Historians and Archivists in conversation, Twitter chat: Thursday 9 July at 2pm (BST)

History UK and The National Archives have teamed up to co-host a Twitter chat that asks how historians and archivists can work together in a COVID landscape. We invite members of the History and Archives communities to join the discussion.

You will find more details of the conversation and the questions we’ll be asking in the poster attached here.

Poster for HUK and TNA twitter chat

We will be releasing the questions on Thursday 9th July at 2pm so if you have something to say or something you’d like to find out, why not join us.  We’re hoping this will be a great opportunity to talk to academic colleagues about the challenges and how we can work together to survive and thrive!

Details of the questions can also be found at: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/training-and-events/

or check into the HEAP web page: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/networks-and-collaboration/the-higher-education-archive-programme/

2020 Academic Job Boot Camp 

UPDATE – 2nd April 2020 – Please note that the academic boot camp has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation – we hope to run the event again in 2021, so please do check back for further news. 

Academic Job Boot Camp – Saturday 2nd May 2020 at Brunel University London. 

History UK is pleased to be running the Academic Job Boot Camp again this year, following its success in previous years. All early career historians are encouraged to apply, with preference being given to those who have already completed their PhDs. 

  • Are you starting to think about applying for your first lectureship in history? 
  • Submitting applications and never hearing back? 

The Academic Job Boot Camp is a free half-day event for early career historians sponsored by History UK and supported by History Lab. It will help you to structure your academic CV, hone your cover letter, rehearse your job presentation and undergo a mock interview, as well as demystifying some of the processes around academic recruitment. The experience, feedback and advice you receive at the event is designed to improve your chances the next time you apply for an academic job. 

How will the boot camp work? You will take part in a simulation of all stages of the job application process up to and including being interviewed as a shortlisted candidate. You will be interviewed by experienced academics drawn from universities nationwide. You will also deliver job presentations to other early career historians. 

You will receive feedback on your interview and presentation. You will have the opportunity to observe how others fare. The event will end with a roundtable, after which there will be drinks and a dinner(*) at a nearby pub and restaurant. 

You can read posts about the job boot camps in previous years, here, here, here and here. 

Itinerary (all locations at Brunel University London, exact rooms TBC): 

1-1.30: Lunch and Welcome. 

Please arrive at this event at 1pm. Please notify Simon Peplow if you have any dietary requirements. 

1.30-3.45: Presentation or Job Interviews.  

During the afternoon you will be asked to participate in four activities: 

  1. a 30-minute interview; you will be informed of the exact time of your interview on the day. 
  1. observing a 30minute interview; the time of this will also be made clear to you on the day. 
  1. give a 5minute presentation, followed by 3-4 minutes of questions; led by an experienced academic in front of other early career historians who will provide written feedback. 
  1. listen to presentations from other attendees, ask questions and provide written feedback. 

3.45-4.00: Coffee and Tea Break. 

4.00-5.00: Dr Sara Wolfson to lead a session on ‘Top Ten Tips for Securing an Academic Job’. 

5.00-7.30: Networking and dinner (*please note that participants will have to cover the costs of their own dinner). 

This event is free and sponsored by History UK and History Lab Plus. 

To participate, you will need to apply for an imaginary lectureship in a real history programme. Please read the job advert for the Imaginary Lectureship in History here and look at the further particulars for the job http://bit.ly/2o696yy, then submit a letter of application and CV to Sue Davison (Sue.Davison@sas.ac.uk). 

Questions should be directed to Simon Peplow (Simon.Peplow@Warwick.ac.uk). 

We have a limited number of travel bursaries that you will be able to apply for. We will cover part or full costs of travel. Please indicate whether you will be applying for a travel bursary, as well as the approximate cost of advance tickets, in your email applying for the job. We reserve the right to pay full or partial costs, depending on demand. 

The deadline for your application is noon on Friday 3rd April and applicants will be contacted by the following week to let them know if they have been successful. 

History UK Research Impact Workshop 2019

Dr Neil Fleming, Principal Lecturer at the University of Worcester, has provided the following post on our last annual research event on impact, which was held at the IHR in September 2019.


What is research impact? The rapidly changing environment in UK higher education means that it is a question few of us can ignore. ‘Research impact’ has been around since the long lead up to REF2014. Yet, it is evident that many researchers, established and new, remain uncertain about what it means in practice. At the same time, there is increasing importance attached to research impact in academic appointments, job appraisals, and university rankings and league tables.

To shed some light on the matter, History UK organised a workshop at the Institute of Historical Research, held on 4 September 2019. Expert scholars, reflecting all career stages, including several former REF panellists, were invited to reflect on research impact:

  • Dr Chiara Beccalossi (Lincoln)
  • Professor Dinah Birch CBE (Liverpool)
  • Professor Nick Crowson (Birmingham)
  • Professor Anne Curry (Southampton)
  • Dr J.D. Hill (British Museum)
  • Dr Charlotte Wildman (Manchester).

Their various and wide-ranging contributions and responses to questions are summarised below.

