In September 2016, a three-day workshop on Improving Literacy Understanding Reading Development and Reading Difficulties across the Lifespan was co-hosted by Tianjin Normal University and University of Leicester. Find how Researcher Links Workshop has helped cemented a strong academic relationship between the two universities and their researchers.

The study of Reading Development is the study of how people progress as readers. Knowing the way people develop their reading skills is helpful when developing materials for specific type of readers of different languages. Funded by Researcher Links Workshop, Tianjin Normal University and University of Leicester, led by Professor Kevin Paterson and Professor Xuejun Bai, co-hosted a 3-day workshop on Improving Literacy Understanding Reading Development and Reading Difficulties across the Lifespan that brought a group of 39 early-career researchers in the field from more than twenty research institutions in China and the UK.  

The workshop was aimed to promote high quality collaborations between UK and China research by  enabling early career researchers from the UK and China to share research findings and ideas, to network, and ultimately to build sustainable collaborations. The workshop also aimed to highlight the challenges faced by different groups of readers, and contribute to providing a research base that can inform educational practice. The research topics were not only focused on reading development in Chinese and English, but also included key contributions from researchers examining the reading of minority languages in China, including Mongolian and Uyghur, and other key presentations considered how best to link research to educational practice.

The workshop has sparked effective links and collaborations on both individual and institutional levels. Many researchers across universities have been able to develop successful interactions with their peers from the other country, and some of such interactions have evolved to more opportunities of exchange, research proposals, projects, and even publications. Professor Kevin Paterson from University of Leicester and Dr QIngqing Qu from Chinese Academy of Sciences have submitted an international exchange application to the Royal Society on Ageing Effects in Speech Production in English and Chinese. Dr Rosa Kwok from Coventry University has developed a collaboration with Dr Jing Zhao from Capital Normal University to investigate reading skills in Chinese. This has resulted in a paper that has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Psychology with the topic of Underlying skills of oral and silent reading fluency in Chinese: perspective of visual rapid processing.  Based on the presentation Dr Nina Liu gave at the workshop, she has since been to visit Dr Chris Hand and Professor Kevin Paterson to prepare a grant application to National Natural Science Foundation of China to investigate children’s development of reading skills for Chinese. Researchers from both countries have also started to exchange PhD students, under the programme of China Scholarship Council or the PhD Placement Programme of Newton Fund. (See the full list of recent published work at the bottom of this story)

The workshop has also made a significant contribution to helping researchers develop strong collaborations between Tianjin Normal University, University of Southampton and University of Leicester. In particular, this helped underpin a successful application to establish an International Collaborative Eye Tracking Network (ICETraN) based at Tianjin Normal University. This will involve the Academy of Psychology and Behaviour and departments of Education, Linguistics, and Foreign Language Learning at Tianjin Normal University linked with our respective research groups at the University of Southampton and University of Leicester. This provides a platform for developing collaborations between the institutions, including funding for student and staff exchanges, and will form the basis of further applications for national-level collaborative funding. Please find the List of Published Work at the bottom of the webpage. 

Quotes from Participants

This (Researcher Connect Workshop) increased my knowledge and confidence but also gave me excellent career guidance. As a result of conversations during this workshop I am now developing two new collaborations…  I have also built a new network of researchers who I have been able to ask advice.    -  Dr Helen Breadmore, Research Fellow in Child Development and Education, Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour & Achievement, Coventry University

The workshop was also very helpful in terms of establishing collaborations. From my personal perspective, I met with lots of researchers who are interested in the same topic as I do during the workshop, which broadens my research network in both UK and China. I also had some project ideas with one of the Chinese researchers I met during the workshop, and hopefully, we can have some research collaborations very soon.   - Lili Yu, University of Southampton 

 I thoroughly enjoyed the Research-Link workshop and I think it is one of the best academic workshops I have attended.  The range of talks was very impressive and ensuring that almost all participants gave an oral presentation made it easier to chat to other delegates as you already knew their research interests…  As a direct result of the workshop, another UK delegate and I have started writing a grant application and are hoping to collaborate.  I have been also in contact with some Chinese colleagues already by email.   - Dr Fiona Kyle, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, AFHEA, Lecturer in Language and Communication Science & Programme Director for BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy, City University London 

Researcher Links Workshops bring together early-career researchers from the UK and a partner country to make international connections that can improve the quality of their research. Applications are made on a bi-lateral basis by senior researchers. Once funded, grants are available for early-career researchers in the UK and the country hosting the workshop to attend.