RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy
Research structure and environment
We believe that our claim for research excellence has been strengthened since RAE96. Our prime concern remains the quality of research outputs rather than the quantity of inputs and we see external funding as a means to that end. Nonetheless, our research income during this assessment period is over £5M, double that in RAE96. The physical infrastructure of the Department reflects an investment of £1.7M by the University over the last three years. FTE staff have increased from 33.5 to 42.2 and we again return 100% of our staff as research active. Research postgraduate numbers are up by 45%. The publications detailed in RA2 and esteem indicators in RA6 reflect the range and quality of our research outputs. We continue to define research agendas and make intellectual progress both within and outside the discipline.
Our aims in RAE96 were to (i) enable colleagues of international research ranking to maintain that position; (ii) enable colleagues developing their research careers to attain levels of international excellence, (iii) maintain and strengthen thereby the standing of all our research groups, and finally (iv) create a new research group in Cultural and Social Geography. The following sections show our achievements for each of the above. Our senior staff at RAE96 (Allison, Amin, Blake, Hudson, Rigg, Roberts B.K., Sadler, Shennan, Simmons, Townsend A.R.) continue to make major contributions to geographical research, as do our recently promoted Readers (Atkins, Evans, Long, Painter, Townsend, J.G.) and Senior Lecturers (Bridgland, Donoghue, Higgitt, Warburton). All our research groups continue to develop through the appointment of new staff of established international standing or with clear potential (Anderson, Bentley, Bull, Burt, Harrison, Holden, Horton, Iveson, Lloyd, MacLeod, Mawdsley, Pain, Petley, Roberts D.H., Rosell-Melé). Other than for retirement, only one full-time permanent lecturer has left our Department for another HEI since RAE96.
Our research groups remain at the core of our activities. All are internationally recognised for their work. Group boundaries are becoming increasingly permeable as we continue to realise the benefits of crosscutting research where it is appropriate. There are three main research group changes to report since RAE96. In appointing Anderson, Harrison, Iveson and Pain, we meet our stated objective of establishing and significantly investing in a new group, Cultural and Social Geography. The skills of Remote Sensing and GIS are now redistributed, since such techniques permeate many areas of our research. We continue to strengthen the four other research groups, through the appointment of new staff and infrastructure developments. In addition to our groups, their affiliated research units (detailed below) benefit from greater collaboration. A summary of each group and their main activities and achievements follows.
Cultural and Social Geography (CSG: 8.1 FTE staff) Established in 1997, the group continues to enjoy the benefits of a period of expansion, with four new appointments in 2000. Its reputation is built upon research at the interface of culture and nature, such as the human creation of landscape and the domestication of animality and savagery, especially under British colonialism (Anderson, Simmons); on the historical and cultural geography of landscape and heritage through the gaze of nationalism and tourism (Crang), and the study of patterns of rural settlement (Roberts, B.K.); in historical and contemporary medical geography, with particular reference to environmental risk derived from air pollution and disease spread in food systems (Atkins, Dunn); on cultural geographies of identity and place (Anderson, Crang, Harrison, Pain); and on the cultural and social geography of life in cities (Crang, Harrison, Iveson, Pain). The group has a leading role in the development of critical theory and qualitative research methodologies.
Anderson, Crang, Dunn and Simmons are on the editorial committees of 14 international geographical journals including Ecumene, Environment and Planning A, Geoforum, International Journal of Social and Cultural Geography, Progress in Human Geography, Time and Society, Transactions in GIS and Urban Geography. In addition to papers cited in RA2, Crang is an editor of two books of research papers (Crang et al. (1999) Virtual Geographies: bodies, spaces, relations; Crang and Thrift (2000) Thinking Space). Research grant sources include: the Australian Research Council to Anderson; English Heritage and the ESRC to Roberts, B.K. (the latter jointly with the Department of History); the Department of Health and the Environment to Dunn; and North Tyneside County Council, Victim Support and the Home Office to Pain. The group has a strong research portfolio, working in Australia, Asia, USA, Canada, as well as throughout northwest Europe.
Research highlights include many invited conference papers: Anderson to the NSF-funded workshop Race and Geography at the University of Kentucky in 1998 and the Culture/Nature/Colonialism series at the University of British Columbia in 1999; Pain as the invited chair to sessions at the British Criminology Conferences in 1997 and 1999; Crang as the invited plenary speaker at the 18th Scandinavian Critical Geography Conference, Denmark 1998, and an invited seminar leader at the Finnish Postgraduate Summer School, University of Oulu 1999. Keynote addresses include: Dunn to a conference on Medical Geography and GIS in Dhaka, Bangladesh 1996; Atkins to the Annual Conference of the British Society for Population Studies 1998, and the Sixth Symposium of the International Commission for Research into European Food History, Finland 1999; and Simmons as the Carl O. Sauer Memorial Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, 1998.