 

What is Research Impact? 

At its broadest, research impact is about the public benefit created by historians. More precisely, it is when research does something for someone else. It must be a distinctive and material contribution, though it can be indirect and non-linear as long as there is a connection. It needs to make a difference and to support this with appropriate evidence. Indeed, REF panellists prefer the idea of ‘making a difference’ to the simplistic idea of measuring ‘impact’.

The best source of advice is the REF2021 website’s criteria for Impact Cast Studies, along with the high-scoring case studies submitted to REF2014.

For understandable reasons, it is incorrectly assumed by some that research impact can be demonstrated through giving public talks and media presentations. First, it is the impact of research that matters and not necessarily the presence of an academic in some activity. Second, such activities on their own do not amount to research impact. They can, however, become ‘routes to establishing research impact’ if it is possible to calculate and supply evidence of the difference made.

 

Evidence

To measure research impact it is important to capture evidence. This needs to happen at the outset, so that data can be compared before and after.

The need for evidence can cause problems. Providing evidence for research impact on government policy is very hard to demonstrate. The same applies to the general public. This explains why viable and successful impact case studies tend to involve working with organisations.

Working with organisations still presents potential difficulties. There is the need to make participants aware that researchers will be collecting data on research impact. This may require building up a relationship over time. Hesitancy or even opposition are possible reactions, especially if there is already wariness about academic researchers getting involved in the work of non-academic groups.

The need to initiate and develop relationships with external groups and organisations means that preparing impact case studies for the REF that follows REF2021 should begin now.

 

Rising Expectations

The introduction of research impact in REF2014 meant that some leeway was then given to impact case studies. The expectation in REF2021 is that examples of best practice now exist on the REF2014 website, and so Unit of Assessment (UoA) panels will be tougher when it comes to the standards of measuring and assessing research impact in REF2021.

There is the additional factor of public policy. Scholars in the Arts and Humanities are under ever increasing pressure to demonstrate the public worth of their research. REF2014 provided an opportunity to do so, and so can REF2021.

 

Tips for Finding Case Studies

  • Local branch of Heritage Lottery Fund useful for information on available community projects
  • Utilising ‘citizenship’ teaching can help to engage local primary schools
  • Working with youth groups more straightforward as school curriculum and teachers too busy
  • Write a teacher guide to teaching an understudied subject
  • Stimulate the public to do their own research, especially groups that would not be otherwise reached
  • More permissive scope in REF201 for research impact in HE. However, avoid focusing on only one institution as this would not demonstrate the reach and significance necessary to obtain high scores

 

Impact Cast Studies: Things to Avoid 

  • Impact case studies should be interesting: avoid repetition, provide a strong narrative, and do not let an administrator write it!
  • Concentrate less on the pathway and more on the impact made, e.g., is reaching 2,000 children a lot, given normal and typical activities?
  • Avoid relying on the production of websites with lots of information: focus on the impact of the research
  • UoA panel members only have time to look at what is in front of them so avoid relying on inserted weblinks

 

Impact Case Studies: Top Tips

  • Would the group you claim has benefitted be able to understand what you have written?
  • Send case studies for informal feedback to appropriate ‘users’, i.e., colleagues in the community, cultural, museum sectors, etc.
  • All references in case studies do not need to be to 2* publications – as long as the research itself is at least 2* quality
  • UoA panel does not assess quality of the research after it meets the 2* threshold, it assesses the quality of the research impact
  • Research funding does not matter as long as the research that underlies the case study meets the 2* threshold
  • UoA panel tends not to read outputs associated with case studies unless there is a particular reason to do so
  • Avoid testimonials based on purely personal relationships; these should supply substantial and tangible evidence of impact on them/their organisation
  • Those giving testimonials may require guidance on what is supportive
  • Testimonials demonstrating research impact in a public debate should appear in the main body (and using footnotes) through selective quotations from media etc. (making clear that there is a fuller body of evidence that can be referred to)
  • Continued case studies from previous REF are eligible providing that they meet the criteria
  • Do not worry about any overlap with the ‘KEF’ as it is still in development

Neil Fleming (University of Worcester) is a former Research Officer (2017-19) and Steering Committee Member (2015-19), History UK.

History UK in 2018

This post outlines some of the activities of History UK in 2018 and is based on a message that was sent out to subscribing institutions. We thought that it might be of broader interest!

History UK is the independent national body promoting and monitoring History in UK Higher Education. It is funded by history departments or their equivalents and campaigns on issues of concern to academic historians and the broader history community, particularly in the following areas:

  • The profile of history in higher education and beyond
  • The state of the profession, particularly the recruitment and career development of undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and staff
  • Research culture, including the research resources available to historians and the impact of the REF
  • Teaching and learning within the discipline, especially the impact of the NSS and TEF
  • Audit culture, to ensure that the demands of external audit and quality measurement are appropriate to the discipline and light in touch.

