Dismantling the barriers: Five things Supervisors can do

11 October 2022 | Blogs, Dr Andy Clempson blog

The role of a Supervisor is incredibly important for all Daphne Jackson Fellows. They can make all the difference to a returner’s journey back into research. Therefore, it stands to reason that Supervisors can implement changes to help returners overcome barriers and successfully return to a research career.

So what can Supervisors do to tackle the barriers that returners face? Read on for some suggestions.


1. Communicate to your research group.

Explain that a Daphne Jackson Fellow will be joining your team and what this means (we strongly advise you to agree with the returner what you will share beforehand). Ask your team to support returners and arrange someone to mentor them during their early weeks and months after they start. Ensure research technicians are on hand to offer advice and create a culture where asking of help is normal, and indeed respected.


2. Provide career development and mentoring programmes to help the returner re-start their careers.

These should be developed with the returner to build a bespoke programme that could include leadership skills, confidence, resilience, and grant writing. This could be supplemented with return coaching to tackle the specific challenges returners might face.


3. Champion your returner throughout their Fellowship and beyond.

Introducing them to your networks and showing your support via social media, at meetings and conferences and throughout your Department will boost their confidence and could even improve future job prospects. Take pleasure in creating and supporting other people’s success – it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of any job.


4. Be realistic about the research outputs from your returner.

Expecting large numbers of publications while shouldering additional responsibilities like teaching and writing grant applications – as well as external commitments – is unrealistic. Goals should be set with the returner and reviewed regularly.


5. Be aware that the personal circumstances of your returner may affect their working patterns.

Meetings and events held outside of core hours are not recommended. Wherever possible, be flexible to help returners balance home and work commitments.


As in our previous blogs, what have I missed? Please contact me (Andy Clempson) via a.clempson@surrey.ac.uk if you have other suggestions that could be added to this.

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