Professors under the research spotlight

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Westminster Institute of Education academic Professor Steve Rayner is part of a team leading an investigation into the role of professors in staff leadership. Oxford Brookes University, in collaboration with academics from the University of Leeds and the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) have secured funding from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) for a study on Leading Professors: examining the perspectives of ‘the led’ in relation to professorial leadership. The project title is a deliberate play on words and will attempt to identify both models of good practice of professorial leadership and characteristics of ‘leading professors’. The research bid was one of fifteen successful small development projects chosen at this year’s round of bids, and the SRHE will also host two dissemination seminars on its behalf at its London office later in 2011 and in 2012. The study will involve a short online questionnaire that will be sent to around 6,000 non-professorial UK academics, and semi-structured interviews with around 50 academics across a range of disciplines. The role of professors is an under-researched topic; with SRHE members Malcolm Tight and Bruce Macfarlane having paved the way with their work in this area, the Leeds-Oxford Brookes team hope to contribute to its knowledge base. Professor Rayner has already published work on professorial leadership; his co-authored Managing leadership in the UK university: A case for researching the missing professoriate? was published in Studies in Higher Education last year.