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Nature Research

Nature Masterclasses course development

The brief

Nature Masterclasses have been developed by Nature Research to provide professional development training for researchers. To build their product suite, Nature Research required research to support the development of new courses to be launched in 2021. Shift were therefore commissioned to help identify challenges faced by researchers, as well as key skills required to be successful in a research career, in order to inform training needs from both an individual and institutional perspective. Once potential course areas were identified, Shift were then tasked with testing the appetite for topic areas and content to be covered in future courses.

The approach

  • To kick-start the project, Shift reviewed internal findings from research conducted by Nature Research and ensured questioning allowed for comparisons in the final deliverables. This also helped to identify potential gaps in questioning.
  • A survey was then developed to be sent to purchasers and end-users, with questions adapted for both audiences. The survey – which generated 762 responses – sought to have international reach, including the Chinese market.
  • A subsequent qualitative phase with 20 early career researchers aimed to add detail to the skills and processes respondents thought important, what they found challenging and how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the development of their professional skills.
  • A final online survey was sent to potential purchasers and end-users of NMO courses to test content topics for courses set to be launched in 2021 – this received 459 usable responses.

The value

Shift worked in close collaboration with Nature Research throughout the project, providing a report at the end of each methodological phase. Regular meetings took place throughout the project to ensure insight was shared continuously, to help ensure Nature Research could meet tight deadlines and launch courses on time. A final combined report was provided, as well as data tables and access to Q Reader files.