Development Studies (DS: 6.4 FTE staff). DS aims to relate conceptual and methodological advances in development geography to practical action in specific places. Its principal research regions and topics are: the Middle East and boundary issues (Blake); rural development (Harris, Porter); Mexico and gender (Townsend J.G.); Southeast Asia and rural change (Rigg); soils, agriculture and food systems in the Middle East and Africa (Dutton, Harris, Oughton); and gender and household economies in India (Mawdsley and Oughton). Collectively, members' interests intersect in their shared concern for poor(er) people in the poor(er) world and the challenge of how to develop and harness their full potential.
During this review period Blake, Rigg and Townsend, J.G. sat on the editorial panels of six international journals including Gender, Place and Culture, the European Journal of East Asian Studies and Geoforum. Blake is one of three series editors for Kluwer Law International’s prestigious Boundary Studies Series. A major output from the group is the Atlas of Women and Men in India (Atkins and Townsend, J.G.), launched by Clare Short, Minister for International Development, and critically acclaimed: ‘pioneering….a telling product of the statistical and cartographic imaginations’ (The Book Review 1999). Rigg’s book Southeast Asia: the human landscape of modernization and development has excellent reviews: ‘without doubt an invaluable and essential work’ (Journal of Development Studies 1998); ‘should be read by any scholar…seeking to understand...change in Southeast Asia’ (Contemporary Southeast Asia 1999).
Research awards are from a range of sources: DfID to Townsend, J.G.; the EU to Rigg; ESRC to Oughton; the British Academy to Rigg and the Nuffield Foundation to Mawdsley. Development Studies hosts two research units, the International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU) and the Centre for Overseas Research and Development (CORD). Each provides an important mechanism by which theory is linked to practice. CORD grants include: 13 awards from DfID, mainly to Dutton, Harris and Porter; the Higher Council for Science and Technology of Jordan to Dutton; the British Council to Harris; and the Royal Geographical Society to Dutton. Under Blake’s leadership IBRU continues to secure substantial funding, including grants from the US Institute of Peace to open access to the IBRU Boundary Internet Database and support attendance at IBRU training workshops (14 held since RAE96, attracting 240 participants from 65 countries). IBRU continues to organize international conferences (four since RAE96). In addition to dedicated conference volumes, IBRU publishes three briefing series: Boundary and Territory Briefing, Maritime Briefings and Boundary and Security Bulletin.
The quality of the Group’s research is recognized in numerous invitations to speak at a range of meetings: nine invited papers by Blake at international meetings including the Commonwealth Geographical Bureau International Conference 1996, The World Conservation Union 1997, the Second Ford Foundation Workshop USA 1999, the Centre for the Study of Geopolitics India 2000, and the National Marine Data and Information Service China 2000; invited keynote papers by Rigg to the annual meeting of the Nordic Association of Southeast Asian Studies Helsinki 1997, the International Southeast Asian Geography Association Conference Singapore 1998, and the annual meeting of the Danish Association of Development Researchers, Copenhagen 1999; an invited leading address by Dutton at International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas in Syria 1997; invited papers by Mawdsley to the ESRC National Series on Identity Politics in South Asia 2001, the European Conference on Modern Asian Studies Edinburgh 2000 (also co-convenor), and an international colloquium on the State in the Developing World Oslo 2000; invited papers by Townsend, J.G. at Development Studies Association meetings 1997 and 1998, the Society for Latin American Studies 1998, the IGU The Hague 1996, the RGS-IBG 1996, and a British Council funded workshop on NGOs in London 1999.
Earth Surface Systems (ESS: 9.6 FTE staff) Established following an objective set out in RAE92, the group is now a highly productive team with complementary expertise. Interests focus on the dynamics of processes operating at and close to the surface of the Earth, especially the transport of sediment (Allison, Bull, Higgitt, Warburton) and solutes (Burt) on slopes and in rivers; the mechanical and chemical properties and behaviour of earth materials (sediments, soils and rocks) which are fundamental to understanding process / form interactions (Allison, Petley); and the quantitative analysis and modelling of landforms, climatic and hydrological time series (Bull, Burt, Cox, Donoghue, Evans, Goldie). ESS is committed to the use of state-of-the-art field, laboratory and computational methods, funded when appropriate by external sources (e.g. NERC/JREI, Allison jointly with Biological Sciences), and to the analysis of contemporary systems in their historical context. International links are strong. Examples of international and collaborative research include: a study of landslide risk assessment for rural access in Nepal supported by DfID (Petley); involvement in the EU projects WARMICE Sustainable use of upland reservoirs in the UK, Austria and Spain (Higgitt, Warburton) and NICOLAS Nitrogen control by landscape structures (Burt). Other substantial grants include awards from the British National Space Centre and Scottish Fisheries / Scottish Hydro to Donoghue and from NERC to Allison.
Burt is on the editorial advisory board for the Journal of Hydrology and Progress in Physical Geography, while Donoghue and Evans are associate editors of Archaeological Prospection and Transactions of the Japanese Geomorphological Union respectively. Cox is book reviews editor of Earth Surface Processes and Landforms and associate editor of Stata Technical Bulletin. Cox is a regular programmer for the Stata Corporation, USA (see http://www.stata.com). Over 100 of his statistical programs are accessible via the Internet and downloads regularly average 800 per month (see http://www.ideas.uquam.ca). Guest editorships include a special volume of the New Zealand Journal of Hydrology (Warburton) and Proceedings of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Commission II Conference 1998 (Donoghue). Group members regularly organise specialist international symposia in Durham, such as Uplands ’99, and convene research meetings on behalf of organisations such as the British Geomorphological Research Group.
Group members are regularly invited to present papers at international meetings including: a plenary lecture by Allison at the International Association of Engineering Geologists, Athens 1997 and keynote lecture to the British Geomorphological Research Group, Belfast 1998; the keynote lecture by Donoghue to the EU International School of Archaeology Conference on Remote Sensing Italy 1999, and invited lecture at a Workshop on Remote Sensing for Forestry Applications Edinburgh University March 2001; the contributions by Bull to the EU-funded MEDALUS plenary meetings in 1996 and 1999 and as an invited convenor / discussant at the EU COST623 meeting on Linkages Between Hillslopes and Channels Spain 2000. Cox is regularly invited to speak at Stata users’ meetings (Spain 1999, Netherlands 2000) and co-organises and chairs the North American meeting, most recently in Boston March 2001. Presentations by Higgitt include a keynote address at the IAG Symposium on Large Rivers China 1999. Petley presented invited papers at national (e.g. Geologists’ Association 1999) and international (e.g. 3rd Sino-British Geology Conference Taipei 1997) meetings. Other visiting invitations from overseas include the Institute of Soil Science at Nanjing University and East China Normal University to Higgitt; the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado to Warburton; and the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand to Burt.
Political Economies of Geographical Change (PEGC: 9.0 FTE staff) As well as leading the research agenda in established areas of political economic geography such as economic restructuring (Hudson, Sadler, Townsend, A.R.), its members make major contributions to the ‘new’ economic geography (Amin, MacLeod, Painter, Sadler); studies of governance, citizenship and democratisation (Amin, Holden, MacLeod, Painter, Sadler); the economy-environment interface (Hudson, Weaver); research on social exclusion (Amin, Hudson); intellectual debates on the future of cities (Amin, Painter); and the spatialities of globalization (Amin, Hudson, MacLeod, Painter and Sadler). Group members are involved in cross-disciplinary research centres at Durham, particularly the International Centre for Regional Regeneration and Development Studies (ICRRDS), the Director of which (Townsend, A.R.) is funded by an endowment from DETR, which we believe to be unique in UK geography departments. Hudson continues as a member of the Advisory Board of the ESRC’s Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition. Important international links include involvement in European Science Foundation (ESF) programmes and numerous cross-European research centres (such as the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences). Grants include: ESRC to Amin, Hudson (involving collaboration with Cardiff University), Hudson and Sadler (with Sussex University) and Painter (with the Open University and Cambridge University); the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to Hudson; the EU to Amin and Hudson; and the Leverhulme Trust to MacLeod. The Group hosts two major data resource centres, which are important research providers to national and international academic and commercial users: NOMIS (National Online Manpower Information System) and R.CADE (Resource Centre for Access to Data on Europe). They are funded by the Office for National Statistics and by the ESRC and EU respectively. Their continuing success allowed Blakemore to end his secondment (1991-2000) as Executive Director. R.CADE data extraction presently runs at >600 downloads each month from over 400 registered organizations. The NOMIS database indicates 250 000 data requests in 2000 and the downloading of well over 100 million items of information.
Editorships include Painter’s contribution to Area (1996-1999). Sadler and Hudson are founder-editors of European Urban and Regional Studies, MacLeod is book reviews editor; Amin is founder editor of Review of International Political Economy. Amin, Hudson, Painter and Sadler also sit on editorial boards of ten international journals. Weaver is associate editor of Resources, Conservation and Recycling and an editorial board member of Greener Management International.
Group members are active in organising and presenting at national and international conferences. For example: Holden is involved in Economic Geography Research Group meetings (e.g. Coventry 1997); Sadler and Hudson played key roles in European Urban and Regional Studies meetings in Exeter 1996, Durham 1998 and Voss, Norway 2000; Sadler organised a session at AAG2001. Other notable contributions include: Amin’s invited plenary address at the UN conference on industrial policies, Brasilia, 1996; MacLeod as the invited colloquium leader at the International Urban Affairs Conference, Los Angeles, 2000; Sadler’s invited lecture at GERPISA, Paris 1997; Painter’s plenary address at the Habitus Conference, Perth, Australia 2000; Holden’s invited paper at the Wilton Park Conference 2000; Hudson’s invited plenary address at the MEDALUS International Conference on Desertification in the Mediterranean, Crete 1996 and annual Chair of the Conference Lecture, RGS-IBG, Brighton, 2000.
Quaternary Environmental Change (QEC: 9.1 FTE staff) The group has a reputation for theoretical, methodological and applied research relating to Quaternary environmental change. Four appointments since RAE96 add strength to the already established Sea-level Research Unit and build upon existing expertise to integrate terrestrial and marine records of environmental change. QEC now includes expertise in palaeoceanography, ice sheet history in Antarctica and Greenland (Bentley, Long, Lloyd, Roberts, D.H.); the dynamics of ice sheet flow and ice sheet interaction with sea-level change (Bentley, Roberts, D.H. Rosell-Melé); climate change and continental shelf evolution (Lloyd, Rosell-Melé, Bentley); shallow marine and coastal environments (Horton, Lloyd, Long, Roberts, D.H., Shennan, Zong); as well as Quaternary fluvial and vegetation history (Bridgland, Simmons). Linkage across these realms is a major strength, as is the integration of empirical field observations with modelling over a range of spatial and temporal scales. QEC secures considerable research income, including awards from NERC (Shennan, Long and Lloyd, Rosell-Melé), the EU (Rosell-Melé), Leverhulme (Bridgland) and the British Ecological Society (Horton).
Many achievements are interdisciplinary. For example, the group is advancing understanding of crustal motions particularly in the field of validating and developing geophysical models: Shennan in collaboration with the research groups at both ANU and Toronto; Long with reference to the Quaternary history of the Greenland ice sheet with the Danish Polar Centre, Copenhagen University. QEC leads the development and application of microfossil transfer functions for reconstructing high precision records of sea-level change in the UK and abroad (Horton, Lloyd, Zong). Research is also applied. Examples include collaborative projects on earthquake and typhoon hazard in the Pacific Northwest (with the USGS), Alaska (with the Alaskan State Geological Survey) and East Asia (with the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University).
QEC staff play important roles in organising national and international projects, such as the International Geological Correlation Programme (Projects 365, 437 and 449), including both field and scientific meetings, and Quaternary Research Association meetings (Bridgland, Horton, Long, Shennan). Editorial roles include positions with major Quaternary journals such as The Holocene and Journal of Quaternary Science (Shennan) and Quaternary Science Reviews (Bridgland). Shennan and Long’s contributions include an edited special issue of The Holocene and Shennan’s co-edited book Holocene Land-Ocean Interaction and Environmental Change around the North Sea, a key output from the NERC LOIS programme. Group members regularly give invited papers at international meetings. Highlights include: Shennan to the Geosciences Conference Manchester 2000, the Penrose Conference Geological Society of America Oregon, the international meeting of IGCP Project 369 Hawaii 1999, the Alaska Quaternary Research Centre 1999; the European Science Foundation Portugal 1999 and Cork 1997; papers by Long to the British Academy 2001, the Geological Society of London 2000 and the European Science Foundation Portugal 1999, an invited paper by Horton to the Free University of Amsterdam Coastal Geologists 2000; invited contributions by Bentley and Shennan (two of six UK scientists) at the EPILOG workshop on Global ice sheets and sea level during the last glacial maximum Oregon 2000; and invited papers by Rosell-Melé to Géochimie Isotopique et Géochronologie and the Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project Canada 1999. Other invitations from abroad include Lloyd as an invited scholar to Duke University USA 1998 and Rosell-Melé as co-convenor of the European Union of Geosciences symposium New approaches in estimating marine and continental palaeotemperatures for the Cenozoic Strasbourg 1999.
