Brain Sciences


Dr Natalie Marchant on creating an inclusive research culture

20 February 2024

Dr Natalie Marchant is an Associate Professor in the Division of Psychiatry and Chair of UCL’s new Research Culture Community Steering Group.

Dr Natalie Marchant

What attracted you to the area of research culture and why is it important?

I'm drawn to research culture because it is the foundation upon which the entire academic community stands. A positive research culture fosters innovation, collaboration, and excellence, while also ensuring that all members of the community feel valued and supported.

As someone with a deep commitment to promoting equity and diversity, I see research culture as a crucial arena where these values can be actively cultivated, leading to more inclusive and impactful research.

Can you tell us about UCL’s new Research Culture Community Steering Group and Research Culture Roadmap?

UCL is working to develop a fair, collaborative and inclusive research environment for everyone working in or supporting research. The 10-year Research Culture Roadmap provides a strategic framework for implementing tangible changes that promote positive research practices, such as cross-disciplinary collaboration, transparent evaluation criteria, and recognition for diverse contributions.

The Research Culture Community Steering Group brings together members of the research community from across UCL to collectively shape the university's research culture agenda and champion key initiatives to ensure broad awareness of changes underway. These efforts are crucial to drive meaningful cultural change and ensure that UCL remains at the forefront of research excellence.

What steps can people take to promote a positive research culture at UCL?

I believe that promoting a positive research culture at UCL requires concerted effort from individuals at all levels of the institution. From my own experience, here are some actionable steps I would suggest:

  • Actively promote collaboration, transparency, and open communication in research practices.
  • Recognise and celebrate diverse contributions to research, including those from research support staff and underrepresented groups.
  • Engage in ongoing dialogue with colleagues to identify and address systemic barriers to inclusion.
  • Support initiatives that prioritise the well-being and professional development of researchers at all career stages, especially those early in their career.
  • Invest in yourself and the people around you by taking advantage of training opportunities and engaging in two-way feedback.

What aspect of your work most excites you and why?

As I have progressed in my career I realise that, in addition to contributing new knowledge to my research field, I am most excited about empowering others to thrive. Whether it's through supervising students, mentoring early career researchers, or leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, it feels fulfilling to contribute to a more equitable and supportive academic community.

What’s the best advice you would give your younger self?

Be compassionate with yourself. If you want to make a positive contribution to the world, you must start by caring for yourself. (I think my current self would still benefit from this advice!)