Your responsibilities as a researcher

Both the European Charter for Researchers and the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (Concordat) include researchers’ responsibilities relating to ethical research.

The European Charter sets out the following responsibilities for researchers covering:

  • Research freedom
  • Ethical principles
  • Professional responsibility
  • Professional attitude
  • Contractual and legal obligations
  • accountability
  • Good practice in research
  • Dissemination, exploitation of results
  • Public engagement
  • Relationship with supervisors (and managers)
  • Supervision and managerial duties
  • Continuing professional development.

Principle five of the UK Concordat sets out the following responsibilities for researchers:

  • Researchers are employed to advance knowledge. You have a responsibility to develop the capacity for “independent, honest and critical thought” throughout your career
  • Researchers have a responsibility to communicate their research, to collaborate with others where appropriate and to transfer and exploit knowledge for the benefit of your employer, the economy and society as a whole
  • Researchers have a responsibility to behave honestly and ethically in the course of their research. More detailed guidance on research ethics is available
  • The ultimate responsibility for the personal and professional development of researchers lies with the individual researcher.

Researchers’ responsibilities relate closely to the four domains of Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF). The RDF was developed by and for researchers and was designed to develop more effective and successful researchers by providing them with a framework for their professional development and career management.

Although institutions are expected to support research staff in their career development, you are responsible for planning your career and identifying the training and experience that you will need to help you get where you want to be.

You have a responsibility to communicate your aspirations. Your colleagues, your line manager and your mentor can help you only if you are willing to talk about your career ambitions. Most institutions now provide mentoring, performance reviews and appraisals and professional development reviews to create a formal structure for these conversations to take place.

Once agreed, your line manager and your institution should ensure you have opportunities to develop your capabilities, knowledge and independence.