How To Manage Research Staff Who Resist Supporting Students

Man not helping woman

Managing a researcher who is resistant to teaching or supporting university students can be a delicate situation for any academic manager.

While the primary responsibility of a researcher is to conduct high-quality research, universities are also expected to provide students with high-quality education and support.

So, how can we manage researchers who do not want to engage in teaching or student support?

1. Clarify expectations

The first step in managing such a situation is to clarify expectations.

Managers should communicate clearly with researchers about their role and responsibilities. This includes any teaching or student support duties required of them. 

It’s important to communicate the consequences of not meeting these expectations to ensure that researchers understand the gravity of the situation.

2. Offer incentives

Managers might also consider offering incentives to encourage researchers to engage in teaching or student support.

Additional resources for research projects may encourage researchers to take on additional responsibilities. Universities can also provide training to help researchers develop the skills needed to engage with students.

For example, workshops, mentoring or coaching can help researchers develop their teaching skills.

3. Assign a mentor

Another way to manage researchers who are reluctant to teach or support students is by assigning them a mentor.

The mentor can guide the researcher through the teaching and mentoring process, provide support, and give advice on how to interact with students effectively.

4. Be creative

It’s important to recognise that researchers have their strengths, and teaching or student support may not be one of them.

Therefore, managers could find other ways for researchers to contribute to the university’s goals. For example, researchers can collaborate with other faculty members, engage in community outreach programmes, or participate in university committees.


Managing researchers who are reluctant to teach or support students requires a thoughtful approach.

It’s essential to communicate expectations and consequences clearly, consider the use of incentives, provide training, assign a mentor, and recognise researchers’ strengths.

A constructive approach to the situation can help maintain a positive relationship between the researcher and their manager while still ensuring that students receive the support they need to achieve their academic goals.