Just as there are many types of writers, there are also many types of researchers.

Through our work on the Writer’s Cycle, we have discovered that writers have many different ‘identities’ or perspectives.

Similarly, researchers can vary in terms of how experienced they are, their persona, and perspective. Many people feel they don’t ‘count’ as a researcher, because their research does not take place within a generally recognised, ‘official’ context, such as a university.

That’s why we’ve written this guide to some different types of researcher:

Photo of a woman with an open notebook
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Three key research perspectives:

Emerging Researcher:
Researchers of any age who are in the first few years of exploration. They may be completing their first project or have completed very small ones, but most likely will not have published or presented their research to the public through a recognised publisher. Some emerging researchers may have circulated their findings in small groups. They could be an undergraduate, MA or PhD student, or someone embarking on their first professional research role. Or they could simply be interested in research and beginning to delve into their own chosen topic.

Continuing Researchers:
Continuing researchers are people who have been working in research for many years and have published papers, projects, and/or multimedia representations of their findings.

They are confident in knowing how to compile evidence and data, build connections with individuals and organisations to facilitate research, and are likely to have been associated with an institution such as a university or a research company during their career. They will probably have multiple publication credits if their work is in the academic field. If they are more of a community-based researcher, they will have compiled a large amount of information through projects, and are likely to be a key person in their community – someone who people go to, to gain information or advice on where to start their own research.

Research Facilitators:
Research Facilitators help to build, support and maintain the research environment, understanding the needs of a particular section of the research community.

They are curators and custodians of people, places, and knowledge. Facilitators can be researchers themselves; or they may provide access to research through a service or space that they provide.

They include people like librarians, research leaders such as heads of research centres, student union reps, archivists, and research development officers.

In addition to the three key research perspectives listed above, researchers may also identify themselves as one of the following:

Citizen Investigators:
These are researchers working outside of universities or other research organisations. They can be solo researchers, working individually, or part of a community group or club working on a project such as archiving or attempting to discover the history and/or story of a family member, local figure, or place. Or they could be an individual carrying out research within a work-based context to design or develop a new product, system, or service.

This group is the most diverse. Citizen investigators may have undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, or neither. They might be associated with a professional body or university currently, in the past, or not at all. Their work could be published in an academic context such as a textbook, journal, or essay, or it could be circulated and/or displayed within a community, or using multimedia forms in a more artistic style.

The most important thing is that they are reaching out to expand their knowledge, compile and analyse information.

Engaged Researchers:
Engagement is a term that is widely used in a variety of sectors, from arts and heritage to science policy and local government. Whilst in some sectors it has a precise definition, in others it is used more flexibly.

Engaged researchers are primarily university-based researchers who emphasise the importance of engaging the public throughout each stage of the research process.

There are significant amounts of engaged research activities happening at universities. From outreach to collaborative research projects, staff and students are involved in lots of interesting projects.

The goal is to enhance the impact of a research project and any findings it generates.

Add to this list

If we’ve missed you off this list then get in touch with us via our Contact Us page and tell us what you are doing to support the research community.