- UK policy
- Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers
- Implementation: consolidation activities
Implementation: consolidation activities
Opportunities have been taken to consolidate the implementation of the Concordat's principles by aligning with other initiatives where these are mutually reinforcing.
The new Research Excellence Framework (REF) presented an opportunity to reinforce the importance of implementing the principles of the Concordat in improving the research environment for research staff. A letter to vice-chancellors from the Chair of the Concordat Strategy Group encouraging institutional participation in CROS and PIRLS stressed the relationship between the Concordat and the Research Excellence Framework. The development of the REF recognises the importance of developing researchers.
Responses to the consultations on the Research Excellence Framework in 2009 from the Concordat Strategy Group and Vitae, prepared in conjunction with Vitae Research Staff Development Advisory Group, stressed the importance of the Concordat and instruments such as CROS. Draft panel guidance on the research environment element of the REF makes explicit references to evidence and indicators of the implementation of the Concordat and ‘how the unit [of assessment] has been developing the research of early career researchers and support for integrating them into a wider, supportive research culture’.
The research environment element of the REF makes explicit references to the Concordat and requires institutions to evidence their support for the development of researchers and academic staff.
In January 2010 the European Commission agreed a mechanism by which UK institutions could apply for the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research award based on implementation of the Concordat. The mechanism builds upon the approach outlined in the European HR Strategy for Researchers and requires publication of an acceptable implementation plan, that implementation progress is self-assessed at least every 2 years and submission to an external evaluation every fourth year.
The 2009 survey of institutions’ responses to the Concordat provided a catalyst for UK institutions to apply for the HR Excellence in Research award. Through the survey, Vitae identified early adopters of the Concordat and encouraged them to apply for the award. The review of institutional applications is undertaken by a sub-group of the Concordat Strategy Group, and includes a representative from the European Commission. By January 2012, 50 UK institutions had gained the award, more than the rest of Europe combined.
‘There’s huge added benefits [to gaining the HR Excellence in Research award]. We’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet got the badge to do so…It will mean greater visibility for the University at European level…Without a doubt, internationally, we will recruit better researchers as an outcome.’
HR Excellence in Research UK award holder
As part of its implementation strategy for the Concordat, HEFCE, supported by other UK Funding Bodies, funded Vitae to raise awareness and develop materials and resources in relation to equality and diversity for research staff through the Every Researcher Counts project. The resulting network of over 80 ‘champions’ was built within UK institutions. A suite of new materials and resources targeted at principal investigators was launched at a national event in October 2011.
Vitae agreed to host the leadership development for principal investigators web section, developed by the University of Nottingham with input from six other institutions and from Vitae, Research Councils UK, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Association of Research Managers and Administrators and Universities UK. The project, funded by the HEFCE Leadership, Governance and Management fund, provides online resources for new and aspiring principal investigators.
The establishment of the UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA) provides research staff with a collective voice and represents the interests and views of research staff in interactions with relevant national bodies, providing input on policy affecting research staff and informing research staff of relevant policy issues. The UKRSA has undertaken research into the impact of research staff associations and a guide to research staff associations. They are currently reviewing the availability of research fellowships.
Since the launch of the Concordat there has been strong growth in the number of local research staff associations. It gives an indication that some researchers are taking responsibility for acting on professional development in line with the Concordat's principles. The proportion of respondents to CROS who have at least some knowledge of the Concordat was 57% in 2011.