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GW4 R WELL (Researcher Wellbeing Evidence and Learning Lab)

Project Summary

While trauma can result from an employee being a victim-survivor of a specific event, secondary trauma can occur when witnessing, seeing the aftermath of, and/or being told about such an event. The issue of trauma and secondary trauma in researchers undertaking potentially distressing research is only just starting to be acknowledged. The network has the long term aim of improving the wellbeing of researchers undertaking research which puts them at risk of distress/(secondary) trauma.

The network used the Development Award funding to establish a core group of academics/professional services staff across GW4 to collaborate on future work on supporting wellbeing in researchers studying distressing topics. A sandpit was used to bring this group together to share knowledge and understanding of researcher distress across different disciplines and research contexts. In particular, the sandpit helped the network to understand current support structures in place across GW4, and identify opportunities for building on relevant research (including the Bath Researcher Wellbeing Project, RWP) and generating new collaborations. The network are now developing leadership roles across GW4 institutions which will promote researcher wellbeing in emotionally challenging topics. This group will work to build on the Bath RWP, expanding it to a support and recommendations framework that could be widely implemented across disciplines and beyond GW4. This work will strengthen GW4 research culture and improve the research environment. The network are also looking at submitting external funding bids to support further research.

Below are resources developed as part of this GW4 funded project and the Bath Researcher Wellbeing Project (funded by the Research England Enhancing Research Culture Fund), tailored for researchers, supervisors and institutions who may be exploring emotionally challenging topics. 

Quick tips if you are writing a grant applicationAn easy-to-access round-up of the resources below. 

Researcher Wellbeing Plan 

Guidance for what to do if a researcher/you get(s) distressedGuidance for people experiencing distress while working on emotionally-challenging research topics. 

Wellbeing guidance for researchers, teams and supervisors: gold, silver and bronzeGuidance on managing researcher wellbeing when undertaking emotionally challenging research. Our recommendations are grouped into gold, silver and bronze categories. 

Guidance for institutional support of emotionally challenging research (funders and employers)Guidance for funders and employers supporting researchers working on emotionally challenging research topics. 

Risk assessment guidance for emotionally challenging researchGuidance for researchers completing risk assessments (ideally) before undertaking emotionally challenging research projects. 

Guidance for researchers if participants experience distress 

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter