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Career building for researchers
A social research agency perspective
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Academic profile of our social
researchers
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Academic Profile
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• 190 in my division, 120 in Social Research Institute as researchers
• Graduates from a wide range of institutions, although 63%
attended Russell Group universities as undergraduates
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Which disciplines?
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Languages Law
2%
2%
Science
4%
Arts
6%
Mathematics
2%
Business
6%
Humanities
17%
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Social science
61%
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Then what?
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•50% stopped at
first degree
•42% completed
Masters degree
•8% progressed to
PhD
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Masters – which disciplines?
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Geography
4%
Business
5%
Arts
4%
History
9%
Social
science
78%
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Masters – which institutions?
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• The range of institutions also narrows:
• One in five of those with a Masters studied at LSE, plus:
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What sets a Masters graduate apart on recruitment?
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Astronaut
Ballerina
Lawyer
Doctor
Social
researcher?
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So only a few with a PhD
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University of Oxford
University of Aberdeen
• Politics
• Politics
University of Leeds
University of Cambridge
• Communication Studies
• Economic restructuring, rural
industrialisation and gender studies
University of Cardiff
Yerevan State University
• Social Psychology
• Sociology and Social Policy
London School of Economics
• Social Psychology
Kings College London
• Youth Crime Prevention
University of Surrey
• Sociology
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Why so few with a PhD?
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Many skills we look for can be found in excellent graduates
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Team
working
Customer
focus
Innovative
Academic
excellence
Skills we look for in
early career
researchers
Project
management
skills
Written and
verbal
comm’n
Numerate
and
analytical
Commercial
acumen
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We reserve special questions for PhD applicants!
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Can you juggle
more than
one thing at
a time?
What are the
differences
between your
PhD research
and what we
do?
Can you meet
short term
deadlines?
Why not an
academic
career?
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Will you feel
constrained
by the focus
on client
objectives?
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Can you work
within
budgets?
Many convince us!
13
• The reality is that many can provide very good answers
to these questions:
• They pursued academic research before looking to start a
career in the commercial sector not as an alternative
Commercial • Familiar with working within budgets for funded research.
acumen
• Often need to multi-task whilst completing PhD – teaching,
marking, writing papers etc.
• Good self-discipline and time management demonstrated
Project
management by actually completing a PhD.
• They have had to focus on answering the questions posed
within their PhD, or funded research projects.
• Often look forward to the variety and teamworking after
Focus/variety working alone on PhD.
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Those with
PhDs often
among best
we have
What skills did a PhD develop that are useful for a career at Ipsos MORI?
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“Time management and hard
work! The fact that I actually
managed to get my PhD
finished within the three years
showed me and employers that
I could deliver.”
“Responsibility and being
accountable for what you
produce. You have to organise
everything yourself – from
scoping the study to getting
data or interviews to the final
product.”
“Communicating clearly.
Teaching and running seminars
for undergraduates helped me
to express ideas simply. Also
gave me confidence when I first
started moderating focus group
discussions.”
“The quality of my writing.
Although the style and
audiences are different for the
work I do here, I write to a high
standard. I expect and am
patient with revisions.”
“Sourcing and assimilating
large amounts of information,
finding common themes and
variations. Helps greatly with
qualitative analysis and desk
research.”
“Being able to construct an
argument which is well
referenced and well evidenced.
I can apply this directly to report
and proposal writing.”
“I’m not phased by high levels
of detailed scrutiny. The PhD
trained me to be able to justify
every decision and argument.”
“It has helped me when working
with academic partners here. I
understand want they want and
can do a better job for them
than if I had not done my PhD.”
“Critical review. This has helped
me when responding to
research briefs or reviewing
reports.”
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What skills did a PhD develop that are useful for a career at Ipsos MORI?
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Time
management
Responsibility
Communication
from teaching
Quality of
writing
Assimilating
information
Evidenced
argument
Used to critical
review
Used to
scrutiny
Understand
academic
partners
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What did you still have to learn when you started at
Ipsos MORI?
Team working
• “You work on your own a lot during your PhD. Taking instructions from others and fitting in with other
people’s timings are key challenges when you start.”
Juggling deadlines
• “Managing several conflicting deadlines was difficult to start with. I thought I could do it – I had taught
during my PhD - but he number and mix of deadlines was tricky.”
• “Juggling several projects and then many tasks within projects. It was a complete contrast to the focus of
writing up a PhD. I loved it though and thrived on the challenge. It is what I wanted!”
Applying research methods
• “I taught survey design to undergraduates but applying it in a commercial context was a different skill
entirely.”
• “I needed to learn the practicalities of carrying out research in an agency environment. How to sample,
check data, apply weighting. I’d had a lot of experience analysing secondary data and some qualitative
fieldwork but quantitative data collection was new to me.”
Writing for a non-academic audience
• “Adapting my writing style for the appropriate audience took a bit of work. I had to simplify the message and
learn to make it less dense.”
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16
Why did you choose commercial social research?
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“To work with other people in a team – I
was lonely!”
“I wanted to switch to a commercial
environment with quicker turnaround
projects. To see clients asking the
research questions and using the data.”
“I wanted career progression with
structured training. It is difficult to move
beyond contracts in academia.”
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Our PhD graduates say
best way to help you
get a job in our
industry is to get some
commercial work
experience
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Many benefits to better links
19
Access
to data
• Bespoke research
for your PhD which
benefits us too.
Commercial
experience
Networks
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• How to apply
research techniques
in business
• Develop skills for a
commercial
environment
• Improves
employability
• Stronger links
between
universities and
agencies
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[email protected] | 020 7347 3000
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