leader in a, in a, in a, in a team that functions well.

Mm-hmm. , um, yeah. And you don't have to look to me or Ed Manley or to Nik Lomax, or even if you know you want to do impact, then Emily Ennis will help you out. But we don't have to put Emily in charge of a project that's delivering impact. And yeah. And again, it, it sounds like a bit of a cliches. I've been asking myself for a couple of, uh, you kind of job interviews you like about sort of leadership and management.

It's not about, it's not about managing people, it really is about, you know, I think trying to, trying to em, em, empower them as as, as, as leaders and to take, you know, kind of control and, and responsibility and pride and, and, and everything in the work that they do. And, but then again, and again, just going back to, I started, you know, that fact that you can all sit round the table together, whether you're having, you know, Christmas dinner or a weekly meeting or, or what have you, and everybody's.

You know, success in that group means something to, to everybody. And then, you know, we kind of feel that, that automatically, I think, leads on to an element of, of, of fitting other people's pain if they're, if they're struggling or, or whatever. But again, you know, if you get that right, then people will actually, you know, they'll want to help one another out to, to get over those, you know, kind of bumps in the road and, and, and, and things as well.

Um, so yeah, I mentioned to you in early correspondence, I, I, I think it's quite a, um, a, a a a bottom kind of process.


Well, it's certainly successful. So I wanted to, in the next question, kind of like, maybe, maybe feel, make you feel slightly uncomfortable in, in terms of, I'm gonna ask you two in terms of specifically what your input in, into that success is.

You know, what, how are you enabling that kind of almost bottom up? How are you allowing that to happen? What, how are you cultivating it? So, Mark, I'll come to you first as, as people would normally expect it, culture to be driven top down. I,


I, I think it helps if you are kind of successful and good at what you do.

And, um, I mean, I'm always, um, and I did in my notes, I mean, there's always gonna be a footballing analogy in there somewhere and, uh, or a sporting analogy. Um, and I, I mean, I'm not actually quite sure where this one leads you. I mean, I, I thought about kind of a captain of a football team and that is an interesting one because, you know, I mean, I think a captain of a football team, you know, quite often is the best player, um, or certainly someone whose name is close to being first on the team sheet kind of thing.

, Bobby Moore was the captain:

Cause you know, for example, Emily knows far more about impact and how you achieve it than, uh, than I ever would. But on the other hand, I wouldn't regard myself as being completely ignorant. And I'd, and I'd like to think that again, if we go back to those, you know, kind of bumps in the road or what have you, and Emily had a challenge that, um, you know, she needed a bit of help with or advice on that she'd be able to talk to me, you know, kind of intelligently about that.

Um, I'm, I'm wondering where this spiel is actually taking me at the, uh, at the end of the day, um, you know, So that, that kind of leadership by example, I've always regarded as, as, as something that's, that's really important. Again, you know, perhaps in a leader rather than a manager. I think sometimes people in.

managerial probably all these things to do, you know, how can I kinda pass them out and, and deliver them And yeah, honestly think that, I'd like to think that my mindset is, okay, all these things need to be done. You know, what can I contribute to that? You know, and how can I find the best people to kind of help me and to, you know, build it, uh, build it together kind of thing.

Having a good strategy is important, and, but again, I think it's one of those things where, you know, you, you, you don't necessarily sit down and design it or you can't, you know, and you can't kind of do it by numbers. It doesn't matter how long you, hmm. You know, you sit people in a room and try to think about what it, what it might be.

You know, I think we're quite fortunate in the sense that, well, I, I hope you and the listeners will have got it, but, you know, I feel that I can describe what CDRC in particular is trying to do, you know, in a couple of minutes and people will understand it. Um, and so, you know, if you can be clear about.

Kind of what, what your, what your strategy is and, and I guess what your values are. But again, that, I think people just get that by the fact of, you know, do, do you have cups of coffee together? Um, you know, occasionally go out for. Yeah. Meals or this, that and the other. Um, yeah, that it, that it will kind of come through.

So I, I'll, I'll pause a breath there and maybe, uh, um, Emily can, can have a go.


Absolutely. Emily. So what's your contribution? Let's be, let's be REF-y about it. .


Uh, well, I think what Mark has said is, is actually been. A really useful thing for me to reflect on because I was also thinking, so one of the things I really value about my role, and that was also quite a bit of a culture shift, moving from similar roles elsewhere in the university to the CDRC, is that there's a real recognition of expertise in the CDRC.

So, you know, I am recognised as an impact professional. The Partnerships Development Manager is recognised as someone who can, you know, foster or build and develop partnerships. And, you know, we've got senior ops, uh, coordinator that that's her area of expertise. And, and maybe that's because there's any. One of us in each of these roles.

