Digital research technologists are essential to the HDR UK mission and vision, but there is a lack of understanding of the role they play and its importance. This leads to lack of recognition and opportunities for this group. Phil Quinlan, a senior digital research technologist for HDR UK, has written a blog about digital research technologists here. The collaborative, team culture that HDR UK aims to foster, is held back by the under appreciation of this group. Therefore we have planned a short programme of activities to lift the lid on what digital research technologists do, celebrate their work and further build this cohort within the HDR UK community.

We are inviting digital research technologists to join HDR UK’s new #digital-research-technologists Slack channel and put themselves forward to have a case study professionally written up about their work. We aim to build a national community of digital research technologists to learn from each other’s experiences, share opportunities that are open to them, and provide a channel of communication with this group so their voice in HDR UK is stronger.

Please join the #digital-research-technologists Slack channel by 31 August at this link (or email melissa.lewis-brown@hdruk.ac.uk) if you consider yourself to be one. We define digital research technologists as those who:

  • Have deep technical knowledge, but also solid research domain knowledge.
    • Bridge the traditional barrier between science/research and technology.
    • Can provide a service to clinicians, academics, etc to develop technical solutions to help answer applied research questions; but can also lead research in their own right.
    • Are integral to projects, contributing intellectual input to research.

It can also helpful to define what we mean by digital research technologist, in terms of what they are not:

  • They do not fulfil the role of someone within an Information Technology department (e.g. servers, printers, networks).
  • They are not ‘technicians’, so the Technician Charter does not apply to this group, but are often on the same technical scale in universities etc.
  • They often have not come through a traditional academic route, so would not consider themselves to be ‘academics’ and are unlikely to hold a PhD.

Some examples of the roles a digital research technologist might play:

  • Production of high-quality code to support research.
  • Lead and develop research proposals and outputs.
  • Provide advice on what and how insights can be drawn from health data at scale.
  • Co-ordinate and /or lead on complex projects providing technical input.
  • Can apply industry standards to research environments.
  • Contribute to scholarly networks.

If this resonates with your role, please join the Slack channel. To discuss further, do get in touch with Phil Quinlan (HDR UK Midlands Associate Director), Melissa Lewis-Brown (HDR UK Science Manager), or George Moulton (HDR UK Director of Training).