UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN)


Telling But Not Twisting the Story of Research

Challenge: To explore whether and how to shift the orientation of research reports away from persuading readers and more towards informing readers. The Story Associate will explore how to retain the benefits of accessible narrative forms, whilst maintaining standards of rigour within research.

Working pattern:
Either part-time for a year or full-time for six months, remote.

Who we’re looking for:
Someone with a commitment to research rigour, strong interrogative and solution finding skills, and a creative approach to sharing and enabling good practices.

Start date:
Story Associates will join the scheme in early September. They will start by taking part in a Deep Story Training Camp and will then move on to their Host projects and placements.

You could approach this as an exploration into how an understanding of advanced Story Skills can bolster authenticity, usefulness and rigour in research. This could extend to an exploration of the values of story in communicating good research practice.

£37,099, pro rata, point 30 on National Spinal Point, or equivalent value fellowship grant (paid on supplier contract basis).

The scene is set…

Their raison d’etre is research rigour. They run a fine tooth comb through methods and processes of knowledge production, reinforce research excellence with steadfast attention, and pursue outstanding levels of transparency, reproducibility and authenticity in work conducted across the UK research system.

This is the UK Reproducibility Network, also known as UKRN. They are a national peer-led consortium that interrogates factors affecting research rigour and supports a culture of continual improvement through training, support, coordination, collaboration and constructive challenges.

A hero is summoned…

UKRN are calling for a hero ready to both investigate and advise on telling authentic stories of research. The challenge is to explore whether and how research reporting needs to shift the emphasis from persuading to informing. UKRN are concerned that attempts to produce a ‘clean narrative’ in research reports can exclude and elide the messiness, complexities, blind alleys, failures and heuristics that are integral to actual research processes. This is a ‘wicked’ problem: a problem that is seemingly impossible to solve because of its complexity, its multiple intersections with other problems, and continually changing factors and parameters and difficulties in its definition. Omitting the messiness of research can make reports more persuasive but it can also disguise certain aspects of research realities, potentially with the effect of systematically perpetuating certain narratives about what research is and does. How, then, can we tell research stories in ways that are engaging and impactful but authentic and transparent?

UKRN needs someone with a sharp eye and a commitment to research integrity to investigate this issue. The aim is to retain the power of narrative in communicating research but to do so in ways that are more authentic and useful to readers of research reports. Our hero will explore narrative strategies and tools that can help communicate research and research processes authentically.

An adventure gets underway…

This adventure will involve developing creative methods for sharing and enabling good practice in authentic research reporting as well as the development of techniques to make the wicked problem of ‘clean narratives’ more visible.

Our hero will develop a strategy through rapid and reflexive reviews of meta-research, stakeholder interviews and workshops and webinars with the wider research community. They will also determine an evaluation method for testing intended and unintended effects of their strategy for authentic research stories. This is an opportunity to become part of UKRN’s important pursuit of research rigour.

This adventure will contribute to the StoryArcs mission to explore the value and uses of Story Skills in life, learning and work. The findings brought back to StoryArcs HQ will be crucial in our development and co-creation of a Story Skill Set.

This is one of eleven projects. You can find out more about the Story Associate opportunity and explore all eleven opportunities.


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Read the UKRN Role Description

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