BEN: Good morning, everybody. Welcome very much to this panel discussion on how we can better reward teamwork. It's the start of a busy day for the festival. I hope you will be able to join us later in the day, too. Here in London, the sunshine is spilling through my living room window. It feels like a day that is going to be good. I'm Ben Bleasdale, part of the team by Wellcome's Reimagine Research Initiative. My pronoun is he/him and for those who may not be able to see me, I'm a white man with a beard, heavy framed glasses, I'm wearing a white shirt and I need the barbers to reopen sooner rather than later. We are here today to talk about creating a better research culture. Wellcome's Reimagine research work explores what needs to happen to build a work culture that is inclusive and honest. We have heard from people around the world that teamwork has been a consistent theme. The same theme has appeared in a recent report this week which looks at culture amongst professional services staff at universities. That said that even in the face of good intentions, the system at present values selfishness. So, today, we are going to be discussing how do we change that.
I'm delighted to be joined by a fantastic panel to discuss that today. And I hope we will be able to leave this event with a renewed sense of how we can work together, with better team work in our workplace. Before I turn to our panellists, housekeeping items. On accessibility, you can activate closed captions via the settings in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. Live captions can be accessed via a link that has been shared in the chat. And I'm delighted to be joined by our BSL interpreters, Peter, on screen now, and later, Russel. You can resize their videos at any point, including during any slide presentations by using a slider that appears when you hover your cursor over the screen.
And finally, how do you take part? Well, I'm here to pose your questions to our panel. So please do submit these via the Q&A function on the right-hand of your screen. Let me know if you would like to direct your question to any panellist. If you are on Twitter or social media, share your thoughts using the hashtag, Reimagine research. I will introduce our panellists one by one who will answer a question I have set each of them. I will invite Philippa Saunders. I would like, Philippa, to answer this question for me: Do you think it is easier to engage in team science today than it was five years ago, thanks?
PHILIPPA: Thank you Ben, and to everybody I hope you can see and hear me. It is wonderful to be part of this event. I'm speaking to you from Edinburgh this morning, where the sun is shining, I'm wearing my favourite red stripey T-shirt. I'm work in the bio-medical centre at the Academy for Medical Sciences. I'm white woman and my pronouns are she/her. In response to Ben's quite challenging question, I think the answer is, yes. Let's be optimistic at this point. So, one of the things that struck me over the last few years, is how the word "team science" has really become embedded much more in conversation. There is scarcely a meeting I go to when I don't hear this term mentioned and particularly I hear it mentioned in terms of giving people contribution and credit for what they are doing. But by way of history, I would like to cast my mind back to 2016 when the Academy of Medical Sciences team, of which I was part, published a report, which I think the link is being shared to you, which was called Team Science. In that, we were very exercised as to whether individuals, working in larger, or even medium teams, were being given really the credit for the contribution they were making. I have to say this was quite a personal issue for me. I have always worked in teams. When I was much younger and a junior scientist, I really felt I did not get the credit for what I was doing. We did a follow-up workshop in 2018. We felt it was something where we needed to keep up the pressure. At that time there was a positive momentum, in terms of publishing, with the credit and orchid systems, giving people a credit to highlight their work, the funders were getting much more exercised about giving people credit for contributing to the greater good by being part of larger teams or leading teams. I would say employers were lagging behind a bit they didn't have their systems behind it. But in the culture, it was we were talking about it more. I felt it was positive. At the Academy we have been doing a lot of work to stack up what we wanted to do in terms of cultural change by launching schemes to sustain women in science, the Flier scheme, which was looking at future leaders and we were exercised by mentoring work, we gave people mentoring and coaching to help them boost their profile.
Where I am quite concerned, though, is that the COVID crisis has made some people less visible in their teams. People are falling behind in terms of being able to network, and I have concerns that we need to revisit this issue and keep up the pressure. And that is why I'm particularly pleased that we have got today's opportunity to discuss this. We have a number of panellists who have got real experience and we have nearly 300 attendees. So, I'm really hopeful that we are going to have a lot of really great questions. I will stop there. I think it is important that we give as much time as we can to conversation. Thank you, Ben.
BEN: Thank you, Philippa. A wonderful start. As you say, I think the team science report really has set the bar for what we should be achieving, and hopefully in this session today, I will turn to Matthew Flinders. And as well as introducing himself I will ask Matt to answer this question for me. How do you think team work varies between disciplines? And how can we learn from them?
