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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S012117/1
Title: Disability Inclusive Science Careers
Principal Investigator: McLaughlin, Professor S
Other Investigators:
MacIntosh, Professor R Pelloni, Professor B Bosche, Dr F
Richards, Dr J Chrisp, Professor T Shinton, Dr S
Sang, Professor K
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
National Association of Disabled Staff Scottish Research Partnership in Eng University and Colleges Union Scotland
Department: Sch of Social Sciences
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 December 2018 Ends: 28 February 2022 Value (£): 494,404
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Jun 2018 Inclusion Matters Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
It is vital for the UK's economy and position as a global leader of scientific discovery that talented researchers are recruited and retained within our research communities. Despite legal frameworks and initiatives by universities and other employers, disabled researchers, and those with chronic health problems, are leaving scientific careers before entering permanent academic positions. Barriers to disability inclusive careers include, for example:

- the built environment,

- inaccessible laboratories and lectures halls,

- social barriers including shared office spaces or networking and

- managerial, (e.g. limited understanding of disability organisational policies and frameworks).

It is vital that these barriers are overcome in order to ensure scientific careers are open to all talented scientists. For this reason, this research focuses on early career entry to scientific careers, specifically postdoctoral researchers. The aim of this project is to improve the recruitment, retention & progression of postdoctoral disabled scientists through the co-design of a suite of web based tools and gaming technologies (Disability Inclusive Science Careers - DISC).

Disability Inclusive Science Careers (DISC) is a suite of web based and immersive virtual reality gaming tools designed to support industry employers, universities, research funders, trade unions and other key stakeholders to create disability inclusive scientific careers. The project is led by a team of researchers and career development specialists in two universities, disability advocacy organisations and a global engineering company. Disabled researchers, managers, employers and other key stakeholders will co-design DISC alongside academics with expertise in diversity and organisational change.

The programme of work consists of five work packages:

Work Package 1: will map existing policies and best practice in universities and employers and interviewing key stakeholders to co-design a web-based tool and the immersive virtual reality games.

Work Package 2: will develop, implement and refine, the web based tool developed using interviews with disabled academics and key stakeholders, and refined based on feedback with end-users. DISC will include animations and videos of first person narratives of science careers and disability. Online training will expose participants to disability legislation, accessibility policies and practices, best practice from organisations, reasonable adjustments guidance and self-care support for disabled researchers.

Work Package 3: partners with a software development company to develop immersive virtual reality games for line managers and research leaders to immerse participants in the lived experiences of disabled researchers. Work package 3 will also develop and deliver train-the-trainer sessions with managers and research leaders on disability inclusion. This training can then be rolled out into participants' organisations.

Work Package 4: will co-design, deliver and implement training for disabled PhD students and postdoctoral researchers on their on their rights and responsibilities and how to ask for reasonable adjustments.

Work Package 5: embeds DISC into the organisational practices and policies in participating organisations, and disseminated to all universities in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, via a disability inclusion summer school in 2020.

To assess the efficacy of DISC participants will complete awareness questionnaires before and after work packages 3, 4 and 5 and will be followed up over a 3 year period following the end of the funding.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk