EARMA Conference Oslo


Lockdown as a catalyst for researcher engagement

Reimagining effective strategies


Sinead Gorham


  • P
    Paulo Soncini, Aoife Brady, Dr. Claire Whelan, Jane Dunne, Dr. John Judge


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Poster

Topic: Proposal Development


In this poster the ADAPT Research Development team (RDT) reflects on how researcher engagement was re-imagined throughout the Covid lockdowns. We invite you to share your ideas on novel hybrid/blended solutions of providing RMA. What worked well for your institutions during these times? What didn’t? With the re-emergence from lockdowns will it all be online from now on? This session will explore strategies used, and how to retain best practices in our post-Covid world?
Since the emergence of Covid and the move to working from home the multi-institutional ADAPT RDT (which includes eight Higher Education Institutions spread across three provinces in Ireland with over 300 researchers from numerous disciplines) instigated a number of tools and techniques to assist with effective researcher engagement in remote working environments.
Traditionally pre-Covid, a significant amount of the team’s engagement with researchers was via formal pre-organised and informal in-person meetings, as well as open door drop-ins in the office, resulting in strengthened relationships and engagement. In our Research Centre, this is particularly pertinent with the RDT working side-by-side with academics, Postdocs and PhD students all sharing the same space. With the forced move to work off-site, these interactions were lost.
To begin addressing this void during Covid, the team implemented several new processes to connect in a novel way with researchers. Tailored virtual call information sessions were scheduled, after exercises to map activities for specific calls. Virtual writing sprints, proposal intelligence workshops, recorded training sessions, feedback loop/s for draft material and portal guidance were all incorporated into our practices. These virtual processes were promoted through various channels, from mailing lists, collaborations with both Education and Public Engagement, Marketing and Communications colleagues within the Centre, to directly through PI’s leading groups across the Centre.
In addition, the RDT became increasingly aware of the importance of researcher well-being at this time. This was emphasized by the results of several questionnaires circulated to research staff via Centre management and observed in our day-to-day internal interactions. The focus on researcher well-being led to a softer engagement strategy; not only call/opportunity based but in the form of light touch weekly “drop-in” coffee sessions, focussed on free discussion, as well as one-to-one follow-up sessions when and where necessary. The well-being of the members of the RDT was also brought into focus with bi-weekly check-in sessions scheduled, as informal catch-ups with emphasis on team welfare.
Learning outcomes:
The researcher-managed process sessions have generated strong interest, been well attended and submission numbers in those calls have remained steady and in some cases increased throughout the pandemic period.
The “drop-in” coffee sessions have led to a number of fruitful discussions between researchers, in particular some collaborative transdisciplinary research opportunities have stemmed from these weekly interactions, as well as building and sustaining relationships during difficult times.
This session is aimed at pre-award research managers in any stage of their career (beginner to experts). The focus is to share ideas on novel blended solutions of providing RMA and retaining best practice on a return to office settings.