MATTHEW: Good morning, everybody, it is a great pleasure to be here talking to you. My name is Matthew Flinders, I'm a Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. My pronouns are he/him. I suppose I would say I'm a slightly large chap, as befit of a former rugby player. And I am wearing my favourite white shirt today for you. In terms of my background, I have just finished serving on the Board of the ESRC, where the issue of research culture, equality, diversity, and inclusion very clearly went up the agenda and received a lot more visibility. The work that the Academy of Medical Science did, it was important in making that happen. I'm also positive. I think it is important not to overstate the progress that has been made. But to look at the opportunities that are coming in the future, to really redefine a new research culture. My question was about: How does team science vary between the disciplines? And, I suppose, I would just respond by saying - I think there is an obvious answer. And there's a slightly more unusual answer. And, so, the obvious answer is - well, team science is work common as an academic endeavour, within the STEM subjects. The existence of labs, workshops, engineering spaces, there is a culture of team science built in, but not to all areas of research. But there is a stronger culture of team science. In the arts, humanities and social sciences, there is far more of a low scholar, traditional model. And in many ways, it was interesting, as a social scientist, reading the Academy of Medical Science's work, because I think the social sciences, arts and humanities have been a little bit behind the curve in keeping up with the shifting landscape, which is heading more towards a team-based approach. A slightly more unconventional answer, a slightly provocative answer is that I actually think the social sciences, arts and humanities have a lot to offer the understanding and doing of team science, because it is those disciplines that study human behaviour, culture, interaction. And what we do know is that sometimes, where team science is done, it's not always done in the most inclusive, fair or open manner. So, maybe - although team science isn't common within this open science, arts and humanities, it is those disciplines that have, as yet, unrealised potential to help shape how we want to redefine and reinvigorate, reimagine team science.
BEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Matt. I think that is a really helpful provocation for us to consider today, lessons that we can draw across and to improve our understanding of how to build those team cultures. I will next move to Dawn Edge and invite Dawn to turn her video on and just before I pose a question to Dawn, I remind the audience, do share any questions that you think of during these talks in the Q&A function. We will be coming to those as soon as we finish these opening remarks. Dawn, it is a delight to have you here, if you would like to introduce yourself and perhaps offer an answer to this question: What do you think teams are losing out on, with the exclusionary environment that they often see in research? Thank you, Dawn.
DAWN: Thank you Ben, hello everyone, I'm Dawn Edge, I am a Professor of Mental Health and inclusivity at the University of Manchester, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the UK geography, we are the north of England. My pronouns are she/her and I am a black woman. I am wearing glasses and I have dreadlocks. I'm wearing a blue and white patterned vest with a black jacket.
What are teams losing out on in an exclusionary environment? Well, both Philippa and Matthew have mentioned team science. I guess that begs the question of who is in the team? With that, also, is the use of power and accountability and people's ability to contribute. I think one of the biggest things we are missing out on is just the diversity of ideas. And the opportunities to come up with really different solutions. Both from having researchers from different backgrounds but importantly for me as a health research, including the people who are actually the recipients of care and the people who deliver care, so service users and patients, carers and to a certain extent, also frontline staff whose voices are all rarely prominent in the research creation and design and delivery. So, the focus of the work that I do is almost exclusively on co-production. I work on co-producing social interventions. And we do that with people, rather than for them. But that requires quite a shift in thinking. So, you know, making sure that community members, people with lived experience, are involved in identifying the topics of research interests, being able to contribute through the research define, the research management. And also, the evaluation and that also means that we need to think about capacity-building. Because there is little point bringing people in as service users, carers, community members, research teams, without equipping them to be research partners and importantly moving them along the journey from being kind of contributors, to what is euphemistically called PPI, or PPP, patient public involvement, and moving them on to potentially developing research careers, if that is part of what we want to do. And so, when we are going to bring people in, I think it is important to think about the environments into which we bring people, to what extent are we creating inclusive, research environments, which will enable diversity to flourish? And just a final thought, is to remember, you know, if you continue to do what we have always done, so if our notion of team science is to reproduce what we do now that actually makes sure people get more credit, which is great, but if we continue to do what we have always done, we will get what we have always had. Time for change. Thank you.
BEN: Thank you, Dawn, I think there is a lot for us to take away there.
And I was taken by the connection with the talk we had yesterday from Robyn Stewart from Heart & Soul about thinking about your point who is in the team, who counts as a researcher, how can we connect with the populations we are there to serve. For those of you who maybe missed yesterday's recording, I would highly recommend going back and catching up on that as well. Wonderful. Well following Dawn, I would like to turn to Jeroen Geurts joining us from the Netherlands. We are delighted to have you with us. The question I have for you: How can we better reward team work in research, over to you.
JEROEN: Thank you very much. I think I have a few slides. If they could be started that will be great. In the meantime, I will introduce myself. I'm Jeroen Geurts, I'm a Professor of Neuroscience. The President of the Dutch health funder ZonMw and a member of the NWO. I will give a perspective on better to reward team working research. My pronouns are his, him and he. I'm wearing a blue jacket and I'm a white male and I'm sitting in front of a bookcase that I really love. All right. So, how can we better reward team work in research? If we go to the first slide. Team science, I think in the Netherlands is part of the new movement, in 2019, there was a joint statement of universities, university medical centres and research institutes and research funders who focussed more on quality instead of quantity, to promote open science and to reward less individualism and more team effort.
Universities are now talking about how to build and maintain teams. They talk about team roles, researchers versus support staff, etc. And funders are focussing on a consortium building and interdisciplinarity. The funding instruments at NWO and ZonMw now have a greater emphasis on team science and on cross-disciplinary collaboration already.
We have a national research agenda in the Netherlands which is all about building teams. So, the Dutch Government invested significantly in 2018 and following this investment about 12,000 individual questions were collected from science and society that led to 25 routes, neuroscience routes or the origin of life route or something like that and NWO/ZonMw asked them to build strong, multidisciplinary and lasting teams. They can come to us funders for different projects of about 500,000 to 10 million. They have to include interdisciplinary consortia and relevant social partners. Societal partners, I should say, who also come up with 10% of co-financing. An example of one of those successfully granted consortia, was on cognitive rehabilitation in multiple sclerosis. It included neurologist, rehab physicians, psychologists, health and safety officers, fitness instructors, pharmaceutical companies and the patient forum; showing a wide range of collaboration.
Another thing that we are working on is to kind of innovate our Dutch Nobel Prize. It is the highest award in science. It is called the Spinoza and Stevin Prize as of 2020, teams of scientists are eligible, alongside individuals. You have to be, if you go for a team award, then you have to have a demonstrably greater effect than individual achievements. That I think is immediately also the issue. Apart from the fact that it took us 20 years or more to move from individualised awards to more team-guided awards, it also has to be defended now that you have to, that you want to go for a team award. That is, I think something that should be much more normal. So, we are still struggling a little bit with this.
Next slide, please.
We also have a team science award which is given to small teams that can get 10,000 euros for working together and jointly taking on scientific challenge in which their individual strengths and expertise reinforce each other. So, we kind of want to make examples out of teams and then give them an award to stimulate other teams. Next slide, please.
And, the fact thing that we are thinking about now, as funders, is to encourage the use of credit, which is a system that describes 14 contributor roles by, for example, conceptualisation or data curation or project administration and we really hope that lab technicians and engineers and research assistants, who normally stand a little bit in the shadow of their PIs, are now empowered to also show what their contribution to the team has been. Next slide, please.
But there is still a way to go. There is a am inform things that we've set up, as funders, but we still have a way to go, individualistic science has been strongly encouraged in the past decade and I think funders then and researcher [distortion of sound]...
BEN: I think we might have lost you there Jeroen.
I think we might have a bad connection. We can maybe come back to those points if he is able to re-join in the next few moments. If we can take the slides down for the moment, perfect. Thank you. As I say, we will hopefully get connected back in the near future but in the meantime, I'm delighted to hand over to our final speaker in the line-up, who will lead us into the Q&A, Heidi. Heidi if you are happy to introduce yourself and perhaps you can offer some thoughts on the following question, which is: In your role as the leader of a major research centre, where do you draw your energy and support from? Thank you.
HEIDI: Thank you. I'm Heidi Johansen-Berg. I'm the Director of the Welcome Centre for Neuroimaging at the University of Oxford. I use she/her pronouns. I'm a white woman with long brown hair and glasses, wearing a grey jumper. In the role of leading a research centre, where do you draw energy and support from? I primarily draw energy and support for the people I work with. I'm lucky to be surrounded by fantastic colleagues, virtually now, at all levels. Being a research leader, whether it is leading your own research group or a whole institute, can be isolating. I think there probably is some truth in the cliche that it is lonely at the top. As a leader, it is not possible to keep everybody happy all the time or be everybody's friend. People may seem to treat you differently, they may see you as their boss rather than peer, it can feel isolating, and strange when you come through a career and take on this different role. I'm therefore very thankful to have many supporters, senior colleagues, across my university and further afield as well as supportive mentors that I have accumulated and hung on to throughout my career. I do reach out to these people for advice from time to time, still. I think it is really important that people continue to feel able to do that, as they gain seniority. They don't see it as a weakness to ask for support for advice from others. And we tend to think as leaders as having all the answers, we really don't have all of the answers and we need to listen and seek advice, just as much as we need to direct others and take decisions.
