Phil Ward

I took up the post of Director of Eastern Arc in August 2019. Since then I’ve been spending time at each of the three Eastern Arc universities, talking to a diverse range of academics and professional services staff, and working with them to develop the new strategy 2020-25.

It’s been fascinating to really get to know the structures and the strengths of each institution, and it’s exciting to see the potential of this collaboration, and how it can benefit both individuals, the universities, and the wider regional and global communities.

My background

Before taking up the role, I was Deputy Director of Research Services at the University of Kent. My remit was broad, but essentially I worked strategically to help and support the academic community in developing a postive research culture and increasing its research income.

This included a number of initiatives, such as working with the Deputy Vice-Cancellor to write the Research and Innovation Strategy, developing the Grants Factory and Early Career Researcher Network programmes, creating an internal peer review system and establishing the Research Prizes, and, of course, leading the Research Development Team which helps individual academics identify and apply for funding.

Before coming to Kent I worked for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, working initially with the English Literature and Language Panel. I then ran the largest of the AHRC’s schemes at the time, the Research Leave scheme.

Engaging across the Sector

Learning from others and sharing experiences is important to me, and I engage widely with others doing similar – and sometimes very different – work. I have led conference sessions at ARMA and EARMA, and workshops put on by individual universities such as Coventry (on impact) and Open (on interdisciplinarity).

As part of this I write the Research Fundermentals blog, which has been the touchstone of background intelligence, insight and humour for the UK research community since 2009.

In recognition of this role it was awarded the ARMA Award for Technological Innovation and Application in 2016, and I was listed as one of the Top 50 Higher Education Social Media Influencers by Jisc in 2015.

As well as this I have written for a range of outlets, including a monthly column for Research Professional’s Funding Insight, and guest articles such as those on the f1000 and Piirus blogs. I undertook a secondment as an editor for Research Professional between 2017-18, and continue to have close ties with them.