Review of the year, 2021

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Research Consulting - 2021 Review

2021 has been another eventful year for the team at Research Consulting, and a challenging one for many of our clients. As we approach the end of the year, we wish our clients and stakeholders a peaceful break and take an opportunity to re-cap on some of the year’s highlights for the team at Research Consulting.

Over 200 projects for clients

Through 2021 we delivered 43 projects for clients, the majority were returning clients, but we’ve added a few new clients through the year as well.

During 2021 Research Consulting delivered the 200th project since the company was founded by Rob Johnson in 2013 – a project for research funders Wellcome, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Either side of this were projects for the publishers Taylor & Francis and Imperial College London. Which nicely exemplifies our core client base: funders, publishers and universities.

COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on research

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on research, wider society and our own work. Following our 2020 review of the impacts of COVID on research on behalf of Springer Nature, in October 2021 we announced the above-mentioned commission for a study for leading research funders Wellcome, UKRI, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, looking at the impact of requirements on rapid and open sharing of research findings.

During the year we’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing research leaders in this area, including representatives from the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Highlights from the year

For researchers and research managers in the UK, the early part of the year was dominated by preparations for submission to the Research Excellence Framework. REF has featured in our own work for clients, including reviews of the lessons learned in the submission preparation phases and as a contribution to the future of research assessment.

March saw one of our busiest ever months, where we delivered 125 interviews across 30 different countries (including the US, Canada, India, Australia, Russia, Vietnam, Japan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Germany). In fact, the only continent where we didn’t engage with researchers was Antarctica (next year perhaps).

We had a few team changes through the year, Sophie Tinley joined as our new Financial Controller in May, we moved offices in June, and following a placement Rosie Black joined us on a permanent basis as a researcher. In October, Lucia Loffreda, who joined in 2018 as a graduate from the University of Nottingham, was promoted to Senior Researcher. Over the years we’ve hosted many placements and interns, and in November we welcomed Ellie Cox, a PhD student at the University of Nottingham on a part time placement supporting literature reviews. We also said goodbye to researcher Victoria Ficarra who moved onto a role in the employability team at Nottingham Trent University.

Over the summer period we also worked with OASPA, the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association, to discuss and analyse the open access market through workshops in July involving over 30 stakeholders. Outcomes of our work were shared widely through an issue brief, workshop report and at the 2021 OASPA conference.

In October, we formally launched our new website, featuring case studies and a page dedicated to our developing partnership with Maverick Publishing Specialists.

November was a busy month as three reports we had worked on were published by Knowledge Exchange (publishing reproducible research), The Physiological Society (the influence of REF on interdisciplinary research) and Midlands Innovation (the role of technical staff in delivering knowledge exchange).

We also started work on a project for UKRI, Cancer Research UK and GuildHE, to explore what indicators of research integrity exist, or could be proposed, that are valid, reliable, ethical and practical, and to open a national and international discussion. The project addresses a growing policy priority and will support the work of the recently-established UK Committee on Research Integrity.

In a nice symmetry 2021 started, and will end, with the team working on projects for the British Council. These have seen us working with and interviewing stakeholders from a range of countries, including UK, Malaysia, and US.

What else have we been working on?

Here’s a run-down of the areas of work we’ve been involved in through 2021, reflecting the breadth and complexity of the research landscape and the breadth of client organisations we work with, including universities, research funders, charities, professional and learned societies, publishers and vendors:

Research Consulting - Word Cloud

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas break and looking forward to working with you in 2022!

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