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Research careers

Career management, developmental needs analysis, and leadership are essential in pursuing a research career. By clearly being able to identify, articulate and evidence the broad range of behaviours, skills and attributes that underpin excellent, effective and inclusive research, you will be able to take control of your own professional development, as well as support the development of your doctoral researchers, peers, colleagues, and teams.

To support your career progression and the development of research leadership skills, we offer a range of training and development activities and fora, as well as a suite of online tools, resources, and guidance.

Research career management

The researcher development framework was developed by researchers for researchers and maps out the skills, attributes and behaviours required of an effective researcher.

Everyone's research career is different, so one career pathway might require you to focus and develop one area more than another. While ethics is essential for all, policy engagement might be particular to your area of work. It is important to remember that people rarely have identical career paths.

To learn more about the framework and to support you in identifying your developmental needs, Vitae has developed an online tool to get you started.

Reading list
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council. 2012. Career Paths of AHRC funded PhD Students. DTZ: London. Available at:
  • Delamont, Sara, and Atkinson, Paul. 2004. Successful Research Careers. Maidenhead: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
  • Elvidge, Liz, Williams, Emma, and Spencely, Carol. 2017. What Every Postdoc Needs to Know. New Jersey: World Scientific.
  • Fenby-Hulse, Kieran, Heywood, Emma, Walker, Kate. 2019. Research Impact and the Early Career Researcher: Lived Experience, New Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Jaegar, Audrey J. and Dinin, Alessandra J. (eds). 2018. The Postdoc Landscape: The Invisible Scholars.2018. London: Elsevier.
  • Lyall, Catherine, Bruce, Ann, Tait, Joyce, and Meagher, Laura. 2015. Interdisciplinary Research Journeys: Practical Strategies for Capturing Creativity. London: Bloomsbury Academic. In particular: Charting a Course for an Interdisciplinary Career, 103-136.
  • Murgua, Annalisa, and Poggio, Barbara. 2019. Gender and Precarious Research Careers. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Vitae. 2016. What do research staff do next? Cambridge: Careers Research Advisory Centre

Research leadership

Intellectual and research leadership isn't just for senior research managers and Professors. Leadership is important at every stage of a research career and is a skill best developed and honed over time. Research leadership training and development is embedded across the RIS training and development programme.

Reading list
  • Evans, Linda. 2014. 'What is effective research leadership? A research-informed perspective'. Higher Education Research & Development. 33(1): 46-58. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2013.864617
  • Flinders, Matthew and Anderson, Alexandra. 2019. Fit for the Future? Researcher Development and Research Leadership in the Social Sciences: Evidence review. Swindon: Economic and Social Research Council. Available at:
  • Macfarlane, Bruce. 2011. 'Professors as intellectual leaders: formation, identity and role'. Studies in Higher Education. 36(1): 57-73. DOI: 10.1080/03075070903443734
  • Macfarlane, Bruce. 2012. Intellectual Leadership in Higher Education. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Rayner, Steve, Fuller, Mary, McEwen, Lindsey, and Roberts, Hazel. 2010. 'Managing Leadership in the UK University: a case for researching the missing professoriate?'. Studies in Higher Education. 35(6): 617-631. DOI: 10.1080/03075070903243100
  • Tight, Malcolm. 2002. 'What does it mean to be a professor?'. Higher Education Review. 34: 15-31.

Research mentoring

At Teesside University we define mentoring as a relationship facilitated and developed through a series of one-to-one meetings to support a mentee's professional development. Researchers at Teesside can receive mentoring on any element of Vitae's researcher development framework.

Research mentors and mentees receive training and development as well as ongoing support during the mentoring relationship. If you would like to be matched with a mentor or if you are interested in becoming a mentor yourself, please complete the application on the Learning and Development Portal.

Finding an external mentor

Sometimes it may be more appropriate to find a mentor outside of the University. This might be because you are looking to develop a particular skill or gain some technical insight into a specialist area. It may also be because you have identified a role model who you would like to learn from, or because you need an outsider perspective on your development.

External mentoring relationships rely on networking and building trust. Before you contact your prospective mentor, there are some things you may need to consider first:

  1. Mentoring isn't about solely about extracting information, it's about initiating a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship. Think about what you can bring to a mentoring relationship.
  2. Mentoring requires mentees to work hard. To benefit from a mentoring relationship, you need to first try to articulate what you want to achieve.
  3. Consider what you expect from mentor and whether these expectations are realistic. Determine a specific timeframe for the mentoring relationship, this will support both of you in terms of focus and time allocation.
  4. Think deeply about who would be best placed to support you. Choosing the right mentor is key.
  5. Think carefully about how to approach the mentor. Do you already know them? Would approaching them at an event be better than an email? Would it better to chat virtually a few times before deciding on establishing a mentoring relationship?
  6. Importantly, do not worry if the answer is no. People are busy and have other priorities and commitments; it isn't any reflection on you. Mentoring takes time and effort on both sides, so remember that this is a considerable request.

Fora, events, and learning communities

Early career researcher forum

Early career researchers (ECRs) are an essential part of Teesside University's research environment. The Early career researcher forum provides a platform for ECRs to share best practice and feed into discussions on research development at Teesside. It is open to all ECRs, who are defined broadly as:

  • contract research staff
  • staff within the first five years of an academic contract
  • mid-career lecturers who are new to research.

The forum is open to all researchers, and reports directly to the Research and Innovation Committee. The terms of reference can be located here.

The forum seeks to:

  • receive and review feedback and suggestions from Early Career Researchers (ECRs)
  • provide consideration on matters related to ECRs to the Research and Innovation Committee when requested
  • support the continued professional development of ECRs through training and events
  • keep under review arrangements in respect of ECR provision and support across the University, advising the HR Excellence Working Group and/or Research and Innovation Committee when necessary
  • keep under review national developments in respect of ECR training, development and support to inform and enhance the ECR experience across the University.

The forum takes place four times each year; the dates are listed on our events calendar.

If you are interested in developing your own community of practice, some of the resources listed may be of interest:

Researcher development programme

Teesside University provides a suite of developmental programmes for researchers at all stages of their career. All our activities support the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and are aligned to Vitae's Researcher Development Framework. Visit our Research and Innovation Training page to find out more and to book.

Research and Innovation Training

Contact details

Contact us for further information

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