And, and so we really do have to kind of embody that role and, and, and represent that kind of work to the CDRC. But I also think a, as Mark as as kind of said, we're also kind of empowered to do those things, um, by, you know, the recognition that we receive for the work that we do, but also from, you know, the fact that our kind of weekly discussions round table, kind of fairly equitable kind of discussion, my work is just as important as a co-investigator work, uh, co-investigator's work, or a co-director's work.

That is that it, you know, it's entirely level playing field. And you know, like I say, part of that is recognition of expertise. But also part of that is, um, you know, empowerment and allowing us to, to, to lead on, on things and say, oh, I think this is a priority. I think this is something that we should do.

We're gonna do it. Um, and, and you know, those things tend to be successful because, um, you get buy-in by virtue of being kind of excited about something and feeling like it's something that you can take forward and, and lead. So, you know, I think when I was thinking about, you know, what, why do. , why do I feel like I'm successful in the work that I do?

And part of me was thinking, well, you know, it is beneficial that I have a PhD. It is beneficial that I've been a researcher and, and that I know how this works. But I also think what is really important about my role is that everyone, everyone buys into what I do. And the reason why they do that is because everyone, like there's a culture

like recognition that I'm the person to do that, that I'm the impact person. And, and as Mark said, I'm not the only, you know, I'm not the only person responsible if, you know, people are perfectly capable of leading their own impact projects. But, you know, I am recognised as, as delivering that bit of expertise.

Just as, you know, everyone else in, in, in the centre has their own area, area of expertise. So I think that that. . It is my, it is my contribution. I, I have kind of, I think, helped CDRC realise its impact or at least reflect on it, but I think, I don't think I would've been able to do that without the culture that already existed here or that was growing here before I got here.


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I was gonna ask you a really un unfair question and actually get you to rate Mark on an impact scale, but I won't , I won't do that.


Ged, could I. The wild cards then, and maybe, uh, you, you, you can decide later whether you want to include the


Sure. Go ahead.


But so, so from my, uh, from my as unwritten coffee table book, but quickly, uh, taking shape in my, uh, in my mind and, uh, the first one is, um, you know, I mean I've, I've always worked reasonably hard but also try to have fun

at, uh, at, at work. And, um, I, I was just reflecting back and then you were saying only about team, team building and things. And so when I was, uh, a much less experienced both from than I'm now, um, we stayed people on these sort of team building weekends. So I used to run a university company and, uh, uh, we used to that kind of thing.

And I, I remember one time. Uh, we were in the, in the Peak District and we were doing an exercise, you know, one of these things where you have to put rafts together out of barrels and ropes and all that kind of stuff. And, um, and there were a couple of teams and, uh, and, and my team, I thought we, we'd done really well and we managed to get across the, uh, across the lake to the middle and all that.

And, and anyway, at the end of the afternoon, . Um, it somehow turned out that just one member of our team ended up on a collapsing raft that the others had, uh, had erm engineered. And, um, and what I didn't say is that I also had a, a reputation for being slightly too enthusiastic on occasion on these, uh, on these things.

But I've, I've always remembered, and, and I've always taken great satisfaction in the fact that, uh, Uh, the members of my team are able to, uh, dip me in the water as a gentle, uh, means of pointing out to me that perhaps I get a bit too excited sometimes when the, uh, uh, when the, when the heat is on. Um, and, and the other one, I think, I mean, I mean, I, I I couch it as, but perhaps, uh, uh, I recognise that, uh, you know, the importance of, of good fortune from time to time.

You know, one of the things that really irritates me. You know, if you're asking Alan Sugar these questions, you know, um, sorry. Or some, someone like that, I suppose they'd be dramatic. You know, they'd probably telling you about, you know, how hard they worked and, uh, you know, hard than everybody else. And, you know, they started younger and they were cleverer and this the other, and sometimes the truth is that the people are very successful.

Just, were just a bit luckier at the, uh, important time than. Thousands of other people who, who might equally, you know, with the right, uh, with the right opportunity at the right moment have been, have been there. And again, you know, I mean, just come back to those, you again, you're thinking about successes within your organisation.

You know, some, sometimes we're, um, successful because we did great things, and obviously if you do good things then it helps, but some, sometimes you're unsuccessful because, you know, it's, it's just not your, not your turn. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing, you know, you're doing anything wrong.

Um, and yeah, I think taking a rounded view of all these, of all these kind of questions is, is



I'm just interested in terms of where, where you go next with, uh, with the kind of topics around research, culture and impact. So any, any thoughts on future plans in terms of how you, how do you develop on, on the success you've had already? Emily.


in, I mean, to the, I guess the immediate aftermath, but that makes it sound like a negative thing. But, you know, having won these Research Culture Awards and also Engaged for Impact Awards, we received a little kind of, uh, financial boost, a little, a little kind of prize money pot.

