The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers has had significant impact across the UK higher education sector, despite being a voluntary instrument. A review of implementation of its principles over the three years following its launch is published today by Vitae. The report details funders' responses, researchers' views, integration into institutional policy and infrastructure as well as the extent and depth of practical implementation. It identifies some remaining challenges.
The 2008 Concordat aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of higher education research careers in the UK by providing an unambiguous statement of the expectations and responsibilities of researchers and their managers, employers and funders. This three-year report is in line with the Concordat's principle on implementation and review and in order to minimise the burden on institutions has made use of existing evidence, including results from the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) of research staff and the new Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS). A further rich source of data has been the implementation plans submitted by institutions for the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research Award.
There is much evidence of progress over three years such as increased participation of research staff in appraisal and review and an increase in awareness of the importance of professional development. The extent and depth of implementation has been greatest for the principles on recruitment and selection, recognition and value, and equality and diversity: all themes where legislation or specific national guidelines for employment practice have been put into place. Amongst the challenges remaining are to promote more active engagement of research staff in professional development, to ensure principal investigators are informed, confident and actively engaging in the career development of their researchers and to provide positive drivers, for participation in development opportunities and more outward facing activities.
As part of an ongoing leading role in promoting implementation, Vitae has recently expanded and updated online content related to the Concordat, which is now integrated into our website. The new section includes links to all related documents including the new report plus relevant policy guidelines and legislation.