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Research Culture Awards 2024

From 5 April until 3 May 2024, applications are open for the 2024 Research Culture Awards at Leeds.

To apply, please visit our Research Culture Staff Intranet page where you will be able to download the application form.

Aims of the Research Culture Awards: 

  • To highlight the intrinsic links between excellence in research quality and research culture 
  • To recognise and reward teams and individuals actively embedding positive research culture at the University 
  • To inspire colleagues by sharing challenges, solutions, and innovative approaches to improving research culture  
  • To empower prizewinning teams to scale up their research culture activities and increase momentum 
  • To raise the internal and external visibility of improvements to our research culture to drive sector-wide change. 


In 2023 we launched our Research Culture Strategic Plan, stating our position and intentions for achieving a more positive research environment at the University of Leeds. The plan comprises four strategic objectives to achieve the overall vision of enabling more colleagues to produce leading research inclusively, equitably, openly, and supportively.

Research Culture Strategy and objectives

Improving our research culture is a complex, challenging, and ongoing process. The Research Culture awards recognise that there are many steps to celebrate along the way. The purpose of the awards is not to identify winners and losers, but to celebrate good research culture in its many forms, generated by many kinds of people. Initiatives can be focused at the individual, group, school, faculty, institution, or sector level.  

As collaboration is key to this journey, the awards will recognise all those involved in contributing to research success, whatever their role, encompassing researchers, technical professionals, professional services staff, external partners, research participants, and others.  

Also key is experimentation. The awards encompass activities and practice of any size or scale, at any point of development. We value research culture in all its forms, whether introducing new ideas, changing how we do things, or contributing to lasting organisational change. We don’t expect nominees to go above and beyond their normal duties; our focus is on innovations, improvements, or sustained commitments that make palpable positive change. 

Ceremony and prizes 

Applicants will be informed of the outcome by email in early June. Awards will be celebrated at a reception on Monday 24 June. Winner and runner up teams are expected to join.

The first prize in each category comprises:

  • A certificate and trophy
  • £3,000 for future activities to enhance research culture (to be spent before 31 July 2025)
  • Promotional communications highlighting the activity and award.

The second prize in each category comprises:

  • A certificate
  • £1,000 for future activities to enhance research culture (to be spent before 31 July 2025)
  • Promotional communications highlighting the activity and award.

To find out more about the campus reception, take a look back at the 2022 inaugural Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards event.

Research Culture Award Categories 

Our four interlinked strategic objectives provide a framework for all research culture activity at the University. They also form the 2024 award categories alongside two additional areas of recognition.

Award for diverse forms of research activity

This award recognises the importance of expanding our traditional definitions of success: 

  1. by recognising the full range of roles contributing to research. Teamwork is a vital ingredient in research success and this award celebrates contributions from research enablers who are not always recognised explicitly  
  2. by celebrating the full range of research outputs. This category recognises the important role of innovative methods or non-traditional outputs in generating excellent research outcomes.  

Examples might include: 

  • Impactful contributions from people in research support or research adjacent roles, e.g. librarians, technical professionals, research software engineers, or researcher developers. 
  • Novel approaches to research design and outputs such as digital or visual media, performance, exhibition, or training materials.   

Award for equity, diversity and inclusion in research practices

This award recognises colleagues who enhance or extend the University’s commitments to EDI, embedding it across the research lifecycle from design to delivery. It also recognises colleagues who enable a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce, and/or produce more representative, robust research. 

Examples might include: 

  • Colleagues actively engaged in making their research environment more inclusive, e.g. supporting inclusive fieldwork or laboratory work. 
  • Those who are actively involved in decolonising their research. 
  • Contributions from professional service colleagues or research adjacent colleagues, who lead EDI initiatives to support research and research culture. 
  • Those shaping institutional or national policy and practice in research EDI 

Award for open research practices

This award recognises those who engender open research design, sharing, and impact throughout the research cycle, enabling transparency, reproducibility, reach, and the reduction of inequities.  

Examples might include: 

  • Colleagues who actively demonstrate open research practices across any aspect of the research cycle, e.g. co-production, participatory research, data sharing, software development, or public engagement. 
  • Those who advocate and promote open research practices within their discipline/school/institute. 
  • Those shaping institutional or national policy and practice in open research. 

Award for supporting and developing research teams

This award recognises the critical role that staff development plays in creating a supportive environment for individuals to thrive. One where colleagues are encouraged to undertake professional and career development, to promote collaboration over competition, and to prioritise wellbeing, ensuring that our research teams can fulfil their potential. 

