Research Communications Lead

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 per rata
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
End of advertisement period
Tuesday, 6 July 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time

Department of Anthropology

Grade 7: - £33,797 per rata
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 17.5
Closing Date: 06-Jul-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Job Family: Business Process and People Services

OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, in a unique and historic setting.    

OUR VALUESWe are inspiring, challenging, innovative, responsible and enabling.

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Business, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives. 

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

Family key attributes

Roles in this family provide a comprehensive service and deliver the efficient administration and governance of the University.

Overall family purpose

  • Deliver direct and indirect services to stakeholders.
  • Provide advice and answer queries as part of an enquiry-desk/help-desk function.
  • Respond to and manage requests for information and resources.
  • Deliver services to meet regulatory requirements and procedures. 
  • Plan and deliver a joined-up approach to University business and people services.
  • Align business processes and services to meet operational and strategic policy objectives.  
  • Deliver business processes to ensure effective management, governance and the economic viability of the University. 
  • Encourage, collaborate and participate in the development of productive cross-institution relationships and working.
  • Provide excellent professional services that meet strategic and operational goals and business needs.
  • Carry out monitoring, analysis, development and planning to design new services and service updates for continuous improvement whilst meeting changes in regulations.
  • Engage with specialist professionals, consultants, and suppliers to exchange knowledge and facilitate partnership working.
  • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.
  • Align and deliver programmes and activities to meet operational and strategic objectives to enhance the stakeholder experience.
  • Engage and encourage participation with external professionals, schools, alumni and donors.

Link to key strategic plan

  • An economically sustainable approach to delivering Professional Services across the University;
  • A joined-up approach to University professional services, regardless of location or line management;
  • A culture and practice of continuous improvement; 
  • Design services that meet business need;
  • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
  • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
  • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. 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 the Project 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 0.5 FTE post. However, for prescribed instances (specifically attendance at the 5 applied working group 2-day workshops and the capstone conference) more than 0.5 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.

How to apply 

We prefer to receive applications online. Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

  1. A CV; 
  2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  3. Examples of how you satisfy the person specification. This may require completion of the 'Supporting Evidence' application section if specified by the recruiting manager. Please ensure you give detailed examples of how you meet these criteria if requested.  
  4. Two communications (of any form) you have produced that demonstrate your suitability for the role. Please explain your contribution to each and any relevant background.

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Interviews are likely to be mid-July 2021

Contact details:

For further information please contact: Professor Rachel Kendal at rachel.kendal@durham.ac.uk

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system.  Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. virtual attendance) for sustainability and widening participation

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.