“You don’t suddenly finish your PhD and know everything you need to know about being a researcher,” affirms Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Charles Rice.
“My discipline, architectural history, may seem untouched by technology, but I know there are ways to increase the broader appeal of my work, for example, by drawing on data and enhancing its visual presentation.
“To have an impact, you need to push your research out into the world, and there’s always more to know about how to do that.”
Although the library, colleagues, StaffConnect, and training run by the Graduate Research School (GRS), Research and Innovation Office (RIO) and faculties offer important professional development opportunities for researchers, sometimes finding out what you need, when you need it, can be tricky.
That’s why Charles is leading a pilot program that brings together all these elements. The Research Excellence & Support Hub (RES Hub as it’s known) will see training happening every day on campus in an open space where you can get answers to your questions when you need them.
It’s modelled on and hosted at the highly successful LX.Lab in building 6 and aims to make research support easier to access and more visible across UTS.
“The library, RIO, GRS, the faculties, the eResearch team ... they all do a great job of research support,” says Charles. “But, they all exist physically in different areas, they all run a range of programs and, from a researcher’s point of view, they are hard to see as a continuous suite.
“We want to draw together the high-quality support and training that is already going on, in a shared space, to create increased value and engagement. Anyone turning up at any time should find something of value.”
The RES Hub will see dedicated programming in the second half of the year targeted at researchers across the university. A single day could incorporate a troubleshooting session on costing and pricing, a faculty-specific presentation on new platforms, a Q&A with colleagues about grant applications, and dedicated drop-in hours for specific topics or technologies. All this alongside the usual LX.Lab programs and services for learning and teaching.
With a focus on lifelong learning forming a significant part of UTS’s next long-term strategy, the hub couldn’t come at a better time.
“The RES Hub is about exploring how we become a place where researchers can envisage their career development and be supported to meet the needs and the changing demands of being a researcher in the 21st century.”
The significance of using the physical space of the LX.Lab is essential to Charles, in part due to his own academic background in architecture. “The location and literal transparency of that space is really crucial,” he says. “I know how important space and visibility are to the way people interact with each other and collaborate, so the spatial element is very, very important.”
Charles hopes that the pilot program will lead to a dedicated space on campus for research support. But, he says the collaboration with the LX.Lab is not just a marriage of convenience; it represents a pan-university commitment to helping UTS staff adapt to a changing academic environment.
“A key reason to collaborate with the LX.Lab is the relationship between research and teaching, and defining what it means to be a balanced academic of the future,” explains Charles.
“That’s something we’re really going to focus on as a university. And this is going to be the first step.”