And going back to the things that provide me with energy or buzz in my work, I think that is really evolve over the time. As an early career researcher, you tend to get that buzz from your own direct research successes and designing a beautifully elegant experiment or getting some key piece of data. these things obviously do continue to be exciting and motivating in my own group's research practice, but I also, personally, increasingly gain energy or buzz from facilitating others, from connecting people and projects together. So that they can then go off and do great things. And in this way, I tend to see the role of the research leader, a bit like a curator, at an exhibition, gaining energy from putting together a portfolio of people and projects, rather than having to be the creator of those individual pieces of work. And an important thing to bear in mind, thinking about what the other speakers have spoken about, is being able to take on this role, really relies on a system that rewards collective successes and not just individual successes. And then finally, I draw huge support from the appreciation of others, feedback from others. We all want feedback on how we are doing from when we are kids, throughout life we all want to feel appreciated. That doesn't go away when you get more senior. Research can be a really tough job when it comes to feedback. We all get a lot of negative feedback, failed experiments, grant rejections and failures. And when there is positive feedback, a grant being accepted, or a project accepted, it can be sporadic. So, to feel positive about your job, you need day-to-day wins and successes. As a leader you get feedback on what peel don't like and much less about what people do like. Don't get me wrong, I think negative feedback and constructive criticism sin credibly valuable, something we should all actively seek out and learn from but we should also keep in mind that research leaders, just like everybody else, also need some positive reinforcement and we should remember to appreciate our colleagues day-to-day. I can hand back to Ben.
BEN: I think that description as being a curator, it is a really nice one to think about and I think it is a really helpful way to look at it.
Jeroen, I think you have joined us; do you have any closing comments to wrap up?
JEROEN: I got kicked out I think at the last slide. I wanted to say that we have come along way, in the sense that we have done a lot of new things, in terms of team science but there is also still some way to go as individualistic science has been encouraged for decades. So, that was my closing remark.
BEN: Perfect one to lead us into Q&A and I'm pleased to say that Q&A and chat is already full of questions. So, I will try to feed these through to you as quickly as I can. I have had really interesting remarks, and people are appreciating the things you have been sharing today. I thought this would be a really interesting one to start us off, it is a personal perspective and I thought perhaps I could come to Dawn first to answer it. So, the person has written: I have significant disabilities that have been getting worse, I don't feel I can be a PI any more in clinical research, too much brain fog, too often but how can the role be redefined to allow me to participate and get credit for what I can do? Dawn, I wonder if you have any thoughts to share on that question?
DAWN: First of all, to thank the questioner for - I shouldn't have to say it is a courageous thing to say. But it still is. I think really the focus on team science would mean that somebody, in this position, should be able to be, for example, a co-PI. So, all the skills, knowledge and expertise that that person has, shouldn't be lost because they have, you know, they have a disability of some kind. I think working together with somebody else as a co-PI is an excellent way of, or chief investigator or whatever the term is, so you jointly lead something, so your intellectual contribution is still very much being acknowledged, and reflected in whatever reward system, but at the same time, it is taking into consideration that there will be times when you may not be able to contribute as much, but whatever work you are doing still needs clear leadership and it is very obvious within the team who that other person is. I think we need to be more creative about how we can truly enable people to participate.
BEN: Thank you. I wonder if any of our other panellists want to chip in on that?
HEIDI: Maybe just a brief comment: It also brings to mind other groups who might not see a full-time, full-on research career as being right for them, for whatever reason, with caring responsibilities, for example. I think we need really need to do more to be accepting of multiple different models. We tend to think being a scientist is an all-encompassing thing, to be a proper scientist, you need to be thinking about science day and night. Personally, I think we need to move away from that model and recognise people can make valuable contributions and compartmentalise bits of their time and life that are incredibly useful and it is more to do with the quality of the contribution, rather than necessarily the number of hours somebody can devote to it. Having more flexibility in general in science careers would be very valuable.
BEN: Matt next and then Philippa?
MATT: It is a really interesting question, I have been pushing Research Councils on, at the moment as far as I'm aware you can only have one single Principal Investigators, and moving to a model where you have a team of more than one would create a whole new raft of leadership opportunities which dove-tail with some of the issues that Heidi was raising about bringing on future talent. I think that issue on talent is really key here. We seem to define "talent" narrowly in academia. Actually, we need to be far more creative in seeing that different people bring different talents to the table, and the sense of good science is bringing that team together.
BEN: Thank you. Philippa?
PHILIPPA: Yes, absolutely. I just want to say that this issue of being able to have co-PIs, which I see as a hot topic in the chat, is one we raised originally at the Academy with the funders when we did the Science Report. We looked at some of the other ways that people can lead things in a more, you know, holistic way and some examples of work packages and EU grants(?) but I absolutely agree with all the previous speakers, that this sort of narrow focus on you are only going to be excellent if you live, breathe and give up your life to science is completely wrong. And one of the things that we have really learned over the last year is - we must be much more flexible and adaptable to people's individual needs. Just colleagues who have had to home-school have not been able to go in and do the work they might have done. But what is the cost? It has shown we can do a lot more remotely; we can do a lot more in short bursts, we can do things - we can accommodate people's physical needs and we can accommodate much more flexible working. And this is what we need to get out of this crisis, it is a much more flexible approach. I'm sure we all agree with that. That is the point of a team, everyone has something they can contribute. It might be quite small but it might be quite big but it should adapt with the needs of the work.
