Nearly one year old…how did you find the Hive?

Back in July we invited researchers to take part in an online survey and a focus group to find out what you think about the Hive and how you use it.  We offered all the survey respondents the chance to win one of three Amazon voucher prizes of £20 and hopefully the winners have now received their notification email and are happily spending their money.

Thank you to the 72 doctoral researchers who completed the survey and the eight who took part in the focus group.  Your feedback has been really useful and is now being considered.

So what did you tell us?

Who’s using the Hive?

  • 90% of respondents are doctoral students, the remainder are research staff, faculty or visitors (and early on the odd undergraduate managed to sneak in until we fixed the door entry system)
  • Media, Film and Music and History of Art, History and Philosophy researchers are among the most frequent users and turn up most at events, although Engineers are increasing their use
  • 10% of respondents use the Hive daily, 17% weekly and a further 11% monthly.  60% use it either less than once a month or have never used it – which means we’ve still got some work to do in ensuring all doctoral researchers know it’s here

Why do you use the Hive?

  • Lack of space elsewhere, the convenience of books and other Library facilities and, especially during the building works, the general quietness and chance to meet other researchers
  • Reasons for not using the Hive ranged from having an alternative space elsewhere in your department or at home, to living too far away or not knowing about it

Your views on the space

  • You like it and are grateful for a dedicated area for doctoral researchers
  • Some feel it shows that the University values our research
  • Most people would still use the Hive even if offered working space in their department
  • Some draw energy from the proximity of other researchers working alongside them (particularly when you are feeling unproductive yourself)
  • The door scanner can be a bit erratic
  • The room temperature is hard to control

Where did you go before?

  • Many used the Library already or office or other space in your departments, but a significant number simply worked from home, with one person saying they never came onto campus

How do you use the Hive?

  • Almost half of respondents use the Hive for reading or working on PCs/laptops
  • About a fifth report using meeting rooms, meeting other researchers or holding informal discussions
  • A small number attend events and a third of respondents had not yet used the Hive
  • Some users were unhappy at the space being used for events which meant they either couldn’t access it or had to vacate and suggested regularising the times when such events might take place.  Others felt that a couple of hours of non-availability wasn’t a problem

What facilities would you like?

  • The three main things identified are more PCs, printers in the Hive, drinks (water dispenser or coffee machine)
  • Other suggestions cover lockers, laptop locks, better chairs and ventilation and more consistent Wifi access

What do you know about the existing facilities/resources?

  • Half of all respondents know who the Scholars are, and of them, two-thirds have spoken to or met one of the Scholars
  • Two-thirds of respondents know how to book one of the meeting rooms, with most learning this from the website or a member of staff/Scholar
  • 72% or respondents have not yet attended an event in the Hive


  • Three-quarters of respondents are aware of the Hive website, under a quarter know the email address but only a handful are aware of this blog and our Twitter presence

Being part of the research community

  • 50% of respondents said the Hive had made them feel part of the research community at Sussex either a little or a lot
  • Responses to what would make researchers feel more engaged with the community focused mainly on more events that bring doctoral researchers together, with a significant number suggesting social as well as professional activities
  • Other suggestions featured a specific doctoral school building, more personal effort to engage from the individual and several respondents wished for more activity from their own departments

Other feedback

  • The majority of comments are positive ones mentioning appreciation for a dedicated space, although some people’s desire for a space for discussion/to make noise is in direct contradiction to the wishes of others for a quiet space
  • A couple of comments suggest that not all doctoral researchers are aware of the Hive  – and that more marketing may be needed
  • Suggestions for better chairs and PCs

What happens now?
We’ve written up an evaluation report for the Library and Doctoral School, including recommendations based on your feedback.  There are one or two things which are unlikely to happen as they don’t fit with Library policy eg coffee machines (sorry), but many of your other suggestions are under consideration.  For example, during the year we have already responded to requests for a Mac, a projector and a smartboard in the meeting room, a rolling noticboard eg the plasma screen (if you want to put info on there just ask one of the Scholars or email the Hive), and we’ve also already raised the issue of providing computer chairs rather than standard desk ones.

Recommendations to be considered

  • More interaction between the Scholars and the Hive users – a social event at the beginning of term to encourage new doctoral researchers to visit the Hive and also to help researchers and the new Scholars to get to know one another
  • Regular Scholar/Hive users meetings to provide more regular feedback to the Library and Doctoral School on user ideas
  • Ongoing Scholar shifts in the Hive so that they are available weekly to support researchers
  • A Hive user presentation series where researchers get a chance to present their work to a group of peers
  • More peer roundtable events like the ‘Writing your thesis’ and ‘Being an AT’ sessions held already
  • More external speaker sessions (we’re already in touch with SAGE re a publisher coming to talk about publishing in journals)
  • Change some of the sofas for more flexible furniture (eg low level chairs and tables)
  • More PCs and better chairs
  • Make this blog open to researchers, so everyone can post relevant content
  • Carry out further publicity, especially in those departments whose researchers have little or no presence in the Hive
  • Manage the balance, which seems to have been achieved, between the Hive being quiet enough to work in, but also offering people a space for discussion and events

So thanks once again to all who took part and if you have any other ideas or suggestions please speak to one of the Scholars, email or put a note in the suggestion box.


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