Mechanisms for promoting research and sustaining research culture
We promote and sustain research culture through five sub-committees of the Board of Studies (BoS). These include (with remits): Research Committee (promote research activity through identifying research opportunities, co-ordinating funding applications and providing support to PIs); Research Postgraduate Committee (establish one of the top graduate schools in the country and develop the future generation of academic geographers and professional researchers for other forms of employment); Learning & Teaching Committee (enhance the intellectual base of Masters programmes and an environment that acts as a gateway to PhD research); IT Laboratory & Equipment Committee (develop and maintain infrastructure to underpin research). The Chairs of these sub-committees are members of the fifth, the Department Management Group (DMG), which is convened by the Chairman of the Board of Studies.
The research groups are our main mechanism for promoting research and sustaining research culture. Each has a defined strategy, meets regularly and supports informal seminars by staff, postgraduates and research associates on research in progress. These complement a Department research seminar series (at least one per week during term), public lectures and informal workshops and presentations given by visiting academics from all over the world. Postgraduates are central to the groups, engaging in seminars and also organising meetings of their own, including the RGS-IBG 2000 Postgraduate Conference. Other research meetings convened or organized by members of the Department since RAE96 include 11 nationally and 23 internationally attended events.
We protect research time through regular monitoring of teaching and administrative loads, blocking of staff-student contact time, and planning for a minimum of one research leave term in nine. Staff are associated with a primary research group, but all are affiliated to one or more other groups, reflecting the value placed on cross-disciplinary research. Simmons is the most explicit example, entered under CSG and QEC. Several staff have changed primary group affiliation in this RAE period, reflecting both individual research agendas and departmental strategic decisions. The value that we place on cross-disciplinary research is exemplified by projects on the public understanding of science (Allison / ESS, Crang / CSG), agriculture and soil deterioration in Africa (Higgitt / ESS, Porter / DSG) and environmental hazard and risk (Hudson / PEGC, Atkins / CSG, Dunn / CSG, Petley / ESS).
Research students and research culture
Since RAE96 our postgraduate FTE numbers are up from 32.7 to 47.6 at doctoral level and 32 to 35 on taught Masters programmes. We attract high quality candidates from a range of backgrounds, supported from Research Council, EU, business, University, Department and other sources. We also have a steady stream of visiting postgraduates from the UK and overseas, who spend time with us in the course of their doctoral studies. Three further taught Masters programmes have begun in Geomorphology and Environmental Change (1997); Space, Culture and Politics (2000); and Environment, Culture and Development (2000). These programmes draw upon and help to sustain our research culture. Dissertation topics frequently evolve from ongoing research within the Department, while the programmes form a route to doctoral research. The MA in Urban and Regional Change in Europe is an accredited ESRC research-training course.
Strategic allocations of PhD students ensure activity across research groups and maximize the number of staff involved in doctoral supervision. Two supervisors regularly monitor and assess each PhD student. This includes the preparation of written and oral presentations as well as post-presentation meetings with a wider supervisory panel. A recent (2000) ESRC visiting group was ‘particularly impressed’ with our practices, noting that we ‘provide good specialist training, but also impress upon students the importance of generic training’. Postgraduates belong to the University’s Graduate School which runs an induction and training programme, tailored to specific student needs in the Faculties of Science (physical) and Social Sciences (human). Students are members of a College or Society, which provides important pastoral support. A demonstrable outcome of this supportive culture is that we now have a 100% submission rate of PhD students within the permitted 4-year period and all candidates since RAE96 have been successfully examined.
Since RAE96 the Department Research Office has grown from one to three staff. Additional administrative support for academic staff is provided by a pool of 12 secretaries and 14 technicians, several funded by external grants and contracts. IT provision is based on a rolling three-year strategy and implemented by a Computing Officer, IT Officer and a technician. Our cartographic section provides a fully digital service, following its conversion in 1998.