BEN: Thank you, Philippa, Jeroen. I will come to you next and there is a link to another question which feels like it links to this one I will pose to you as well; specifically, how to funders adapt to funding beyond just an individual approach, and the consequences that that could have? I feel that links nicely about appreciating a broader contribution. It would be great to hear what you think.
JEROEN: I think funders have an obligation to look beyond the model that we have been adopting for a number of decades now. And I have tried to give a few examples of what could be done, in terms of trying to promote team prizes, or to show that the highest awards in the country can also be awarded to a team. But what I find is that it still is very much common, the common thing to do is to look for individual greatness. Who has come up with this idea? Who has found the solution to this problem? Instead of looking for an entire team. Or looking for individuals who have the genius idea. And thinking about the previous Q&A, the previous question in the Q&A, one of the PIs in my own research team has Lupus and over the years he has steadily decreased, in terms of his bodily and also mental function. And we have been trying to have a discussion within the group how and if we can kind of shift tasks, such that he can do what he is good at, which is making computer programmes and coming up with great ideas for IT solutions, instead of having him present to let's say money-givers, and writing papers, etc, which is much more difficult for him. So, we've tried to work around his issues, his problems by discussing it, openly, within the team. And actually, I think that is going very well. So, it is very well possible to give somebody who has disability a role within the team that is, you know, that is fit for him or her.
BEN: Thank you Jeroen. I think from what you are saying, it feels like you can adapt to that, rather than expecting individuals to conform within the system that exists.
BEN: Wonderful. Well let's move to another question. I actually want to pose one to you all to think about and I will pose a more specific one to Matt in the meantime, to give you time to think about it. A really good question here following on from Heidi's point saying - researchers often gauge their success and job satisfaction based on research outcomes, which are at times kind of, you know, hard to have control over and can be a bit difficult to gauge on. And the person has asked: What sort of measures of success and satisfaction would we like researchers to be taking pride from and to be drawing energy from? I wonder if you could all have a think about what you would suggest in your environment that you personally find motivating and you find sustains you through the challenges of the job. In the meantime, to give you time to think about that, I thought I would come to Matt specifically with a question that follow on from his contribution? Matt, someone has asked: Exactly what sort of way could we facilitate better exchange of good practice and models of team science between disciplines? Does it exist at an institutional level? What in your mind does that look like, if you could have a forum to share those ideas?
MATT: OK, so if you think about what facilitates world-class research that is scholarly brilliant but has clear social relevance, that research generally comes from facilitating mobility. The mobility of people, ideas and talent across traditional disciplinary organisational and professional boundaries. What we have at the moment is a very rigid bureaucratic cumbersome beast. I would say it is (sound dip) incentivised to prevent mobility happening. We all understand interdisciplinary work is very hard to make happen within an institution; it gets even harder when it is a research grant that spans institutions.
And there is a bit of an elephant in the room here, we are talking very nicely about the ideals. And it is great that we have a panel member from the Netherlands. Now, the Netherlands has a very different political culture. That political culture, dare I say, is slightly more mature, slightly more consensual, slightly more inclusive. In the UK, we have to be aware that our institutions have been set up in a competitive relationship, where often team science works against the incentives of institutions to compete with each other. At a big level, I think it is that challenge of how do we really facilitate meaningful team science when, at the same time, we are all expected to compete against each other?
BEN: Thanks, Matt. I would be interested, Jeroen, from your perspective, how does that collaborative mindset work in the Netherlands and from your perspective, how does the UK see that difference play out?
JEROEN: I think I do recognise that a little bit in the Netherlands. We are a small country, so we kind of travel the distance, literally, in between institutions. There is absolutely competition in the Netherlands as well and too much competition to my taste. But we do have this, this joint position paper that came out in 2019 where funders and research-performing organisations and hospitals and the Royal Academy all stated that they wanted to work together towards more team-oriented science. That is, I think, that has been a good move for our young scientists who really felt that they couldn't function in a hyper-competitive world any more. So, they've really thanked us for this, for this move. So, I would say that is - and it is also something that in the European Commission we are now talking about whether or not this collaborative statement-making is something that should be done more broadly.