Examples might include: 

  • Colleagues who actively and effectively enable opportunities for the career development of others. 
  • Those who initiate development programmes for teams or cohorts, or devise and implement innovative team building / team research. 
  • Those shaping institutional or national policy and practice in professional development. 

Award for success through adversity

Research often entails struggle, setback, rejection, and disappointment, which can hit doubly hard when these experiences are silenced from the community. This award recognises colleagues who have generated success from adverse circumstances and encourages them to share their stories of triumphing over adversity. 

Examples might include: 

  • Individuals who have overcome constraints due to systemic, institutional, or personal barriers to make significant advances in research. These may range from large-scale events such as natural disasters or political unrest to smaller scale challenges, e.g. repeated funding rejections. 
  • Individuals or teams who have bridged significant interdisciplinary barriers, geographical or cultural challenges, technological or communication differences to deliver excellent research. 
  • Individuals or teams who have demonstrably adapted to unexpected changes in their research environment. 


Award for unsung heroes 

This award recognises individuals or teams within our University community who work tirelessly and effectively behind the scenes, without deserved appreciation. Forming the hidden backbone of our institution, such colleagues advance research, support their peers, and ensure the smooth functioning of projects. This award focuses a spotlight on their achievements, highlighting their essential role in our research success. It serves as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation for their outstanding commitment and dedication to excellence. 

Examples might include: 

  • Less visible, ‘back office’ contributions, without which a particular piece of research would have been of significantly lower quality or impact. 
  • Highly collegiate colleagues who make a positive difference to the research culture of a community through their actions. 

Meet our 2022 Winners!

Collegiate and supportive environment (2022)

This award recognised contributions made to create a collegiate research environment, within or beyond your immediate research group or service. It rewarded efforts to support the wellbeing of others, creating inclusive teams and examples of inspirational leadership.

Winning project: PhD Discussion Community (‘DISCO’)

Team members: Francis Poitier, Anam Ayaz-Shah, William Goodman, Nichola Jones, Maisie Martland and Dr Rebecca Beeken.

Runners-up: Let’s Bragg about it! How the Bragg Centre forged an engaged community when the world stayed apart.

Team members: Dr Andy Lee, Daniel Paterson, Lucy Leonard and Helen Walters.

Responsible research and innovation (2022)

This award recognised the importance of responsible research practices, and rewarded efforts to place research integrity at the core of our work, ensuring it’s trustworthy, ethical, honest, rigorous, respectful and accountable.

Winning project: Leading change in the responsible use of research metrics.

Team members: Claire Knowles, Liz Neilly, Alistair Knock, Professor Simon Ball, Sally Dalton, Rebecca Fleming, Dr Barbara Lancho-Barrantes, Professor Yingqi (Annie) Wei, Tina Egan, Jo Squires and Professor Alan Haywood.

There was no runner-up in this category.

Personal development, reward and recognition (2022)

This award recognised the importance of developing and rewarding others. The focus was on the often-unrecognised contributions that people make in developing our culture, including those who support the development of others.

Winning project: Instigation of the water@leeds funded Water Woman Award and associated career development initiatives.

Team members: Professor Clare Woulds, Professor Julia Martin-Ortega, Dr Gabriela Lopez Gonzalez, Ann Marie Boyle and Dr Susannah Hopson

Runners-up: ‘Long horizon’ mentoring to foster a supportive, world-leading research culture.

Team members: Dr Alex Beresford, Professor Richard Beardsworth, Dr Emma-Louise Anderson and Marie Johnson.

Open research and impact (2022)

This award recognisee initiatives that increased the transparency, collaboration, inclusivity, reproducibility and efficiency of research processes to build trust and accountability. It focused on aspects such as open access and open data, and promoting the use of open platforms for sharing research data, activities, outputs and impact.

Winning project: Opening up data science to solve real-world problems.

Team members: Dr Emily Ennis, Professor Mark Birkin, Professor Ed Manley, Dr Nik Lomax, Adam Keeley, Dr Pete Baudains, Kylie Norman, Robyn Naisbitt, Mel Green, Oli Mansell and Paul Evans.

Runners-up: Creating an impact strategy for the Faculty of Medicine and Health to accelerate the translation process between research excellence and societal impact.

Team members: Ali Quaile.

Equality, diversity and inclusion in research (2022)

This award recognised initiatives that made positive changes to embed a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in research.

Winning project: Championing recruitment for diversity on the LIDA Data Scientist Development Programme.

Team members: Kylie Norman, Dom Frankis, Dr Michelle Morris and Professor Nick Malleson.

Runners-up: Belonging and Success research group – building a more equitable future for all.

Team members: Louise Banahene, Dr Paul Taylor, Katie Livesey and Dr Emma Peasland.