Demystifying academics to enhance university–business collaborations in environmental science



Hillier, John K ORCID: 0000-0002-0221-8383, Saville, Geoffrey R, Smith, Mike J ORCID: 0000-0003-4719-8651, Scott, Alister J, Raven, Emma K, Gascoigne, Jonathon, Slater, Louise J ORCID: 0000-0001-9416-488X, Quinn, Nevil ORCID: 0000-0001-6510-3041, Tsanakas, Andreas, Souch, Claire
et al (show 12 more authors) (2019) Demystifying academics to enhance university–business collaborations in environmental science. Geoscience Communication, 2 (1). 1 - 23.

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Abstract

<jats:p>Abstract. In countries globally there is intense political interest in fostering effective university–business collaborations, but there has been scant attention devoted to exactly how an individual scientist's workload (i.e. specified tasks) and incentive structures (i.e. assessment criteria) may act as a key barrier to this. To investigate this an original, empirical dataset is derived from UK job specifications and promotion criteria, which distil universities' varied drivers into requirements upon academics. This work reveals the nature of the severe challenge posed by a heavily time-constrained culture; specifically, tension exists between opportunities presented by working with business and non-optional duties (e.g. administration and teaching). Thus, to justify the time to work with business, such work must inspire curiosity and facilitate future novel science in order to mitigate its conflict with the overriding imperative for academics to publish. It must also provide evidence of real-world changes (i.e. impact), and ideally other reportable outcomes (e.g. official status as a business' advisor), to feed back into the scientist's performance appraisals. Indicatively, amid 20–50 key duties, typical full-time scientists may be able to free up to 0.5 day per week for work with business. Thus specific, pragmatic actions, including short-term and time-efficient steps, are proposed in a “user guide” to help initiate and nurture a long-term collaboration between an early- to mid-career environmental scientist and a practitioner in the insurance sector. These actions are mapped back to a tailored typology of impact and a newly created representative set of appraisal criteria to explain how they may be effective, mutually beneficial and overcome barriers. Throughout, the focus is on environmental science, with illustrative detail provided through the example of natural hazard risk modelling in the insurance sector. However, a new conceptual model of academics' behaviour is developed, fusing perspectives from literature on academics' motivations and performance assessment, which we propose is internationally applicable and transferable between sectors. Sector-specific details (e.g. list of relevant impacts and user guide) may serve as templates for how people may act differently to work more effectively together. </jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2019 11:50
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2021 04:28
DOI: 10.5194/gc-2-1-2019
Open Access URL: https://www.geosci-commun.net/2/1/2019/
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3031298