New project: Generative AI research practice – funded by Advance HE

A cross disciplinary groups of experts from Staffordshire University have been awarded a Collaborative Development Fund grant by Advance HE to develop and support postgraduate research students.

Project overview

Generative AI (GAI) presents a paradigm shift for research practice; Sabzalieva and Valentini (2023) identified a range of possible uses including during the writing, research design, data collection and data analysis stages and Nordling (2023) found that 33% of postdoctoral researchers use ChatGPT to support their research. However, those numbers may well be exception in disciplines where AI technologies are integral to the science, most researchers are currently novices in terms of understanding the opportunities and limitations of GAI in their own disciplinary and research contexts. This project will also consider postgraduates on taught and doctoral programmes as well as those supervising them, and those leading the governance of programmes and research practice.

As researchers increasingly deploy GAI, there is a need to ensure that they are
aware of its potential and limitations, know how to evaluate the reliability and validity of outputs and understand its wider societal, ethical and integrity implications.

This project will work with postgraduate students and doctoral supervisors to:
(i) Co-create, deliver and evaluate an experiential workshop programme of workshops
exploring the application of GAI technologies in five different areas of research practice:
a. Literature reviews and synthesising of existing research
b. Reviewing and re-purposing own research for different audiences
c. Translation and undertaking research in another language
d. Qualitative Research skills
e. Researcher career support
(ii) Integrate cross-disciplinary activities to enable participants to:
a. Review, compare and critically evaluate the usefulness, validity, and reliability of the
GAI outputs for different research processes, methodological and disciplinary
b. Explicitly consider the societal, ethical and integrity implications of utilising GAI in
these contexts.
(iii) With participants, co-create a set of principles for GAI for consideration by senior leaders in HE.
(iv) Disseminate the outcomes as re-usable learning objects and case studies for use by those involved in supporting researcher development


Jan 2024 to June 2024

Project team

Overall lead: Dr Jane Wellens – Head of the Graduate School e:

Prof Jon Fairburn – Business School

Craig Holdcroft, Lecturer in Digital Marketing, Business School e:

Gary McNally, Research Training Manager

Dr Jim Pugh – Director of the Institute for Education

Other partners

UK Council for Graduate Education

Other resources

For any staff or PGR student interested in AI issues – Jon Fairburn and Gary McNally have already established a pan University MS Team to discuss and co-ordinate activity in this area – feel free to join.

AI and research

You may also be interested in another of our projects Digital Stoke which is researching the size, characteristics and growth of the digital sector.