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Ged Hall, Research Impact Specialist (Episode 19)

    Ged Hall (Episode 19), Research Impact Specialist | Ged wants to shape the future of research impact culture

    Research Adjacent podcast episode 19 Ged Hall Research Impact Specialist

    For episode 19 of Research Adjacent Sarah speaks to Ged Hall. Ged works at the University of Leeds in the Organisational Development and Professional Learning team. He specialises in research impact and impact culture and is one of the hosts of the Research Culture Uncovered podcast.

    (Not) Laser-focused

    Ged has worked at Leeds since 2011 (not counting a cool-sounding laser-based chemistry PhD, also at Leeds). His role includes working with researchers and helping shape research strategy including coaching and development programmes.

    Ged describes himself as something of a magpie so his career has seen him jumping from one shiny opportunity to the next. He began his career working in industrial research and development for British Gas. Over the course of 10 years he tackled many roles, but found he most enjoyed supporting the new recruits through their induction and development programme. To focus on this kind of work full time he moved to a role at the University of Nottingham developing researcher training programmes.

    Another shiny opportunity took him to the careers service at Liverpool Hope University but, finding he preferred being research-adjacent, he took voluntary redundancy and a step down to take up the role at Leeds. Although at the time this new role was framed as enterprise and innovation, it was around the time when ‘impact’ was becoming a thing, so that became the focus.

    Worlds apart

    With significant experience in both academia and industry Ged is well-placed to compare and contrast the two. He found that in industry collaboration and teamwork were more natural, although the workload was higher. Academia, on the other hand is perpetually fixated on individual achievements, noting he is still sometimes defined by his PhD, despite completing it over 25 years ago.

    “I think there’s a bit too much of ‘everything revolves around an individual’. Although we’re not academics, that culture of it being driven by the academic, everything is about the academic CV. What’s on it? I think that permeates all across the culture, in terms of how it operates, even in non-academic roles. And I think that’s a risk.”

    That said, he thinks university research is great value for money compared to industry with a culture of under-spending and over-delivery.

    “Where I worked in an R&D company, we wouldn’t have got out of bed for those kinds of projects. I think there’s a bit of under-cost and over-deliver in research projects. And I think the research councils,
    need to hear that long and loud, especially when they only give us 80% of the full cost anyway. So they are getting an absolute bargain from my perspective.”

    Mind you, it sounds like industry, at least in the 90s, had a much more fun staff induction process which included numerous office parties!

    A vision for the future of research impact culture

    Ged and I crossed paths as he is a fellow podcaster. He is part of the team that creates and presents Research Culture Uncovered. So far the podcast has been organised in seasons which focus on different topics. The current season is on careers. The next season, which Ged is hosting, will focus on the effects of impact agenda on research culture. Airing weekly from 21 June, the first few episodes will be looking at how things are now with examples from around the world. Ged would particularly like your help with the final episode which will air in August. It will be crowdsourced using ideas contributed to this Padlet where people can share their vision for the future of research impact culture. If you’d like to be included please submit your suggestions by 31 July 2023.

    Of course, I asked Ged his vision for the future of research culture. This is what he said;

    “I’ve thought long and hard about this because it is a really tough question. But I think for me it’s about changing the values system that we have. We need our impact support to be more coherent. So it’s more supportive of all people, academics and non-academics who are out there trying to drive policy change or trying to drive cultural change or trying to drive societal improvements in any way. We all need to be supported and feel supported and feel valued.”

    I am certainly on board with that vision, Ged! What about you? What is your vision for the future of research culture? Share your thoughts here

    Find out more

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