Summer Vacation Research Competition 2023 - for PS staff

Are you a member of staff in a professional services (PS) role? Are you interested in developing a research project around enhancing the research environment, or addressing the ‘wicked problem’ of career progression for PS staff? Would you like to manage a short-term summer research project related to these themes?

For the first time in its six years, the Summer Vacation Research Competition (SVRC) is piloting two opportunities just for PS staff, adding to the number of openings for an UG student to be involved in high quality and cutting-edge research. You could win funding worth up to £2500 to work with an undergraduate intern for 4-7 weeks who will be paid as a research intern at a living wage. The research projects could include developing an idea you have had, researching an initiative you have put into place, gathering and analysing data, and/or disseminating your findings to a wider audience, whilst offering an opportunity to lead and manage research.

  • One prize will be an open competition with the general theme of enhancing the research environment;
  • The second will have the specific remit of assessing and developing models for progression for staff on PS contracts.

The University is committed to supporting the research environment at Kent, and values the work that its highly skilled PS teams do in this regard.

It is also committed to professional and career development of all its staff, which has led to the Academic Career Map and routes for progression for those on ES&PP, E&R, and R contracts, and becoming a signatory to both the Researcher Development Concordat and the Technician Commitment. The University is keen to explore and develop comparable models to encourage progression and career routes for PS staff.

Reflecting on this exciting opportunity, Dr Jennifer Leigh, the event’s co-founder with Dr Helen Leech, said:

Professional Services staff at Kent do incredible work contributing to the research environment here, and many of them are talented and experienced researchers, despite not having the opportunity to do research in their contracts. This pilot is offering applicants the chance to lead and manage their own research project, either around the general topic of enhancing our research environments, or to address an issue that we know people are passionate about and HR are investigating: to try and find a solution or model to ensure PS staff have the same kinds of opportunities to develop and progress as academic staff.”

The application will be light touch, asking applicants to set out how they would approach and budget for their project and how they would utilise the UG intern’s time and the benefit that they would get from the project. They would have the opportunity to be involved in shortlisting, interviewing, and will then manage the project. Applications can be individual or collaborative and the total fund available is £5000, i.e. £2500 per project. (Please note that alternative competition arrangements exist for PDRAs, RAs and Research Associates.)

Details of how to apply, including the application form, are available via KentNet (Kent staff login required). The closing date for applications is 10 February 2023.

An informal virtual Q&A session about the competition will take place on 12 January, 2023 from 1-2pm and professional services colleagues, as well as PDRAs, RAs and Research Associates, are encouraged to attend. Further details including the Teams meeting link are available via KentNet (Kent staff login required) or please email with any queries in the meantime.

We welcome your application!

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