Research culture survey report 2023 executive summary
We have carried out our first institutional research culture survey.
It closed in November 2022. With a total of 1312 responses, the survey captured the views of colleagues involved in research across the institution.
Broken down by role type, respondents represent
- 36% of all Teaching and Research (T&R) staff at Cardiff University (475 respondents out of 1323 T&R staff)
- 22% of Research (R-only) staff (224 respondents/1004 R-only staff)
- 15% of Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) (365 respondents/2366 PGRs).
While it is not known how many Teaching and Scholarship (T&S) and Professional Services (PS) staff in the university are involved with research, 6% of all T&S staff (65 respondents/1101 T&S staff) and 4% of all PS colleagues (161 respondents/3934 PS staff) responded to the survey.
The 2023 Cardiff University Research Culture Survey data provides a clear sense that we have many practices, policies, and attributes that contribute to a positive research culture. Results are notably positive across areas of collaboration and collegiality, research integrity and ethics, and openness and fairness of research, and they compare favourably against similar survey results from other institutions across the board. At the same time, in line with results at comparator institutions, the survey findings highlight areas in which more work needs to be done, particularly around job security and career development, work-life balance, mental health, and wellbeing.
The creation of a positive research culture presents a national and international challenge across higher education (HE) institutions. Research culture impacts researchers’ work-life balance, wellbeing, career development, and the quality of research.
Alongside a few other HE institutions, we are amongst the first to engage in a survey specifically designed to explore colleagues’ perceptions of their research culture. This is a reflection of our institutional commitment to take genuine ownership of our research culture and invest in its success. However, we recognise that the issues and challenges faced by the research community are the product of many complex factors, including funder and government policies and a research environment established over many decades of institutional practice.
The principal findings of this report will allow Cardiff University to pinpoint areas for improvement and attain a greater understanding of where its resources should be targeted to enhance its research culture.
Collaboration and collegiality
Respondents largely reflect positively on collaboration and collegiality at Cardiff University.
- 88% agree that colleagues share knowledge and expertise when asked.
- 64% believe that their contributions to research at the university are valued by colleagues.
- Only 19% of respondents agree that the university adequately recognises collegiality in its reward and promotion processes.
- Some qualitative responses indicate concerns about the challenges of collaboration across the institution, due to a perceived ‘siloed’ environment.
Freedom to be curious and creative
Respondents largely agree that curiosity and freedom is valued, but quantitative data and some qualitative responses point to time limitations as an important barrier.
- 66% agree that creativity is valued in their research environment.
- Only 36% of respondents believe they have sufficient time to think creatively and develop their ideas.
Job security and career development:
Respondents returned a variety of opinions on their job security and career development at Cardiff University.
- 51% of respondents feel secure in their current position. Many qualitative responses identify the prevalence of fixed-term contracts across the university as negatively impacting on job security.
- While 74% of T&R and T&S respondents feel secure in their positions, this is only true for 20% of R-only respondents.
- Only 49% of respondents agree that they know how to progress their career, and only 31% of respondents are satisfied with their long-term career prospects at Cardiff University.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion
Respondents express positive views on inclusion, but data suggests a need to address a lack of confidence in the university to address discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour.
- 66% of respondents feel they are an included member of the research community at Cardiff University.
- 50% of respondents express confidence in Cardiff University's ability to effectively address any discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour in their research environment.
Research integrity and ethics
Respondents answered very positively throughout the Research Integrity and Ethics theme although some qualitative comments identify certain challenges in this area.
- 80% of respondents agree that Cardiff University takes research integrity seriously.
- 91% agree that they know what constitutes research misconduct.
Openness and fairness of research
Respondents returned largely positive results across the theme, though some showed concern about the university prioritising quantity of research output over research quality.
- 72% of respondents believe that Cardiff University values Open Research practices.
- 27% of respondents agree that quantity of research output is prioritised over research quality in their working environment. Some qualitative responses indicate that recruitment and promotion processes and REF returns place greater importance on the quantity of publications.
Work-life balance, mental health, and wellbeing
While many enjoy working at Cardiff University, fewer respondents express satisfaction with their current work-life balance.
- 76% of respondents indicate that they enjoy working at Cardiff University.
- 46% of respondents express satisfaction with their work-life balance.
- T&R (30%) and T&S staff (31%) report the lowest percentages. R-only staff (52%), Postgraduate Researchers (60%) and Professional Services colleagues (67%) show relatively higher levels of satisfaction.
- Many qualitative comments reflect on the benefits of flexible and home working since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey data, which also includes a broad range of suggestions for enhancing research culture, will now be used to inform the priorities of our research culture action plan.