You are here:  >> >>

Developing Social Science Research Expertise

A Resource and Guide for Trainers

A major challenge for senior academics in leadership positions is how to support mid-career colleague social scientists in accelerating the pace of their expert development as researchers.

This website is aimed at helping senior academics, acting as trainers, to meet this challenge. The site contains research-informed guidance and readily adaptable resources on how to design 'review and planning' workshops for mid-career academics. The workshops assist participants in working out how to enhance their ongoing development of expertise as social science researchers.

The materials can easily be customized to suit particular circumstances. It is important that the trainers for such workshops are themselves well-advanced along the trajectory from novice to expert researcher. This is to ensure credibility with participants and sensitivity to the challenges they face.

Each of the materials can be downloaded from by clicking on one of the tabs above. Together the materials offer trainers extensive guidance and complementary resources, either for 'off-the-shelf' use, or for selective adaptation in creating a bespoke training event:

Trainers are strongly recommended to read the guidance document first. It introduces and justifies the recommended workshop design. It further explains how the associated resources (quotations, slides and handout) can be adapted or extended to suit different requirements.

The guidance and resources were developed by Professor Alison Wray and Professor Mike Wallace, from Cardiff University, under the ESRC Researcher Development Initiative grant Enhancing expert thinking and problem-solving: the development of insight and perspective in theory and practice. These materials are the product of two complementary project activities. (1) research interviews with very experienced social science researchers, supported by a literature review on the development of expertise; (2) the trialling of six workshop designs with mid-career academic social scientists from 2011-2013. (Contact Mike Wallace:

(It is hoped that these materials will prove useful to learners and trainers. However, responsibility for their adaptation and deployment in particular circumstances rests with the trainers and facilitators concerned. The materials reflect the views of their authors and do not represent any official view of the ESRC.)