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Action Research on Research Culture

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The Action Research on Research Culture project is an international collaboration investigating how changing the recruitment, development and retention of researchers could improve research culture.

Project overview

Improving research culture – the standards, values and behaviours of researchers and the research system is a key to improving research and increasing its contribution to society. The Action Research on Research Culture (ARRC) project investigates how changing the recruitment, development and retention of researchers could improve research culture.

Many evidence-based studies, reports and surveys point to problems in the culture of academic research. These include an over-reliance on metrics, poor leadership and management, a lack of job security, unhealthy competition, and poor inter-team relationships. These problems lead to a loss of talent and diversity from the sector, and therefore loss of quality and creativity in research.

Various solutions to these problems have been proposed and the ARRC project will test three approaches intended to improve research culture. The findings will be used to develop relevant frameworks, policies and materials to ensure effective approaches that can be used by institutions and will produce sustainable long term change.

The ARRC project is an international project, led by the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh (UK), Leiden University (The Netherlands), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), and ETH Zurich (Switzerland). As the project progresses aspects of the research will be developed with, and extended to, partner institutions.

The project is co-led by Liz Simmonds, the head of research culture, and Steve Wooding, from the research strategy office.

The project team includes a balance of skills to make sure that we can:

  • Engage with researchers and other stakeholders in the research system.
  • Understand the context of different institutions and disciplines.
  • Carry out high-quality research.
  • Produce resources that individuals, and the sector, can use to improve practice.


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