- Previous events
- Vitae researcher development conference 2008
- Workshop programme NEW UPDATE December 08
- A8/B8 Workshop summary and outcomes
A8/B8 Workshop summary and outcomes
Research staff strand
What will the Concordat mean in practice?
Dr Candy Hassall, Basic Careers Portfolio Manager, Wellcome Trust and Dr Sara Williams, Training and Development Manager, Cardiff University
This workshop discussed the implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers which was launched in June 2008 and builds on the 1996 Concordat and the European Charter and Code for researchers. It considered what the Concordat will (and should) mean in practice for a range of stakeholders at both UK and institutional levels, and what staff supporting researchers can do to help maximise its impact.
The session covered:
- an update on the sector's 2008-09 implementation plans for the new Concordat
- consideration of individual institutions' progress to date and plans for the future
- discussion of how participants can contribute to the effective implementation of the Concordat both within their institutions and beyond.
The new Concordat provides a set of principles for the future support and management of research careers and a clear statement of the signatories' collective expectations for the support and management of researchers. In contrast to the 1996 Concordat, it also places emphasis on the responsibility of researchers themselves.
The Concordat Implementation Plan comprises:
- a steering group (appointment winter 2008)
- staff resource (appointment of co-ordinator autumn 2008)
- benchmarking (study to be commissioned winter 2008)
- the Vitae programme
- website (fully developed by end of 2008)
- ongoing events and promotion by the Concordat signatories and supporters.
The aim of the benchmarking study will be to assist the effective implementation of the Concordat and to measure progress. Ideally, existing sources of information will be used, but some new data may need to be collected in order to improve the basis of the study and enable it to be mapped against the Concordat principles.
Participants discussed how the initial awareness raising and benchmarking activity would prove essential in the successful implementation of the Concordat - especially as the benchmarking activity should be used to identify areas where early activity should be focused, as well as providing the sector with baseline data for comparisons across time. It was noted that some HEIs have already organised events around the launch of the Concordat. It was agreed that there is an urgent need for research into career trajectories to dispel some ‘urban myths' among researchers and colleagues. Only looking at researchers who leave (exit interviews) was misleading: those who stay should also be monitored. Entry interviews are also needed to build up clearer pictures of career paths.
Suggestions for effective implementation of the Concordat within institutions included the following.
- Engage different stakeholder groups by targeting - one size does not fit all. Find out what motivates different groups. Getting the Vice-Chancellor on board first is key, and heads of departments are an important group
- Balance carrot and stick measures - eg approaching the development of researchers from the perspective of building an institution's research capacity, whilst emphasising that adherence to the Concordat is a condition of funding for UK Research Councils and Wellcome Trust
- Bring different stakeholders together within institutions in order to improve understanding across groups. These individuals could then go on to act as ‘Concordat champions' within each group.
Participants identified the urgent need for improved information to support effective benchmarking and subsequent monitoring. Recommendations for the Concordat Implementation Steering Group comprised:
- the need to improve the quality and accessibility of existing data sources, eg HESA destination data
- building up a clear picture of the way that the employment of research staff is structured, particularly with reference to the way that posts are funded, and to track over time how individual researchers are funded, eg single/multiple sources, use of local bridging funding between external contracts, and so on.
- as part of the benchmarking study, devise and disseminate standard ‘scripts' (tailored for different groups of researchers) for interviews on entry, ‘staying' within an HEI and exit, so that data can be coded, anonymised and pooled. Currently data cannot be pooled as it is not classified consistently.
View the A8/B8 presentation slides
Comment on this page.