We start off the new academic year with the first of 3 Research Focus Weeks.
As a researcher I know how difficult it can be to carve out time in the busy work week to focus on things like writing papers and grant applications. These activities need designated headspace, something the constant stream of emails, meetings, and other competing pressures often doesn’t allow.
However, as we all know, these activities are not only essential for our careers, the success of the university, but also for ensuring that the best research is carried out, disseminated and allowed to make a difference in society.
We created research focus weeks in 2022 as a way of allowing uninterrupted and concentrated time for our academic staff and doctoral students to focus on research activities, such as grant writing, finishing (or starting!) writing papers and articles, or for designating time to discuss and collaborate with colleagues on research areas and opportunities.
Some colleagues have used these weeks very productively in the past, for example Rachel Arnold (Reader in Sport and Performance Psychology) used a previous week to focus on developing a grant application, and is looking forward to using this coming week for collaborative data analysis:
“In the last research focus week, I was fortunate to secure a place on the RIS Writing Retreat down at the Hilton hotel in the city centre. It was a fabulous way of “switching off” from day to day tasks and having two days of time dedicated just for research. Across the two days, I was working on an ESRC grant application that is a collaboration with GW4 colleagues. Having RIS staff on hand to answer any queries and guide on particular sections was invaluable and we were delighted to have a draft of our grant completed by the end of the retreat. In the upcoming research focus week, a colleague and I have made plans to work collaboratively on analysing a dataset from a recent project.”
Keith Vance (Senior Lecturer in Department of Life Sciences) has also used previous weeks to focus on research related activities:
“The Research Focus Week in Jan gave me time to focus on writing a grant rebuttal without having to attend meetings and was well placed before the start of exam marking”.
Doctoral students are also encouraged to make the most of our Research Focus Week, with a programme of activities planned by the Doctoral College such as writing retreats a viva workshop and coaching sessions. Through these activities the doctoral students will be encouraged to re-engage and re-focus on work associated with their doctorate.
Previous writing retreats have gone down well, with the following achievements from a previous week:
- I’ve written almost the number of words needed for a short article (5000 words).
- After all the reading I’ve been stuck on, I managed to use the last session to cohesively spell out my own ideas by writing.
- Worked for all sessions without going on irrelevant and massive tangents (which is rare when I’m writing).
- I wrote 3000 words! And I wrote up a really tricky bit of my results section which I was nervous about.
- Wrote a section of my thesis that I’ve been putting off for months.
I am personally looking forward to the week, and have taken the opportunity to organise a Research Away Day with my core research team, where we will focus on our plans for the year and will deep dive into strategic research topics.
It is my hope therefore that you are able to use this Research Focus Week to its best, and please ensure that you have the next weeks blocked out in your diary.
Dates for your diary
|Academic Year||Res Focus Wk||Res Focus Wk||Res Focus Wk|
|2023/24||4 - 8 Sept 2023||8 - 12 Jan 2024||13 - 17 May 2024|