For example, some of the events that we have organised in the last year include:

  • our Plenary and AGM in November on The Future of the Humanities, which brought together Professor Stefan Collini (Cambridge) and Dr Karen Salt (Nottingham), as well as a round table of younger scholars – Sara Barker (Leeds), James Baker (Sussex) and Sihong Lin (Manchester);
  • in May, one of our co-convenors, Jamie Wood, hosted an event at the University of Lincoln with the British Library Labs, to explore the use of the BL’s digital collections in teaching and research;
  • in May, we also ran our third academic job bootcamp, in which both early career historians and PhD students participatedand which helped at least one attendee secure a job;
  • in May, we supported a workshop for school and university teachers onTransitioning in History from School to Universityat Leeds Beckett University;
  • in September, our education officer, Peter D’Sena, ran the third New to Teaching Workshop(co-funded by the Royal Historical Society), exploring themes including digital history, lecturing, small group teaching, curriculum design and career development;
  • in September, our research officer, Neil Fleming, together with our co-convener, Lucie Matthews-Jones, organised a Research Grant Workshopwith input from the AHRC and the British Academy, as well as a range of speakers who have held grants.

July also saw the culmination of a year-long partnership with The National Archives on collaborative working between the higher education and archive sectors. This resulted in the publication of a guide to collaborationand a workshopat the TNA. In 2019 we are continuing our close working relationship with the TNA and are co-sponsoring a series of workshops(at the IHR, Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, Colchester and Birmingham – sign up here) that further explore (and seek to develop) partnerships between higher education, especially History, and archives, whether in teaching, research or other kinds of activity.

We have also continued to develop close working ties with a number of organisations. For example, we have run combined events with the Royal Historical Society, History Lab and History Lab Plus, and HUK representatives attend meetings and speak at events of these bodies. Through our education officer, and other steering committee members, we have close links with the HEA and Historical Association. We are also members of the Arts and Humanities Alliance.

We hope this goes some way to demonstrating what your support of History UK enables us to do. The coming year promises to be just as exciting as last. Our twitter feed (@history_uk) and website (https://www.history-uk.ac.uk)both publicise our  events, but also act as a forum for members to feedback and even blog on their experiences of our events or on other important HE issues.

Ultimately we work for our members, and you have a say through your representative on the steering committee, or (if you do not currently have a representative) by directly contacting the co-convenors, Dr. Lucie Matthews-Jones (L.M.Matthews-Jones@ljmu.ac.uk) or Dr. Jamie Wood (jwood@lincoln.ac.uk).

Perspectives on the New to Teaching workshop 2018

Below we collect some perspectives from participants in the New to Teach event that was held at the IHR in September 2018. Sponsored by the Royal Historical Society, HUK provided travel funding to enable participants from outside London to attend. We share some of their thoughts below.

Amy King (Bristol)

With the start of my new job looming (thanks in no small part to the Academic Job Boot Camp earlier this year!), I was delighted to sign up for the New To Teaching training held in September. The day started with an introduction to writing new courses, including an overview of the principles of backwards design and some practical exercises to get us started. Needless to say, I feel much less daunted by the prospect of writing two new modules this year thanks the session! We were also given a taste of how to use digital humanities to improve the student experience, shown some exciting examples of the use of social media in the classroom, and given some top tips and tricks for delivering lectures and seminars. Thank you to History UK for another brilliant, practical training day; I look forward to putting what we learned into practice in the new academic year.

 

Marc Collinson (Bangor)

Although I have taught seminars for four years, being offered the opportunity to convene a module for the first time had proved daunting. Likewise, my simultaneous entering the Job market after just shy of four years enrolled on a PhD forced me to reassess my employment situation – was I fully equipped? Was I prepared? The session was enlightening in helping me to consider the fundamentals of lecturing, seminar leading and course design – revisiting these in a friendly environment was fruitful and encouraging. This session helped me ignore some of the pettier concerns I had and prepare to rethink what I could do differently, it also made me more confident for an interview for a post-doc I had the following week. At time of writing, I had not heard back, but I felt more prepared for the interview, and comfortable with the line of questioning. I would thoroughly recommend others attend this event in future. Even if you think you are a good tutor, it is important to be able to reflect and reassess. That is, after all, a cornerstone of the teaching in higher education.

 

Liz Brooker (Leicester)

Having done a PGCE in Secondary History, I thought I would attend this course to update my practice now that I am teaching in Higher Education. I thought the course was very well structured and it covered lots of different teaching styles such as small group teaching and lecturing. I found these sessions useful and have tried to implement some of the strategies in my own teaching. The careers development session at the end of the day was very informative. It was especially nice to hear the thoughts and experiences of the other academics in attendance.

 

Thomas Davies (Bangor)

The History UK New to Teaching event was a thoroughly enjoyable day, raising some interesting points and encouraging thought on how to structure lessons, how to engage students and ensure they obtain as much as possible from lectures and seminars, providing a forum for discussion with peers and with an opportunity also to discuss with individuals experienced in teaching techniques. I have managed to incorporate some of the ideas in semester of teaching – together this has helped in my professional development and made me keen to continue teaching in the future!