Our Positive Research Culture

We are strongly committed to creating a positive research culture for our programme. This encompasses generating a sense of community with shared values and mutual support, ensuring that our staff and students can enjoy a fair and supportive work environment that encourages creativity and innovation, achieving the highest possible ethical standards in our work, and striving to increase equality and diversity at all levels.

“We are passionate about increasing equality and diversity at all levels, supervisors, students and staff.”

To build on our sense of community we have an annual 2-day retreat with presentations by our students, a talk by a former CDB student, a keynote lecture from a leader in the field (selected by the students), a careers workshop, and student/supervisor/joint business meetings in which we discuss a range of issues and share best practice.  There is also a joint annual symposium with students from other Oxford Medical Sciences based PhD programmes, providing an opportunity to build wider networks.   We provide funding for student led social events, up to three per year, to further promote cohesiveness and peer support and additionally have established social media (WhatsApp and LinkedIn groups) and of course, this website.

To enhance our work environment we provide students with several support routes in addition to their supervisors. These are a mentorship committee (two independent PIs) who meet with students on a regular basis, graduate advisors (usually senior post-docs from participating labs), and college advisors.  Additionally we strongly encourage peer support as above.  To monitor our performance we have a termly reporting system and an anonymised satisfaction survey, forming the basis for discussion at our annual retreat business meetings.

"Students in our programme do not only get feedback from their supervisors, but also through mentor committees, graduate advisors and our vibrant research community."

Training relating to good research practice and ethics is provided as part of our skills programme.  All of our PIs advocate open access publishing and make widespread use of new initiatives like eLife, Wellcome Open Research and bioRxiv that allow students to get credit for their work in a timely manner.  We wholeheartedly support the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) that advocates that researchers must be assessed based on work they have done, not on proxies for quality such as journal names and Impact Factors.

We are passionate about our goal to increase equality and diversity at all levels, supervisors, students and staff.  We are aligned with specific schemes that promote this aim, notably Athena Swan, UNIQ+ and Nuffield Foundation placements .

student support diagram for positive research culture
Students in action 1