Research Technical Professionals (RTPs) in the arts and humanities – community consultation

In February 2020 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) became the first funding organisation to sign the Technician Commitment. Also referred to as research technical professionals (RTPs), these highly skilled individuals often fall outside the scope of recognised academic roles, but nonetheless play a crucial part in delivering research output and impacts and developing new methodologies. Examples of RTP roles currently identified by UKRI includes data scientists and engineers, archivists, informaticians, statisticians, software developers, audio-visual technologists and laboratory technicians. The Commitment aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians working in higher education and research, across all disciplines.

As part of UKRI, the Art and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is currently undertaking a series of consultation across the breadth of its research community to better identify and understand the contribution that RTPs make to arts and humanities research. As part of this process, this short survey has been put together to capture the range, scope and diversity of technicians working on arts and humanities research projects.

Analysis of the results will help AHRC to refine and expand the list of examples of RTP roles currently used by UKRI, ensuring that it includes relevant examples of research technical professionals working within the arts and humanities landscape. It will also facilitate better engagement with the arts and humanities technical community, to better understand how they are currently supported and engaged in research, which will in turn feed into UKRI’s wider strategy for implementing the Technician Commitment.

The survey should take no longer than 15–20 minutes to complete and is an important step in helping establish a dialogue between RTPs and the AHRC. As such we would encourage anyone who might describe themselves as a research technical professional – or any academic researchers who have collaborated with RTPs to complete their research – to complete the survey. We would also encourage you to share the link with colleagues who might be interested: the more responses we receive, the greater the opportunity to develop AHRC’s understanding.

Please also let us know if you would be interested in helping us to take the next steps through participating in an interview or a focus group (see Q10).

This survey is going to close on 31 May 2020. Email if you have any questions about the survey.

We are grateful for your time and thoughts.
Skills Team

1. What is your current job title? *


2. Is the organisation you work for: (Choose only one option) *


3. Please briefly describe your current job and how it is linked to the community of arts and humanities research technical professionals (RTPs)? Max. 200 words *


4. Where do you find advice on developing your technical skills or career?


5. As noted in the introduction, the following definition of ‘a technology specialist/research technical professional’ is available on the UKRI website:

“Technology/skills specialists maintain and develop new and improved approaches to implement technologies and methodologies to better address research questions. Technology / skills specialists have specialist knowledge and expertise and they often work as part of co-ordinated teams spanning different disciplines and geographical centres, which work together to tackle contemporary research questions. May include, but not limited to: data scientists, data engineers, archivists, informaticians, statisticians, software developers, audio-visual technologists, technical professional staff and individuals staffing core facilities, across all disciplines” .

In the light of this definition, are there examples of technical roles in the arts and humanities which should be added to the UKRI list quoted above? *


6. Do you identify as a technology specialist/research technical professional in line with this definition? *


7. Do you feel the community of arts & humanities research technical professionals has a distinct identity? *


8. In your opinion and on a scale of 0 to 5, how strong are the four key areas of the Technician Commitment in your organisation/AHRC/UK Research and Innovation?
5 means ‘very strong’ and 0 – ‘not addressed’, please put a number in the grid for each option.

VISIBILITY (i.e. ensure that all technicians within the organisation are identifiable and that the contribution of technicians is visible within and beyond the institution)RECOGNITION (i.e. support technicians to gain recognition through professional registration and external award schemes)CAREER DEVELOPMENT (i.e. enable career progression opportunities for technicians through the provision of clear, documented career pathways)SUSTAINABILITY (i.e. ensure the future sustainability of technical skills across the organisation and that technical expertise is fully utilised)
In my organisation

9. Do you think the arts & humanities research technical professional community faces any challenges? *