Research Communications Lead
Durham University
Durham, England
5d ago

The Department and role purpose

The Anthropology Department at Durham University has an outstanding international reputation for teaching, research and student employability.

We are one of the largest Anthropology Departments in the UK, with nearly 40 permanent academic staff working across social, evolutionary and health anthropology.

The Department of Anthropology has a vibrant research culture with many visitors, seminars, global conferences and workshops.

We provide an intellectually inclusive environment, fostering the academic freedom and confidence to work at both the core and boundaries of anthropology in exciting and innovative ways.

  • We were the top-ranked integrated Anthropology department in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014); fifth in the UK for overall GPA (Times Higher Education);
  • first equal for world-leading and internationally-excellent Impact and Research Environment, and second equal for world- leading publications.

    We seek to employ a Research Communications Lead (RCL) to assist Professor Rachel Kendal implement a major funding scheme on behalf of the Cultural Evolution Society (funded by the John Templeton Foundation).

    It will address questions that will transform the important, yet underfunded, field of cultural evolution. How our cultures evolve (including how information is transmitted, how people make decisions, and the interaction with our biology) is a pressing issue in a world in which our cultural activities are causing rapid, and drastic, social and physical changes.

    Through 16 research projects, 5 applied working groups, 5 workshops, 1 landmark conference, 3 capacity building training courses, and public engagement activities, the grant aims to tackle early career obstacles, western-centrism, traditional disciplinary divides, and division of scientists and public policy makers.

    The RCL will be embedded within, and beyond, the University. They will assist with advertising the project to Low and Middle Income Countries, updating the project website (created by a design company), attend all 5 working group workshops (with the PI Rachel Kendal) to tweet, and work with organisers to maximise the reach of events while reducing the carbon footprint virtual attendance initiatives).

  • They will (i) encourage and coach researchers in communication skills (social media, blogging); (ii) assist working groups in writing policy documents, and novel dissemination practices, to maximize impact;
  • and (iii) work with researchers to build a database of stakeholders with whom to engage via email or social media. The position will involve working closely with staff in the Public Policy Hub, the award winning Marketing & Communications Hub, and Institute of Advanced Study (experts in facilitating interdisciplinarity) ensuring they benefit the project by being embedded in Durham University facilities, simultaneously enhancing their career development.

    They will have access to the Durham University’s central website, social media accounts, image gallery, media suite, and useful dissemination networks.

    Core responsibilities :

  • Recognised professional practitioner and service specialist in research communication to various audiences including other researchers, policy makers, and the general public.
  • Implement changes to the design and development of service processes, techniques and deliverables for one or more service strands or project streams.
  • In particular, the Project website, communications regarding Project activities (individual research projects, individual applied working groups, workshops, conferences etc.)

  • Provide specialist expertise and support to the Project involving dealing with and distilling complex data and information sources, interpretation and analysis (with researcher guidance) to produce appropriate communication products infographics, policy papers, blogs etc.
  • and novel dissemination practices.

  • Contribute to development of operational service activities regarding research communications to ensure excellence in the stakeholder (namely the funded candidates for the research projects and working groups) experience.
  • Collect and analyse stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements and the design and planning of research communication services.
  • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to engage and influence diverse potential funding applicants and future engagement with the Cultural Evolution Society and the University reputation.
  • Identify and design activities to meet own learning objectives and overall Project outcomes, such as true engagement of cultural evolutionists with public policy makers and public outreach, including assisting funded applicants in building databases of stakeholders to engage with using social media etc.
  • learning objectives and outcomes.

  • Deliver training, teaching and / or development delivery for stakeholders namely the funded candidates for the research projects and working groups.
  • Maintain an awareness of current policy for University business and Cultural Evolution Society goals such as widening participation and access and environmental sustainability, and provision of advice using specialist knowledge.
  • Contribute to and lead business meetings, working groups and sub-committees at departmental and operational service levels regarding all research communications required.
  • Responsible for managing small budgets for consumables and some capital items, keeping records and processing invoices, in particular regarding any research communication products produced.
  • Role responsibilities :

  • Provide management for stakeholder service areas and / or processes ensuring a high-quality and timely service to all stakeholders, including prospective, and existing funding applicants and staff involved in the Project.
  • Contribute to operational leadership teams and decision making to shape the nature and level of support services in research communication to the funded research projects and applied working groups as well as in ensuring effective advertising of and communication during and after Project events (capacity building courses, applied workshops, conferences, outreach events).
  • Analyse service data and provide reports to Service Heads within the University, such as the Public Policy Hub and Marketing & Communications Hub, making recommendations for improvement as appropriate.
  • Provide proactive and comprehensive input and support to theProject Manager and Prof Rachel Kendal to achieve strategic and operational priorities, including achieving a diverse pool of applicants (geographically and disciplinarily) for the funding competition and enhancing the interaction of cultural evolution with diverse disciplines, policy makers and the understanding of cultural evolution amongst the general public.
  • Distribute service information and provide advice to stakeholders namely funded applicants) regarding compliance and regulations in research communication as appropriate to Durham University and the John Templeton Foundation.
  • Ensure regulations and procedures are updated to take account of internal and external changes.
  • Coordinate and oversee committee working and deal with complaints relevant to research communications.
  • Provide training and / or instruction to stakeholders, especially members of the 5 funded applied working groups in engaging with policy makers and the general public.
  • Awareness of the external environment and sector best practice to support high quality services in research communication, including soliciting information from funded research projects / working groups and producing appropriate website updates and dissemination via social media.
  • Any other reasonable duties including writing public and policy engagement reports for the John Templeton Foundation.
  • Specific role requirements :

    The RCL is a FTE post. However, for prescribed instances (specifically attendance at the 5 applied working group 2-day workshops and the capstone conference) more than FTE may be required within a week, and will be compensated for in other weeks Moreover, attendance at the working group workshops will require travel (potentially international) and staying away from home overnight.

    The RCL will be accompanied (by Prof Rachel Kendal) for all travel required.

    While evening and weekend work is not expected as a matter of principle, it may be unavoidable on these few prescribed occasions and potentially where external communication deadlines dictate.

    Recruiting to this post

    In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below.

    In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.

    Please note that some criteria will only be considered at interview stage.

    Essential Criteria

    Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop excellent working relationships both internally and externally.

    Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office and creation of infographics / websites / visual summaries / podcasts / blogs etc.

    for public outreach. Five GCSE’s at least Grade C or level four (or equivalent) including English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent experience).

    Post-16 qualification (or equivalent experience). Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience). Knowledge and experience of creating products to engage policy makers policy briefs, infographics, visual summaries).

    Desirable criteria Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition. Professional communications practitioner with knowledge and expertise used to contribute to the delivery and development of services, events and activities within the organisation.

    Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines as pertaining to communications.

    Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance regarding communications to a range of customers and colleagues, including more senior colleagues.

    Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of organisations

    Experience of implementing sustained, creative and appropriate communication activities to enhance the reach of a multi-faceted project.

    Experience collating databases of contacts to aid dissemination and achievement of outreach objectives.

    Knowledge or experience regarding using communications technology to enhance the reach of live events virtual attendance) for sustainability and widening participation

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