The Research Career Wheel

The Research Career Wheel is a multidimensional developmental concept showing the role and impact of informal, internal and external interventions and frameworks that support lecturers’ research development and progression. In following the pathways indicated in the Wheel, lecturers can enrich their subject matter and the academic curriculum as well as making novel contributions to the academic field.

The concept was developed by AUAS professor Lori Divito, professor Diane Sloane from Northumbria University and Lucy Kerstens, Research Manager at the AUAS Faculty of Business and Economics, and was funded twice from the joint Pump Prime fund by AUAS and Northumbria University. As a team, we started working on the Research Career Wheel in 2019 and first developed the poster.

After we were awarded a Pump Prime Fund in March 2020 by our joint universities, we were able to conduct a further literature review on the challenges that Higher Education Institutions face to develop Faculty staff into professional researchers. Based on a survey we carried out under some HEI institutions, and supported by the literature, we also developed and tested a workshop for young career researchers at AUAS with a special workshop guide.

The Wheel is all about one’s professional attitude – starting from the intrinsic motivation to learn and develop (with important components such as confidence, enthusiasm, ambition) and develop from being a ‘restricted’ to an ‘extended’ professional by undertaking different activities that help develop one’s professionality. In- and external frameworks play an important role in this development: we call these the enablers. Or if they don’t work, disablers. For example institutional frameworks are extremely important to facilitate research, researchers and a research culture (is research considered important, what opportunities are there for researchers, are they funded, how does this transition to research output?). We discovered that university driven motivation is a positive predicator of a researchers’ development. As lack of institutional reputation is a disabler for a researcher’s motivation. By combining internal enablers to external enablers (for example the institution wishes to go for a certain accreditation) this accelerates and facilitates development of internal research policies and developmental cultures.

The Wheel shows how undertaking various activities helps to develop both explicit and implicit learning, as well as formal and informal learning and development. Although the Wheel was developed for a research setting, it could very well be adapted for a teaching or research support setting. The Research Career Wheel was accepted as a poster for the INORMS 2020 conference, which was moved to 2021 due to Covid where it was presented online. Then in 2022, the outcome of the survey and workshop was accepted as a Pecha Kucha presentation at the EARMA conference titled: “Informal professional learning in supporting lecturer research development and know-how.”

Published by  Communication 12 October 2022