UCL Research


Increasing the impact of early career researchers at the IOE

The IOE has provided tailored training to 25 high-potential ECRs to embed engagement and impact good practice, expand networks and provide them with evidence for promotion.


6 December 2023

Led by the IOE - Faculty of Education and Society Pro-Director and Vice-Dean Research, Professor Lynn Ang and the IOE Research Development team, the Fellowship is cultivating a change in research culture to empower researchers at every stage of their career. 

The project was conceived in 2020 with the support and collaboration of the IOE Research Engagement and Impact Committee and the IOE Research Development Team and co-created with the early career researcher (ECR) community. 

After a rigorous selection process, six early career researchers began a five-month long researcher development programme. Across five intensive tailored workshops they received training from senior academics and experts in policy, co-production, and communications. 

Participants also benefited from dedicated individual development coaching with one-to-one support provided by the IOE Research Development team. By the end of the programme, Impact Fellows were expected to have applied their workshop learnings to undertake a proposed engagement and impact activity for the benefit of the wider community.  

They showcased their outputs in a public event, producing evidence of a successful professional development activity to accelerate their career development, meeting some of the requirements of UCL’s Academic Career Framework. 

Expanding to meet the needs of researchers 

This first cohort were quick to take forward their new skills and experience as they progressed in their careers, with four of the initial six Impact Fellows successfully applying for promotion or finding permanent research roles within six months of completion of the pilot. 

With the help of research culture funding, the IOE team was able to expand the programme to meet demand. In the programme’s second year, 11 IOE Impact Fellowships were awarded, with the call expanded to doctoral candidates. 

This support has continued into the third year, with funding from the Research Culture Programme allowing the IOE to creatively increase the scope of the fellowship programme. In addition to the Fellowships, all IOE researchers were invited to training workshops; over 50 attended, including mid-career and senior researchers. 

Results and next steps 

As IOE Research Development Manager Tatiana Souteiro Dias explains, the benefits of all this work have still yet to be fully realised. 

“It is still early days...one thing about impact is that sometimes it is not immediate. There’s excellent work happening, not just at UCL but in partnership with NGOs, with schools, the NHS – we have been able to bring these together.  

“We have seen some fantastic examples of activities benefiting children and young people, improving the NHS, helping to integrate migrant workers, helping bring climate and ecology bills to parliament.” 

Tatiana shared the good news that an initial evaluation of the achievements of the previous cohort has shown that five of the 11 Impact Fellows in 2022 have successfully applied for promotion reaching Associate Professor status, or found research roles at IOE or elsewhere within three months of completion of the programme, with several crediting the fellowship for a boost in their confidence and skills. 

Full details of the current and previous IOE Impact Fellows and their outputs and achievements can be found on the IOE’s website

In addition to preparing the project for its fourth cohort, the Fellowship is exploring the possibility of previous participants mentoring current participants, as well as reverse mentorships, where participants can coach senior academics looking to embed impact development strategies in their research. Early career researchers will be involved in every step of the planning process.  

Reflecting on the Fellowship’s successes, Professor Ang commented, “At the heart of our work is a priority to nurture a positive research culture in which all staff and students feel truly supported to make their fullest contribution to the IOE’s mission to improve lives through education and social research.” 


About research culture

UCL’s Research Culture programme is developing a fair, collaborative and inclusive research culture, where both our research and research community can thrive. We work with UCL’s research community to support and deliver change against our 10-year Research Culture Roadmap.