Research culture

When we talk about research culture on this webpage, the terms ‘we’ and ‘our’ refer to the whole University community: senior management, professional services staff, research staff, research students, and others.

The St Andrews vision for research culture

The purpose of this vision is to present an outline definition of what we mean by the term ‘research culture’ and what we want to achieve. Details will be provided in the accompanying documents that will be produced, such as the upcoming mapping and action plan. Although presented as a list, each of the elements are intertwined with each other, and are presented in no particular order.

It is a strategic priority of the University of St Andrews to undertake world-leading research of the highest quality, and the University recognises that this is dependent on a wide range of institutional, group and individual factors that define the environment in which researchers work.

Drawing on the University Strategy and enabling strategies, our vision is to nurture an institutional research culture in which the following are supported and recognised:

  • Collegiality, fairness and transparency: supporting each other to succeed through the observance of high standards; and treating each other with respect, including evaluating research quality using fair approaches, and demonstrating that our policies are implemented in an effective manner.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion: promoting diversity in those leading and undertaking research, and research participants, valuing individuality, and ensuring equal opportunities.
  • Collaboration and interdisciplinarity: supporting such scholarship and research where it adds value, and in doing so, recognising and valuing the range of contributions that result in effective teams.
  • Career development and work-life balance: supporting each other to achieve our full potential in our chosen career paths, including development of leadership skills, and encouraging a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
  • Integrity: supporting each other to apply principles of good conduct to all aspects of our research, impact and innovation activities, and to maximise the reproducibility of experiment-based research.
  • Open research and public engagement: embracing open research practices, and public engagement and involvement in research.
  • Research impact and responsible innovation: supporting researchers to use their research findings to influence society outwith academia, and to engage in innovation that is socially desirable and in the public interest.

How we will achieve this vision

The University Research Culture Group is joining up existing activities related to research culture to coordinate and co-develop cultural change between the University’s research community, professional services community and senior management:

  • mapping and celebrating what we have already achieved towards nurturing this culture
  • prioritising the actions we still need to take to further nurture this culture, including actions that will require us to advocate for change at a national or international level.

This group is steered by the University’s Research, Impact and Innovation Committee and chaired by the Vice-Principal (Research, Collections and Innovation). It coordinates work across stakeholders, including the wider research community, and the following:

Research project on research culture at St Andrews

The University has funded a research project on ‘Research Culture in the Covid-19 era’, which is independent of, but liaising with, the University Research Culture Group.

The research is being undertaken by social scientists, and overseen by academics in the University’s Schools of Psychology & Neuroscience, and Management. The steering group for the research involves:

  • academics from St Andrews’ Schools of Art History, Chemistry, Management, Mathematics and Statistics, Modern Languages, and Psychology and Neuroscience
  • professional services staff from Research and Innovation Services
  • academics and professional services staff from the University of Glasgow.

Glasgow is already doing visible work on research culture, and recently launched a Lab for Academic Culture to help coordinate sector-wide action.

Starting in 2021, the project has involved a literature review of existing reports and surveys on research culture, which was used to inform an internal survey on facilitators and obstacles to a positive research culture.

Once this project concludes, it is intended to seek national follow-on funding to pilot interventions across multiple disciplines and Scottish universities.