BEN: Thanks, Jeroen. I think those international perspectives are going to be really helpful. I think the fact that the culture in with lots of different phraseologies and forms is being discussed across the world, I think is a really helpful development. Back to my earlier question about where do we want researchers to be taking their measures of success and satisfaction from? I wonder if you have had time to percolate on any interesting thoughts from your own perspective? Perhaps I could come to you, first, Philippa. I know the Academy has the Fliers programme, which involves people at their early-career stages. I wonder what in that programme you are looking to instil in the mindsets of early career researchers?
PHILIPPA: Thank you. I think this follow on interestingly from the previous conversation. You know, some of what we need to do is invest in people, much more broadly. And enable them to gain skills broadly. I think that is going to empower them going forward. So, certainly at the Academy we have recognised that there is a huge issue in terms of broadening people's perspectives, so that they are able to make good contributions and feel pride in what they can achieve. So, I think there is a couple of things. I always get quite nervous that mobility, because that imply that is people need to physically move, I think that disadvantages people, particularly women at certain stages in their life course.
At the Academy we have been thinking about partnerships, about empowering people and giving them experience across different disciplines because we think this is really going to help them in their team activities. And also give them satisfaction in their working lives. So, we have built academic research partnerships, in a flexible way to encourage mobility between clinicians and others and our Fliers scheme is really proving very successful. In this scheme we have asked people to put themselves forward and commit some time where they can work with individuals from other disciplines. And there is an element of responsibility. So, we wanted to show, to expose people in maybe an academic narrow life, to those working in industry, or in the NHS. And the biggest thing that has come out of this is the peer/peer interactions. These people have so enjoyed meeting people from other disciplines. My hope is that as we move forward in the future, that we as leaders can do what we can to encourage things, we can lobby the funders and do other things but it is the people coming up behind us who will really benefit from a more flexible approach. That is what we are trying to mentor and empower and give a voice to those people behind us. As a personal note, the greatest satisfaction I get in my working life is encouraging younger people to realise their full potential. This is sometimes to encourage them to leave the field and go elsewhere, but equally it is also to encourage them to put their names forward, challenge themselves and move on. And take any opportunity they can. And just to echo what Dawn said, the absolute thing is meeting patients. This really empowers me.
BEN: Thank you, it is wonderful to hear more about the Fliers programme. For those who received the e-mail for the festival this morning, there is a link in there if you want to learn more. Check that out. We will come back to Jeroen and then Dawn.
JEROEN: I really agree with Philippa, in that young people should be leading in improvements that we are making towards team science. I think they cannot but do that, because they feel they are growing up in a world that is not fitting to them anymore. Our newer generation of researchers, at least in the Netherlands, we really see that it is much more focussed on collaboration and on interdisciplinarity than the previous generations, so they feel they cannot perform and show their identity as a researcher. So, I think it is very important that we let them speak and tell us what they need.
BEN: Thank you. Dawn as well?
DAWN: I think I follow on with from that and Philippa's point in enabling people to grow. So, I have to be, a moment of confession, to say I have a little bit of difficulty with kind of coaching and mentoring model, not because I don't think they are good things because I think they are. The concern I have is that too often they have reinforced the notion that the problem lies within the individual. And if we just fix this person by, you know, giving them a bit of coaching or putting them on this programme, then that is going to actually sort things out. But we need to acknowledge, I think that is what we are doing at this festival, which is fantastic, is that we are talking about systems-wide problems, things that are deeply embedded within structures. A very personal example. When I first applied to go to lecture and senior lectureship and didn't succeed at my first attempt and was devastated and asked for feedback and I watched the person giving the feedback squirm for half an hour, without being able to actually tell me why I hadn't been successful. You know the criteria that was there, I matched it but they couldn't actual will he tell me what accounted for my lack of success. So, you know, being me, I got other people to sit down with me and look at my CV. The first thing she said was, you need to get rid of all those "we". There is too much "we" in what you have written, you need it talk about I, and what you have done and what you brought. Unless we change the cultures and systems and systems of reward, then there is going to be always be the difficulty for those of us who feel we want to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate things but the system only actually rewards individual effort.
BEN: It is a really important point for everyone to take away. Yes, as you say, Wellcome is hosting this event today, not to tick a box to say we hosted this event because we want to hear what needs to change and to make sure, as a finder, we can live up to that and play our role in fostering those changes. Because, as you say, if the individuals are left to navigate what is a very difficult system, I think it takes a huge toll. We want to make sure as a funder, we can contribute as much as possible in a positive way to culture. Jeroen, you will come back to you.
JEROEN: I was just thinking about, while listening to Dawn. Is it in anyway conceivable that, within the, in the UK, for example, led by Wellcome there would be a discussion and a, let's say a positioning around newer team science-like ideas, that can unite researchers and funders and academies? Just like we did in the Netherlands? Would that be conceivable in the UK as well? It was really helpful. It really helped us in the Netherlands to go forward together.
