Wellcome logo


Exploring research culture

The brief

Wellcome was launching an ambitious programme to improve research culture. A critical element of this programme was to expand the evidence base around research culture and its impacts – generating a rigorous foundation of data from which to better understand the problem and target interventions.

Wellcome therefore commissioned Shift to conduct in-depth qualitative and quantitative research into UK research culture. This work aimed to support an inclusive and wide-reaching communications campaign. The approach required a high level of rigour, given the audience.

The approach

  • A first stage literature review provided an informed overview of the topic through interpreting available evidence of various kinds. This review included published academic sources alongside a range of grey material to provide an initial view of the research culture landscape.
  • This was followed by 94 telephone interviews with a diverse range of researchers, lasting approximately 45 minutes each. A mixture of random and targeted sampling was used to recruit the respondents.
  • Four co-creation workshops (over 2 hours each) were then conducted, with each group containing 9 members of the research community.
  • A quantitative survey was developed, including up to 70 questions. Recruitment targeted special interest groups to promote robust representation. A final useable sample of 4267 researchers was then analysed.

The value

  • The research process was highly collaborative, allowing Wellcome to feed into the design of later stages through regular and live insight into the findings. Shift developed a comprehensive report for each research phase, followed by an integrated public-facing final report.
  • Presentations of results for each phase took place at the Wellcome offices, as well as a workshop to help shape final deliverables.
  • Wellcome used the results to develop a series of town hall events across the UK to provide a space for the research community to come together and digest the report’s findings, reflect on what a better culture would look like, and share ideas for how parts of the system could change.