Vitae 2015 MindMap

Thoughts on the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference 2015

Another year, another Vitae Researcher Development International Conference… And yet again a great few days getting up to speed with what’s happening in the research sector and meeting with friends and colleagues across the UK, Ireland and around the globe.

Held in The Midland Hotel in Manchester on 8th and 9th September 2015, and using a new-and-improved Vitae app, the main Vitae 2015 Conference conference themes this year were:

  • “policy developments relating to doctoral education and employing researchers
  • building institutional capacity for researchers’ professional development to maintain research excellence
  • demonstrating the value of researcher development on research outputs, researcher careers, economic prosperity and society
  • sustainable practice to support researcher skills, professional and career development.”

For a full outline of the conference please visit:

The Vitae conference is always very collegial with lots of good practice sharing and advice, as well as sharing of what doesn’t work – which sometimes is just as important! This year’s conference was one of the best for a few years – the plenaries and workshops I selected were all very good, with the majority of sessions I attended seeming to focus on research staff development – however there were many more topics for discussion throughout – see the full Vitae 2015 conference programme.

And – as is now “becoming a tradition” according to one of our customers – the official conference dinner was preceded by meeting friends and colleagues for a Fistral drink ; and continued afterwards for those willing and able… This, in addition to all the plenaries, workshops and useful chat during breaks and lunchtimes, is always a highlight of the conference for me! It was lovely as always to be able to catch up with Aberdeen, Bath, Bristol Cork, Edinburgh Napier, Exeter, Heriot-Watt, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester, Nottingham, Strathclyde and Sunderland; and meet staff from Brunel, Cumbria, the Glasgow School of Art, the Irish Research Council, Limerick, Northumbria, and St Andrews – plus a lot more!

Another ‘tradition’ for Vitae over the past few years has been the final of the UK 3 Minute Thesis competition. The 6 finalists presented to a very large and boisterous crowd at dinner, and all presentations were fantasic! Everyone I spoke to with was impressed with all of the presentations. Hearty congratulations go to the winner of both the judges and the people’s prize – Zaid Janjua from the University of Nottingham who presented his research into ice… Vitae has put all of the videos on their website and I’d highly recommend you watch if you weren’t there:

With so many plenary, workshop and special interest sessions it’s always hard to know what to choose and how to summarise, so this year I’ve created a mindmap of the main topics of discussion based on the sessions I participated in – see below. However if you want to read my notes with more detail on the plenary and workshop sessions then click on the links below for Vitae 2015 Plenaries and Vitae 2015 Workshop Sessions.

Vitae 2015 MindMap

Vitae 2015 MindMap

Click here to view a larger PDF version of the MindMap.

Vitae 2015 Plenaries Day 1 & Day 2:

  • Dr Janet Metcalf, (Chair and Head of Vitae)
  • Irmela Brach (Policy Officer, European Research Area – ERA – Policy and Reform Unit, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission)
  • Emilda Rivers (Director of Human Resources Statistics Program (HRS), National Science Foundation, USA)
  • Chris Millward (Director of Policy, Higher Education Funding Council for England – HEFCE)
  • Indi Seerhra (Director of Human Resources, London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • Dr Robin Mellors-Bourne (Acting Chief Executive Officer, CRAC)
  • Professor Ritsert Jansen (Dean of Talent Management, University of Groningen),
  • Dr Miguel Jorge (Lecturer, University of Strathclyde)
  • Professor Tristram Hooley (Professor of Careers Education, Head of ICeGS, University of Derby)
  • Dr Pete Jones (Shire Professional Chartered Psychologists)

Vitae 2015 Workshop Sessions Day 1 & Day 2:

  • A1: Empowering career transitions – approach, tools and challenges
    • Dr Lynne Clark (Researcher Develop/Manager) and John Trantom (Staff Development Adviser)
  • B4: Integrating research and researcher development
    • Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse (Research Development Executive, Coventry University) and Dr Anne Galliot (Research Development Adviser, University of Brighton)
  • C1: Successful models for providing training opportunities to postdoctoral research staff
    • Dr Katie Wheat (Training Resources Development Manager, Vitae) and Dr Emma Compton-Daw (Academic Developer at the University of Strathclyde)
  • D3: Developing research staff: using structured programmes to increase engagement and enhance outcomes
    • Michelle Paterson (Staff Developer for Research Staff) at the University of St Andrews

The conference is always so intense that it takes a number of days to find the headspace to sort-out all the useful info and experience shared. I’ve come away with quite a few ideas and have met a lot of new and old friends that I hope to see again next year. Thank you Vitae and all of the contributors for making it such a good conference!

Posted in News & Newsletter.
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