In 2015, PraxisUnico (as was) commissioned Research Consulting to conduct research among our members in order to understand better the experiences, workload and professional development needs of staff working in the field of Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC). This was the first time that we had conducted this type of survey (although Unico had conducted salary surveys in the past). That report is available here with the three infographics that summarised the research findings.
Why do we need this type of information from members? For two main reasons: firstly, we have an organisational level membership model which can mean that only one or two people within an organisation are engaged with PraxisAuril on a regular basis (either through events or one of our Committees, for example). We wanted to reach into our member organisations, spread awareness of PraxisAuril and get their feedback on skills and training needs. Secondly, we wanted better information about the day-to-day concerns of our members to inform training and policy responses. The national survey of KE activity in UK universities, HEBCI, collected information on KE staff until 2013 but has since focused on activities only. The sheer number of job roles and responsibilities makes defining KE staff difficult but we see it as a responsibility to assess the size and activities of the workforce that we represent.
This need has become more important in 2017/18 as we increase our advocacy efforts in discussions around the KEF. We commissioned Research Consulting again in 2017 to survey staff working across the full spectrum of KEC, both in universities and other research organisations. The survey differed in one major respect in that it was only conducted online, rather than conducting in-depth phone interviews with organisational representatives. This, perhaps, accounts for a low response rate: although it was not significantly lower than in the first survey we had hoped for a much larger response. This creates a membership engagement priority for us as an organisation. Nonetheless, the information gathered and analysed by Research Consulting is useful and will be used to promote the value of the KE profession to sector stakeholders and to inform PraxisAuril’s work in developing and connecting KE communities.