RCUK and the UK Funding Councils provided funding to support the implementation of the Concordat, including a Concordat implementation co-ordinator, based at Universities UK to coordinate activities across the sector during an initial period. From April 2011 Vitae has had responsibility for leading and co-ordinating the future implementation of the Concordat and providing a single point of contact for both research staff career development and the wider Concordat agenda.
The activities of Vitae and the Concordat Strategy Group ensure that the Concordat continues to have considerable visibility with policymakers, senior managers and staff with responsibility for supporting researchers. This is undoubtedly sustaining institutional momentum and commitment for the implementation of its principles.
The high profile launch of the Concordat in 2008 by the then Minister of State for Science and Innovation, followed by many local and regional launch events for both research staff and senior staff, raised initial awareness of the Concordat. Around 60,000 hard copies of the Concordat have been given to institutions to distribute to researchers. Activities to raise awareness of the Concordat and of projects related to implementation of one or more of its principles are on-going.
Knowledge building activity has largely has been through six benchmarking projects agreed by the Concordat Strategy Group in 2009. In addition, Vitae have published or contributed to a series of publications that contribute to our knowledge and understanding of research staff experiences and careers.
Where possible, opportunities have been taken to consolidate the implementation of the aims of the Concordat by aligning it with other initiatives. This approach has been highly effective as the initiatives are mutually reinforcing.
The sharing of practice between institutions, particularly through Vitae's network of regional Hubs, its online databases and events programme has promoted and sustained implementation of the Concordat's principles.
Data show that since the Concordat was signed
recruitment processes have become more open and transparent
the use of fixed term contracts has reduced, although there is less evidence that this is leading to more security of employment
the availability of induction has increased at local and institutional level
there is increased participation in appraisal and review
more research staff report being integrated in their communities and some increase in recognition for their wider contributions
the majority believe their institution is committed to equality and diversity and more institutions are signing up to the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science
research staff on fixed term contracts perceive equal or better fair treatment, compared to those on open contracts.
Alignment of the UK process for the HR Excellence in Research award with institutions' Concordat implementation processes, facilitated by Vitae, has been effective in sustaining implementation. 50 UK institutions had gained the award by January 2012, more than all other European member states combined.
There has been less progress in support for career development, and especially researchers taking personal responsibility. The extent of engagement by research staff in their career development is still disappointingly low, and uneven between and within individual institutions. Institutions also identified the pivotal role of principal investigators to achieve full engagement of researchers and to support their career development.
The recommendations from CROS 2009 and 2011, PIRLS 2011 and the Every Researcher Counts project present a series of recommendations relating to each of the Concordat's principles, which provide a useful road map for institutions.
See further information related to implementation of specific key principles.