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A summary of key points from each topic.

Understanding research

Understanding the basics

  • Getting involved in research is a long-term journey
  • It has its own complexity and language
  • There are no right or wrong answers
  • Everyone in academia should have some understanding of research
  • It can be hard to know how to get this understanding

Literature and writing

  • You need to read a lot around your proposed area of research
  • You need to understand how your research fits into the literature
  • Academic writing requires a different approach to that used in business
  • Mastering academic writing can be a big challenge
  • It can be hard to find help with developing your writing style
  • Reading more and reviewing others’ writing can help develop your style

Methods and methodology

  • There can be ongoing challenges with issues such as conceptual frameworks and research questions
  • Some gaps in knowledge may need to be filled if you are to get more involved in research
  • Studying a research methods and methodology module (either standalone or as part of another qualification) can be very helpful

Engaging with others

Enlisting support

  • Building your own support structure is important
  • People in academia can be more helpful than those in the corporate world
  • It is in the interests of more senior academics to help you
  • Finding the right people to work with is important
  • Working with a colleague can help both of you

Having a mentor

  • It’s very helpful to have a mentor
  • The mentor may be from a different faculty
  • You might need different mentors for different aspects of your career and research
  • It’s good to be proactive in seeking a mentor

Talking to colleagues and sharing your work

  • You need to make contacts within the University – so try to go to internal events such as seminars, conferences, master classes, etc.
  • You should try and meet with people going through a similar experience to you
  • It’s good to talk to others about their research, both formally and informally
  • The academic life can be lonely – you need to take steps to avoid this
  • The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to find people with interests in common with yours

Bringing research to practice

Bringing research into teaching

  • Research adds value to your teaching
  • You may be able to incorporate your own research into your lectures
  • It’s good to share with students the value research brings
  • Some lecturers may need support to help them use research to enhance their teaching

Research informing practice

  • Involvement in research will develop your ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise
  • Research that involves reflecting on your own practice will help improve that practice
  • Your own research experience will help you support Masters and Doctoral students better.

Combining teaching and research

  • In academia you have more freedom to manage your own time
  • This gives you more opportunity to pursue what you want to do
  • And there seems to be more opportunity to say no
  • Academia encourages a more open way of thinking about the world

Thinking things through

Understanding the implications for you

  • You need to consider what you want from your career, but be open-minded
  • Developing as a researcher is a career-long activity
  • You should bring your existing skills and strengths to any research involvement
  • Research is not for everyone in academia, but not doing it may affect your credibility
  • Who they recruit and what they expect of academics will depend  on each University

Considering doing a qualification

  • If you don’t work towards studying for a PhD that could be career limiting
  • In theory it might not be, but it probably is in practice
  • Professional Doctorates (EdD, DBA) might be considered as an alternative
  • Other qualifications such as a Masters or, in the UK, Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (often required and provided through an in-house course by UK Universities) could also be of value

Working out your next steps

  • You may want to keep your options open
  • You need to be aware of the limitations and benefits of your current position
  • You need to consider what you want from your career
  • You have some responsibility in finding the time for any research you want to do

How you may be affected

Issues around confidence

  • There can be major confidence issues when accountants move across into academia
  • Involvement in research or achieving a doctorate can help develop confidence and credibility
  • Novice researchers and those without doctorates may find academia stressful  and uncomfortable
  • As researchers develop they may realise their previous lack of confidence was misplaced 

What might be different?

  • Academia has helped interviewees slow down and think longer-term
  • Research outputs can improve by taking time to reflect and revisit them
  • Academia can provide part-time roles that are equivalent in quality
  • There is some concern at the perceived introverted nature of research
  • Research forces you to think more deeply

The perceptions of others

  • The title of Professor is respected
  • Researchers seem to treat other researchers with more respect than they do other academics
  • If you are not doing research, your contribution may not be as fully valued
  • Sometimes you might encounter mutual lack of respect between research-active and teaching-focused staff
  • It would be helpful if this could be addressed

Developing resilience

Coping with feedback

  • One of the hardest things, for all academics, is coping with your research being criticised
  • Some researchers recognise the criticism is not personal but solely about their work
  • Others can find it distressing and difficult
  • It is not always clear how to address or respond to the criticism
  • It is recognised that constructive criticism should lead to a better piece of work
  • The anticipation of criticism may also be an issue

Finding time for research and study

  • The discipline developed through professional accountancy training can help you find the time for your research
  • Research needs to be prioritised and focused on in the way that suits you best
  • Any allocated time allowance should be dedicated to research and your own time may well also be needed – might you be able to buyout time for research or seek a secondment?
  •  The needs of students can derail the best of research intentions
  • Those not currently researching felt they could find some time if research became a priority

Managing your workload

  • You need to be a self-starter and seek to manage your workload and your career
  • The lack of direction in academia can be disconcerting after the discipline of professional practice
  • You should try to do any research at the time it suits you best
  • It is hard to do research if you have a demanding administrative role or a high teaching load

Being proactive

Pursuing your interests

  • To be an effective researcher you need embedded curiosity and a thirst for developing new knowledge
  • Research can provide an ongoing area of challenge
  • To have the best chance of success PhD researchers need to be passionate about their area of research
  • Some aspirations may not be achievable without undertaking further qualifications

Trying things out

  • For many of the interviewees, routes into academia had often been gradual and had involved developing or honing teaching skills
  • You need to be proactive and take advantage of opportunities
  • Undertaking journal article reviews and agreeing to supervise students are ways of gaining additional relevant experience
  • Both career and research plans are likely to change as they progress
  • There will be future opportunities – you don’t have to do everything now

Making the most of available funding

  • Often funds will be available from your University
  • You should try to make use of what is available
  • The funds might cover study fees or conference attendance
  • There might also be external funds you can apply for

Developing your networks

Attending conferences

  • It’s a really good idea to attend conferences
  • Gradually you can find ways to contribute at them
  • The people you meet at conferences can become significant research collaborators
  • Presenting at a conference can be nerve-wracking but is worth the effort
  • The main aim of presenting is to get feedback on your research

Talking about your research

  • Both formal and informal research communities are invaluable
  • It’s good to have external as well as internal networks
  • People in your area of research will be very keen to talk to you
  • You should be aware of your audience and avoid acronyms and jargon
  • Your professional body provides credibility and another potential network

Publishing your research

  • You should target your paper to an appropriate journal
  • It’s helpful if you can work with a more experienced colleague
  • Writing a journal article and getting it published takes quite some time
  • This is another potentially stressful activity where you have to cope with feedback

Making a difference

Finding out something new

  • There is inherent excitement in finding out something new
  • Research is irrelevant if it is not used afterwards
  • Doctoral research findings should aim to make an impact

Contributing to society

  • The potential to contribute to society can be a key motivator for researchers
  • The findings from research can help influence policy
  • It’s good to seek advice on how best to seek to influence policy
  • You can use your academic skills to make a difference in wider contexts
  •  Feedback from practitioners can inform the shape of research

Contributing to the accountancy profession

  • It is really important to have effective links between academia and the accountancy profession
  • The accountancy profession could be a fertile area for research
  • It is good to be able to provide an academic contribution to professional body committees and consultations
Researching Accountant Development Framework

Our Researching Accountant Development Framework (RADF) is an interactive resource to support you to develop as a researcher in academia.

How should you use the RADF?What is the RADF?