Um, that obviously helps us give us. , you know, he helps give us, um, resources, something immediately, um, you know, to within the next kind of year to think about what we do. And so, um, you know, one of the, the Research Culture Awards we won was for, um, op kind of openness, open and op, open research and impact essentially.

Um, and so we wanted to think about. , you know, the CDRC was set up to make these data accessible to, to, to suddenly, you know, like, like Mark said, you can't just walk into Tesco and ask for it. You know, it, it, it had, we, we are a platform and we're facilitating new research and we thought, well, you know, how do we, how do we want to continue do to do that?

And, and then also in the back of our minds, acknowledging that through our Data Scientist Development Programme, we've done things like positive action recruitment and that we're continuing to do positive action recruitment. So, you know, recruiting more BAME (Black Asian minority ethnic) data scientists and also women data scientists.

So that's also about making data open and, and accessible. So with the, with the money that we receive for that Research Culture Award, we actually created an open data, uh, science bursary. Um, which allows, uh, people with protected characteristics and people from low income households to do the, uh, short courses that the CDRC runs in data science, uh, different kind of data science skills.

And to do and to do that with the help of the bursary, with the kind of aim of making data science more equitable. Um, we know as a, as a research centre that data and data scientists have a bias. Uh, and one of the ways to kind of limit that bias is to have a more representative data science workforce, but also more representative data science.

And you can only get. More representative data science with more representative data scientists. Um, so we're kind of, that's, that's been a step forward for us both in terms of thinking about how we use our platform as making consumer data more accessible, but also, you know, to kind of target some of our, I guess EDI, um, objectives as well.

Um, So that's a kind of immediate step that we've taken. Um, we've also, with this success kind of, um, given ourselves an opportunity and a, and a and a chance to reflect on where we are and what we want to be. So, um, we're also currently working through a vision statement exercise. So we've got working groups, um, for different kind of vision statement topics within the CDRC.

So data ethics, data governance, partnership working. Um, values, things like that, that will kind of give us opportunity to reflect on what we already do well and also what, what our kind of aspirations are for kind of forward thinking and, and, and future research. And I guess the thing to bear in mind in all of this is that, because the CDRC is is funded by the ESRC, we are only funded up until a certain point in time and we're having to kind of make plans, um, and strategies and kind of to anticipate things like impact beyond, you know, the known kind of frontier.

moment we're funded up until:

Um, so, you know, one thing that we are doing from a practical perspective is, is kind of focusing a lot more from my mind on kind of impact with, with policy makers. And I think we've, we've done quite a lot of that in the last year, but also developing it a lot of data products from our, from our data. And you know, one of the things that's good about that is that it continues to exist online.

It's, it's not a moment in time necessarily. It's a, it is something that continues to, you know, grow new research and to develop new research. So, you know, I can't imagine a situation in which the CDRC doesn't continue but equally. If, if it didn't, there's our legacy there for us already in tho in those data products and those tools that people can use to do new research.

And equally the data that we have on the data store can be used to do new research. So our legacy and our sustainability certainly goes beyond whatever fixed point in time might be the funding cutoff.


Yeah. Mark, anything you wanted to add to that in terms of where you hope LIDA and CDRC go with research culture and research impact?


Well, I dunno about, I dunno about rating me, I think Emily should be doing my job cause I'm sure I could, uh, um, uh, uh, I done a lot to, to um, to what she just said, which is great. I mean, I, I, I suppose, you know, one thing I think I'm. Yeah, is really important if you can, to continue on that path of, of, of sort of success and growth.

And I mean, you, as, as Emily said, it could be realistic. You know, we don't have, you know, kind of long-term guaranteed funding for our future. But yeah, on the other hand, I think we are quite, quite fortunate in the sense that we are working in, you know, a very dynamic area, you know, and, and everything. I certainly could have said more about, you know, kind of data science and AI (artificial intelligence) and, and all those sorts of things.

You know, I, I, I do believe, you know, I think that that, that we believe that, you know, we have an important specific mission and it is part of a much bigger, you know, kind of social, social, um, and, you know, kinda national agenda. Um, so yeah. And. It is important to continue to be ambitious and again, if you, if you can, to continue to kind of prosper and grow.

And again, partly because that, you know, that just allows everybody to, to, to, to, to grow as a group, you know, and to create new opportunities for people to, to move into and all that sort of thing. And you know, we've been quite lucky in that regard and hopefully will continue to be in terms of the funding that.

We can receive and our ambition. And I think maybe the hard challenge comes if you, if it starts to slow down, you need to try to create that, create that thinking without, you know, necessarily, um, you know, doubling in size every, every couple of years, um, kind of thing. So yeah, I think, but, but then again, I, yeah, everything else that Emily said, I mean, I just think for me is an endorsement.

A lot of things that we talked about. Cuz to be frank, there's some things in there that either, I dunno, Or, yeah, I don't really understand how they came about. They just happened while I was, uh, uh, you know, kind of partly, uh, paying attention and Yeah. But the other thing I think is that you, you know, we, that I think we're quite fortunate is that our sort of agenda.

Um, it, it, it is something that you can really get enthusiastic about. You know, we need to try to engage the public in the kind of conversations that we are having because that's the only way that you can take forward these kind of conversations. You know? Are you happy for your Clubcard data to be used for people to, under other people to understand how there might be risk of heart disease or something?

Um, Yeah. And yeah, the impact agenda is, is, is really important to us because, you know, we can't do what we do without engaging with those sort of third party organisations. Um, and you know, again, as, as, as Emily said, you know, there's a really strong, um, imperative or incentive for us to be doing, you know, the, the, the right sorts of things, if I could put it so crudely in relation to, you know, kind of wi widening participation and, you know, more.

Balanced approach to, to who's involved in, you know, in, in, in data and data science. So, you know, it, it's both from that point of view of, of, of kinda the, the, the growth agenda, but the hearts and minds kind of thing. It's, it's a really great area to be, to be, to be working in.


Emily, Mark, thank you for joining us today and, and lifting the lid on, on how LIDA and CDRC formulate their research culture and, and deliver their research impact from a really, what sounds like a really, um, family basis almost in terms of a, sort of a cultural perspective, if I can put it that way.

So thank you much for sharing your thoughts.


Yeah, well, from my point of view, I'd just like to say thanks for, uh, you know, giving us the opportunity to talk about, uh, you know, things that, that we do every day and that we are really interested in. But, uh, yeah, really, really nice to have the chance to share that with yourself, Ged and with the listeners.

And, uh, Hopefully find, uh, uh, something of, of, uh, interest or entertainment in, uh,


That's great. Thanks Emily. Thanks, Mark.


Yeah, thank you Ged.


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About the Podcast

Research Culture Uncovered
Changing Research Culture through conversations
At the University of Leeds, we believe that all members of our research community play a crucial role in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture. Across the globe, the urgent need for a better Research Culture in Higher Education is widely accepted – but how do you make it happen? This weekly podcast focuses on our ideas, approaches and learning as we contribute to the University's attempt to create a Research Culture in which everyone can thrive. Whether you undertake, lead, fund or benefit from research - these are the conversations to listen to if you want to explore what a positive Research Culture is and why it matters.

Unless specified in the episode shownotes, Research Culture Uncovered © 2023 by Research Culturosity, University of Leeds is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. This license requires that reusers give credit to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. Some episodes may be licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0, please check before use.

About your hosts

Emma Spary

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I moved into development after several years as an independent researcher and now lead the team providing professional and career development for all researchers and those supporting research. I am passionate about research culture and supporting people. I lead our Concordat implementation work and was part of the national Concordat writing group. I represent Leeds as a member of Researchers14, the N8PDRA group and UKRI’s Alternative Uses Group.

Taryn Bell

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I work as a Researcher Development Adviser at the University of Leeds. My focus is on career development, with a particular focus on supporting funding and fellowships. I previously worked at the University of York as their Fellowship Coordinator, developing and growing the University's community of early career fellows. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more (T.L.Bell@leeds.ac.uk)!

Katie Jones

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I am a Researcher Development and Culture Project Officer at the University of Leeds, where I lead projects within the Researcher Development and Culture Team. My role involves managing projects that enhance the development of researchers and foster a positive research culture across the University and the higher education sector.

Tony Bromley

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I've worked in the area of the development of researchers for 20 years, including at the national and international level. I was lead author of the UK sector researcher development impact framework charged with evaluating the over £20M per year investment of UK research councils in researcher development. I have convened the international Researcher Education and Development Scholarship (REDS) conference for a number of years and have published on researcher development evaluation and pedagogy. All the details are on www.tonybromley.com !! Also why not take a look at https://conferences.leeds.ac.uk/reds/

Ged Hall

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I've worked for almost 20 years in researcher development, careers guidance and academic skills development. For the last decade I've focused on the area of research impact. This has included organisational development projects and professional development for individual researchers and groups. I co-authored the Engaged for Impact Strategy and am heavily involved in its implementation, across the University of Leeds, to build a healthy impact culture. For 10 years after my PhD, I was a consultant in the utility sector, which included being broker between academia and my clients.

Ruth Winden

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After many years running my own careers consultancy business I made the transition to researcher development leading our careers provision. My background is in career coaching, facilitation and group-based coaching, and I have a special interest in cohort-based coaching programmes which help researchers manage their careers proactively and transition into any sector and role of their choice.

Nick Sheppard

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I have worked in scholarly communications for over 15 years, currently as Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds. I am interested in effective dissemination of research through sustainable models of open access, including underlying data, and potential synergies with open education and Open Educational Resources (OER), particularly underlying technology, software and interoperability of systems.