Professor Margaret Maxwell

Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport

Role: Director of NMAHP Research Unit

Research interests: I have been involved in health services research for over 30 years, focusing on the quality and delivery of care and common mental health problems. I have been involved in several European research collaborations tackling suicide, depression, and now mental health in the workplace.

I also have significant involvement in research on maternal mental health, child and adolescent mental health, and substance misuse and mental health studies. Being almost entirely research focused for my whole career has meant that I have often become involved in many different topic areas that require methodological skills or through PhD supervision.

This has stretched me into areas of diabetes care, pelvic floor dysfunction and even experiences and services for those with lower limb amputations. That is the wonderful world of research - every day is a new learning opportunity.

Why do you think a positive research culture is important?

Research is now more difficult than ever to undertake. That is certainly true in the health arena. The governance and bureaucracy take up almost as many resources as doing the research itself. The research culture in which we work has to appreciate these difficulties and at the same time motivate us to do more and better research. So we need a working environment and research culture that is fun, supportive, and motivating.

What aspects of Research culture are most important to you?

Having systems in place that make things easier for researchers to get on with the research and support teams to help with the rest.
Leadership and leaders that can help define and communicate our purpose (knowing where we are going, why we are going there and inspiring staff to want to go there!)

Having a culture where staff at all levels mix together, and work together to share and work on ideas.

Can you give an example of an action you have taken to improve research culture?

Quarterly (whole day) meetings with staff to share our common purpose, develop staff and their skills, share what we are doing, and ideas for the future.

What is something that you personally would like to do next to improve research culture?

I would like to introduce more protected time for contract research staff to develop ideas for funding.