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Summary of key points for the Researching Accountant Development Plan (RADF)

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