top of page

57. A workday in the life of a Victoria & Stuart Project manager

Written by Andrea Bruun, Research Associate, Kingston University.

Have you ever thought about what researchers actually do on a normal workday? The job title ‘Research Associate’ may be unknown territory for a lot of people. The fact that every research project is different and therefore involves different tasks also makes it even more difficult to grasp. Let me try and demystify my job a little bit by taking you through my workday on a grey Monday in March.

I am one of the project managers on The Victoria & Stuart Project. The project manager role has been split into two, which means we are two people co-managing the project: my colleague Sarah Gibson and myself. In our job description, our project management tasks include:

  • Share responsibility for efficient day-to-day management and delivery of the entire project, and contribute to the design and conduct of the research. This involves small-scale project management, to co-ordinate multiple aspects of work to meet deadlines.

  • Organise meetings of the full Research Team, Co-Design Team and Research Advisory Group.

So, what does that look like on a normal workday?

My Monday (11 March 2024)

09.00-10.00: Co-applicant meeting

Once a month on a Monday, we meet up with the co-applicants (the people who applied for the research funding) to discuss where we are at with the project. We start at 09.00 (we are definitely not kind to ourselves with such an early meeting on a Monday…) and have an hour-long meeting. I send out a meeting reminder and preliminary agenda to the team the week before, and my colleague Sarah and I take turns taking the meeting minutes – this time it was my turn. So, I had my pen ready and scribbled down our discussions. This meeting was a special one, as it was the last one for some of our colleagues (our project is slowly coming to an end). So, we also talked about endings and looked back at the project. First meeting of the day done!

10.00-11.00: Project management meeting

No time to relax, other than going to the loo and getting another cup of coffee ready, because the next meeting was lined up for 10.00. This one was a project management one with Sarah, Irene (our manager), and me. In this meeting, we get an overview of what needs to be done, who does it, and when should it be done. We also sort any challenges related to the project we may be experiencing. In this meeting, we ended up spending most of the time discussing a paper that Sarah had been working on. We also talked about the plans for our next couple of days in the office (we work in the Kingston office with our researchers with learning disabilities on Thursdays). Second meeting of the day done!

11.00-13.30: Meeting minutes and paper writing

I am the kind of person who likes to get meeting minutes out of the way as soon as possible after a meeting. So right after the second meeting, I started typing them up and circulated them to the team. First job done!

My to-do list (sorry for the bad handwriting)

An important part of doing research is getting the results published, getting them out there. For a few months now, I have been working on a paper on our All Together Group. I have left the paper for a bit as other tasks where more important and needed to be prioritised (we had a whole toolkit to trial). But this weekend I decided I wanted to finish the paper, so my task of the day was to get a chunk of the paper written. I wrote down the different sections I still needed to write, and the goal of the day was to get the methods section done. I managed to do so – second job done!

14.00-15.30: Data session

A late lunch and then getting ready for the third meeting of the day. At 14.00, I had a meeting I was really looking forward to. The meeting was a Conversation Analysis data session. I am leading a sub-study where we are recording funeral planning sessions and analysing the recordings using Conversation Analysis. A part of the analytical process is to do data sessions where you present pieces of data (the recording and transcripts) and discuss them with other researchers. I had invited three researchers with an expertise in Conversation Analysis and learning disabilities to join me for a session. Data and transcripts were ready, and I was excited to hear what they thought about my data.

We had a good chat about the data and discussed aspects such as test-questions, using pictures as conversation starters, and the overall aim of the project and the resources we have developed. The session was deemed a success and we agreed to do more data sessions in the future – all of a sudden, plans for a small network on researchers doing Conversation Analysis within the learning disability field was born. Third job of the day indeed done!

15.30-17.00: Paper writing

After the data session, I went back to paper writing. I managed to write a good chunk of the background session. Not quite finished but getting closer. So almost job done!

End-of-day reflections

As you can see, this was a meeting-heavy day with a lot of project management tasks, but there was still time to dig into paper writing and data analysis. Not to forget that I (apparently) also send out 24 emails on that Monday, so somewhere in-between these bigger tasks I have been writing some emails.

I love how diverse the research job is with (a lot of) admin tasks (i.e., meetings, invites, emails, coordinating events) but also with many core research tasks (i.e., data collection, analysis, paper writing). I love how I can manage my own time, do the tasks that I feel like on the day – as long as I get the job done (Irene might come after me now..). Because there are so many different types of tasks in a research project no days are ever the same. Tomorrow, will be different (starting the day with writing this little diary-like blog entry, setting it up on the website, publishing it, and sharing it on social media – and hey, that is probably about the time you joined me!).


bottom of page