Assisting Women Assisting Research: The Professional and Career Development Needs of Education Faculty Research Assistants
Bridgstock, Ruth S. & Wilss, Lynn A. (2005) Assisting Women Assisting Research: The Professional and Career Development Needs of Education Faculty Research Assistants. In 2005 Women in Research Conference: "Women Doing Research", 24 & 25 November, 2005, Gladstone, Queensland.
Research Assistants (RAs) are a crucial yet often under-recognised and under-supported group in the social sciences. These predominantly female staff members are involved in every facet of scholarly research, and undertake research functions ranging from basic tasks to highly skilled analysis, writing and project management functions. In the context of escalating Government pressure for Universities to improve efficiency, productivity and accountability in all areas, skilled RAs are increasingly essential to the achievement of research performance indicators. However, there is some evidence to suggest that through university casualisation and under-resourcing, RAs may often not be acknowledged or receive adequate professional development. This paper profiles Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education RAs in terms of their skill sets, employment circumstances and educational backgrounds. While nearly all RAs in the study were female and employed on a casual basis, they were otherwise a heterogenous group, including some undergraduates with minimal research experience, and some highly experienced and well-qualified RAs with specialised research capabilities. This study identifies key opportunities for skills enhancement, research community involvement, and career advancement (including research-focussed academic pathways), and makes recommendations regarding RA development initiatives.
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