Seven principles to change the UK’s research culture – Times Higher Education (THE)

Recently a number of specific incidents, reports and surveys have shown that bullying and harassment are widespread in the research and innovation culture of the UK. This is unacceptable it damages individual lives, stifles outstanding research and hinders innovation. The need for change has been highlighted numerous times in the past 20 years, but insufficient progress has been made.

Bullying and harassment arise fromseveral factors across the research and innovation landscape, and individuals, institutions and funding organisations must all play a role in bringing consistent and significant cultural change. We believe that strong inclusive leadership is paramount. Senior management are critically important in setting the cultural tone of institutions and funding bodies and should lead by example demonstrating inclusive leadership practices and calling out bullying and harassment when they see it.

To support this, we suggest that institutions and funders should adopt a set of principles that hold individuals and their employers to account. This will help drive a cultural change in research benefiting individuals, making the UK a more attractive place to work, and improving the quality of research. These principles should include:

We believe that adopting these principles will empower individuals to speak up, protect alleged perpetrators against malicious accusations and enable institutions and funders to together develop processes that are fair and transparent. They provide a framework to deliver a cultural change for the research and innovation environment in the UK and start a constructive dialogue for action.

Excellent research is necessary, indeed essential, but no longer sufficient.

Signed in their personal capacity,

Jackie Hunter, former chief executive,Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Ruth McKernan, former chief executive, Innovate UK Sara Rankin,professor of leukocyte and stem cell biology, Imperial College London Ins Barroso, professor of diabetes, University of Exeter Sir Robert Lechler, senior vice-president and provost (health), Kings College London Sir Mike Brady, professor of oncological imaging, University of Oxford Geraint Rees, dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences, UCL Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease, University of Edinburgh Paul Stewart, executive dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds Sarah Teichmann, head of cellular genetics, Wellcome Sanger Institute

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Seven principles to change the UK’s research culture – Times Higher Education (THE)