Major refurbishments (£1.7 million in the last three years) provide the infrastructure to support research group objectives. We now have a state-of-the-art suite of facilities amongst the very best in any UK Geography Department. These include an air-conditioned, airflow controlled clean laboratory for high-precision analytical work using a wide range of equipment such as a laser particle granulometer, AAS, Microwave Digester and Dionex. An environmental and geotechnical laboratory houses a climate chamber, equipment for Cs137 Pb210 and magnetic susceptibility measurement, a fully automated shear box, and two stress path cells, one with dynamic loading and a unique test specimen capability. There is a microfossil preparation suite, as well as a fully equipped 6 m research boat for lake and near-shore projects. Our latest development, established in January 2001, is a new chromatography laboratory.
Relationships with industry, government and other research users
The Department has strong links with industry and the policy community, locally in the north-east region, elsewhere in the UK and overseas. NOMIS, R.CADE, IBRU, CORD, the Environmental Research Centre (ERC) and ICRRDS are good examples of channels through which research in the Department feeds directly into industry, public policy and customised training for a range of public and private sector personnel in the UK and abroad. Advice to government includes Iveson acting as consultant to Australian Capital Territory in developing youth and community plans and Pain’s involvement in national (Home Office) and regional (Edinburgh District Council, North Tyneside Council) initiatives in crime reduction and community safety. Long and Shennan advise MAFF and the EA on flood risk and sea-level change, while Blake advises a range of international organisations, including the Exclusive Economic Zone Trade Mission to the Philippines, and the Foreign Ministers of Peru and Kyrgistan. Long and Shennan advise West Somerset District Council on coastal erosion and shoreline management planning. Allison provides advice to District (e.g. Redcar and Cleveland, West Dorset) and County (e.g. Durham, Dorset) Councils on coastal erosion and cliff stability problems. Amin, Hudson, Sadler and Townsend, A.R. provide advice to a range of organisations dealing with economic development and regeneration issues, including the OECD, DETR, the ONE North East Regional Development Agency and several local authorities (including Easington, Redcar and Stockton). Research links exist with a range of private sector companies including Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick (Petley), Cleveland Potash Ltd. (Allison, Long), W.S. Atkins (Allison), Associated British Ports Ltd. (Long), H. J. Banks (Allison, Amin, Hudson and Long), INRETS French Road and Transport Research and KEMA Dutch Energy Consultants (Weaver), as well as other organisations such as the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (Hudson and Sadler) and the North York Moors National Parks Authority (Amin).
Staffing policy and research support
We continue to grow in line with our strategic plan, considering retirements and new appointments over a rolling five-year period. Our pattern of recent and planned appointments takes into account the approaching retirements of Blake, Roberts, B.K. and Simmons. Expansion is directed either to strengthen existing research specialisms or to invest selectively in new fields. We recruit young researchers of outstanding promise, with the aim of underpinning long-term research objectives and providing the next generation of internationally recognised geographers. In our youngest appointees, most of who are either completing or have just completed their PhD, we seek evidence of research potential of the highest quality rather than a full portfolio of publications. Our aim is to provide a supportive environment where young academics can flourish, with quality not quantity of output emphasized. When appropriate we appoint senior staff who are attracted to and underpin our research culture (Anderson, Burt).
We stressed in RAE96 that the crucial factor in our success is the quality of our staff and our ability to prevent significant out-migration. The same is true today. The provision of career development opportunities remains central to our staffing policy and Departmental stability. New members of staff are supported by a mentor and meet regularly with the Chair of the Board of Studies during their probationary period, in addition to the formal staff appraisal system which runs every two years. New colleagues are given light teaching and administration loads, to enable the maximisation of their research potential at an early stage and rapid assimilation into our research culture. We have a good record of obtaining competitive grants for equipment, projects and travel from the University Research Committee to support new appointees (£145k since RAE96). We provide opportunities to co-supervise PhD students and engage in taught Masters programmes from the outset. All staff benefit from University training opportunities and are encouraged to meet minimum guidelines for career development. The University Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education co-ordinates workshops on supervising research students, making research grant applications, career planning for contract research staff and writing up research for publication. We have a 100% record for staff successfully completing probation.
In the current RAE period we have had 32 RAs / PDRAs employed on externally-funded projects and >20 visiting research fellows funded via a range of organizations including the EU and The Royal Society. Postdoctoral researchers are fully integrated into our activities, presenting seminars, writing papers with other Department staff and helping to co-ordinate conferences and research fieldtrips. Durham is an important stepping-stone to a career in academia. Fifteen former RAs / PDRAs now hold lecturing or research posts, confirming our role in underpinning the future of academic geography and replacement of the intellectual base of the subject.
Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL
Last updated 17 October 2003