Here at PCL, we are continually knee-deep in research, limbering up for webinars and putting pen to paper to build upon our insights. Why? To support and enhance our clients’ experience and enjoyment of the psychometric assessment world. Our research and development team are integral to this. With 34 (and counting!) ongoing R&D projects currently underway, we sat down with Dr. Simon Toms, our Principal Research Psychologist, to find out how a typical day unfolds.
My day kicks off with a short team meeting, followed by reading and responding to emails. Recent weeks have involved engaging with various students taking part in the PCL ‘Student Sponsorship Programme’ (SSP), which has emerged since its launch in Autumn 2016 as a significant vehicle for PCL research.
As well as providing access to MSc students engaging in their dissertational research, the SSP has also helped us increase our engagement with the broader academic community. Over the last two years alone, we have undertaken projects with students from fifteen different universities.
Mid-morning includes a Zoom call with a researcher I am collaborating with. This is typical given PCL’s range of projects, and the content of these meetings depends on the point in the project’s timeline. In the early stages of a project, focus will be primarily theoretical, with a view to generating more concrete plans. Once formed, discussions will move to delivery, participant recruitment, data collection, analysis and ultimately, dissemination. The latter stage of a project will help researchers maximise the impact of their findings.
Collaboration with researchers may come through the SSP, but it is also common to engage with academics and practitioners who have identified a PCL psychometric as integral to increasing understanding of a particular topic. Engaging and supporting these researchers is an important part of my role.
It’s late morning, I get a chance to spend some time reading up on recent studies in the realm of psychometrics. Keeping abreast of developments in the discipline is essential, although the literature we consume is wide-ranging. Emails with academic journal articles attached frequently fly around the office, and books are shared freely.
In addition to reading the literature, PCL uses its various research and development activities to regularly contribute to it. Examples of publications PCL have written for include Assessment & Development Matters, and OP Matters.
Just before lunch, I spend time working on a submission for an upcoming conference. Our goal is to present findings of a case study at the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology, which boasts thousands of members from across the world. The event is planned for January 2022 and will be based in Glasgow.
PCL have presented at dozens of national and international conferences over the years, and whilst the pandemic has created a significant obstacle, online events have begun filling the void effectively. As well as sharing findings from our research projects, these events represent an excellent chance to engage with our profession more broadly.
Writing White papers
After lunch I spend some much-needed time on writing up research we’ve recently completed. Outputs vary and can range from short blogs, technical manual updates, supplementary training material, and white papers. Writing will often be a collaborative process and has enabled PCL to boast a long and growing list of research outputs.
This work is vital for several reasons. In relation to the SSP, it facilitates students’ ability to increase the exposure of their projects beyond the dissertation hand-in date. This can provide a vital platform for the new graduates to communicate their findings to the wider community.
Our research outputs also aid PCL’s sizeable network of psychologists trained to administer and interpret our psychometric assessments in a range of selection and development settings. Providing users with the latest research findings relating to our tools is an important responsibility for test publishers.
The end of the day is an important time to engage in reflective practice and record the various activities that have occurred over the preceding hours. This is especially important in light of a vital, yet often under-discussed facet of research: project management.
We often encourage researchers we collaborate with to adopt the perspective of a project manager in the pursuit of their work. Considering timelines, identifying stakeholders, assigning resources, expanding networks, developing contingency plans, and establishing end goals are all integral to success.
This approach is particularly important for PCL. At the time of writing, PCL currently has 34 ongoing research and development projects. These equate to hundreds of days of staff time each year. As Principal Research Psychologist, part of my role involves keeping track of these projects. Doing so represents a job in and of itself!
My role enables me to continually learn and develop, as well as encourage these things in others. It has introduced me to a variety of talented people who are improving the understanding we have about the workplace, and the importance of this understanding will only increase.