BEN: I think it is an excellent question. Actually, we have got a new culture strategy due from the government in the next couple of months which we hope we will offer some of that coordination. And it'll help galvanise public funding in the UK to really embrace some of these things. I think there is so much power in the biggest funding pots in the UK. The UKRI are by far the largest; the fact that they are already talking about culture in a very different way now, than they were a couple of years ago, I think really demonstrates that there is a willingness to change some big things, which is really exciting.
BEN: I am aware we only have ten minutes left. I will try to get through a couple of questions and make the most of our remaining time. I will come, perhaps to Heidi with this question, which is about, the person has asked, "Where do we stop with team as a description, does it only account for researchers or what about the professional staff who contribute to research in other ways?" I think in your role in leading an institution, you must have a great appreciation for all the people had make research happen, I wonder if you can give us thoughts on who counts as the team.
HEIDI: It is a fantastic question, something we think about. We are very lucky as a Welcome Centre, we are lucky to be able to support a phenomenal core team of research, it might be technical or administrative, various different types of people who are underpinning the research but are not individual scientists on a PI trajectory. It is something we think a lot about, precisely because so many of our success metrics or reward mechanisms are purely focus on that PI, individual science model. So, we need to, we massively value that core team, but we need to sort of create the mechanisms by which they can develop and feel appreciated. So, you know, outside of the system. Because the system doesn't really cater to progression of people, and we need to explore ways in which we can provide things like training. High-level professional training to recognise that there is career development and individual development within those non-PI-type roles. But I think having more support or structure from both universities and funders, to recognise how people, these phenomenally valuable individuals can progress through a career, in a more recognised way, would be incredibly useful. We have looked at things there are day-to-day things we can have control over, celebrating successes that are within our control to do with achievement in terms of operation of facilities and doing things well and delivering projects, those things can all be celebrated in a sort of local, bottom-up way and we can recognise different types of contributions that people can have made, so we can try to improve our day-to-day culture to value all members of the team. But I completely agree with the point others have made about ultimately, we need them top-down as well, there needs to be ways in which career structures, etc, can provide a framework for people to progress outside of that PI model.
BEN: Thank you, Heidi. I think it is really helpful for us all to consider and even through Wellcome's work on gathering evidence on the research culture, we were mindful to try to include the broadest interpretation of who counts in that group, otherwise it immediately excludes people's perspective. I have taken, back on the days when we were allowed on the road, in physical events in the Town Hall in the north-east, and in that room we had a collection of different people from different backgrounds talking about culture and at the end someone put their hand up and said, "I'm a member of the professional services staff at a local university and this is actually the first time anyone has ever asked me what my working environment is like and how I would like to improve it." Giving people a voice and making sure we take those voices seriously will be key to getting this right and getting it to stick in the future." Dawn I wondered if I could come to you in a question someone has put in the Q&A here, specifically asking what changes you have seen work in making environments work for people of different backgrounds and what changes, big or small, have you seen had an impact?
DAWN: I think, I'm very much a glass half full person, I'm hopeful. I would like to say we are a work progress. We are seeing more every day and because I work in health service research, the biggest shift has been the greater involvement of service user researchers. Particularly in the mental health field. I think the more we can look at those kinds of models, where we know, going back to the earlier point about, who is in the team, and who do we really need to be in the team, because I think, for a long time with health services research, we have developed all kinds of interventions, you know, things like psycho-social interventions, they don't get implemented and nobody uses them. Maybe if we start by asking people about what they want, how to make those things more accessible, so we get them involved in the design, but also, importantly in the development and delivery of and evaluation. You can very often take things back then and do that bit because it is a real science. So, it is a mindset. I think it is shifting our thinking, but there are definitely people who are doing more and more of this work and it is to be encouraged, think.
BEN: Thank you, Dawn. Just perhaps we can do one final question before we begin to wrap up the session. Perhaps I can pose this one to Jeroen to start with. It is around publications and the publishing industry, in research. And you mention the CRediT taxonomy and I know Philippa has mentioned it as well.
I would like to know - is credit enough in terms of offering that from the supply side? What changes perhaps to publishers need to make in order for people to contribute valuable contributions?
JEROEN: It is an interesting question. I don't think it is enough. Credit gives us some opportunity to discuss roles within teams. And to make explicit different roles. So, for people who are very much fundamental to the research, but are not often credited or don't often appear in the spotlight, but I also think that, for example, funders, and we are working on this actively, should instruct their committees to discuss in interviews with researchers about their team is like and why they have built their team as they did. And whether there are any improvements they can make in their team. So much more about team science and about the building of the consortium, rather than about, let's say the basic rear is idea or the role of the individual PI. And we're making that shift towards having more - let's say in more act of consciousness of the team roles and the building of the teams but it is something that we really should invest further in, as funders, absolutely.
BEN: Thank you. Philippa, I wondered, is there anything that the Academy would like to see done on this front?
PHILIPPA: I would completely agree with Jeroen. I think what credit did and what that report did, was it started the conversation. I think it has fallen a bit by the wayside, and people have bent the system, as people will always do. I think we need a much more open discussion about team leadership. This is one of the things that came through in the team science report, very strongly. That how a team works and how people respect each other's contributions can be very much influenced by the person who is seen as the leader of that team and their attitude towards inclusivity, in terms of co-leading or otherwise. I think there is a lot more we need to do to look at structures of teams. We need to have a much more open conversation about people's credibility as leaders. I know, in my own career I have had to work with people who have abused that power and balance and have also not given me credit for my work. I don't think leaders are born. I don't think just because you are a great scientist it makes you a great leader. I think there is a real role for actual professional leadership training at an early age. I really do feel that. I see it coming through the system.
BEN: Definitely Philippa. Certainly our research as well has shown that, you know, the division of management and leadership takes time and energy and expertise and it needs to be valued and supported in the system. So, I think that is a helpful note for us to finish on. We have a couple of minutes left. I think it has been a wonderful discussion. I have really enjoyed it. I have learned a lot. Made lots of notes. I'm really keen we get one last bit of insight from each of you before I let you go. And I wondered, you know, in place of a closing remark, I would like to pose one final question to each of you. Perhaps you could operate in a sentence or two, with a brief reply but I wanted to know from each of you in turn, what action you would personally like to take away from this session? What have you heard you would like to see put into action in the wider system and that could really improve the way team work is supported? And I will go in reverse order than we started in. So, I will come to Heidi first, if I may.
HEIDI: I think one concrete thing, I saw a few interesting comments on the chat, people pointing to universities that had good practice in terms of career structures for technical staff, for example. So, personally that is something that I'm going to follow up on and a domain where I might have to have some influence. So, I will look at that carefully. Thank you for the suggestion.
JEROEN: I feel enormously reinforced by this discussion. And I really want to make a big compliment to Wellcome for organising this discussion around team science and I'm going back to the Netherlands with an extra impetus to work on those committees who are going to interview people and who are really at the fire, so to say, of getting team science realised. I'm going to invest in those teams even more. Thanks.
BEN: That is really helpful. I will steal Heidi's phrase and say that we will be curators at Wellcome but it is wonderful to see the community coming together to share our thoughts. Next, I will come to Dawn?
DAWN: So, I'm going to, I have a role at the university as an academic lead for equality, diversity and inclusion and I'm work to work with others that make sure we explore some of this and the way we inform our HR processes. Thinking about what comes into people's PDR. What incentives are there for leaders to demonstrably be bringing people on and other opportunities for people in their career pathways to talk about what are the barriers, you know in a meaningful way and then to overcome them. Working more with HR, I think, to change the system.
BEN: Thank you, Dawn. And Matt, I will come to you next? dawn
MATT: I think it would be fantastic to take this this idea from the Netherlands about a really big national statement about team science, to build momentum. And to think about how that might be published and promoted in order to put it at the heart of the planned review of REF that is coming up in 2022. I think that is the opportunity that will open that we could play a positive role in helping to push in the right direction.
BEN: Thanks, Matt. And that process is coming to a close now. Philippa, we will come to you, as well, for your final word.
PHILIPPA: Thank you Wellcome for really keeping our feet to the fire on this topic. I think it is very, very interesting. Particularly I'm invigorated by all the discussion and the chat. I'm going to go back to the Academy. It is just a few years since our review of the science report, now is the moment to look at what progress has been made and what holes there are and what we as an influencing group can bring to bear on policy makers, funders and publishers and employers. So, thanks again for the opportunity.
BEN: Wonderful. That brings us to a close. Just to say thank you everybody who made this session possible. Not least our panellists today who have been wonderful. Our audience as well. Thank you for joining us and as ever, this has been a team endeavour at Wellcome and I'm just here representing them. Thank you to all the people in the team that made it. I hope the session has left you with good ideas to think about and act upon and a reminder we have two remaining sessions or you can catch up with them online. Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.
In this live workshop at our Reimagine Research Culture Festival, panellists explored ways of incentivising a culture shift that supports teamwork in research.
- Chair: Ben Bleasdale, Wellcome
- Dawn Edge, University of Manchester
- Heidi Johansen-Berg, University of Oxford
- Jeroen Geurts, Dutch Research Council (NWO)
- Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield
- Philippa Saunders, Academy of Medical Sciences.