Most of research staff are positive about their work-life balance, new Vitae report shows


Launched at the Vitae conference 5 September 2013, the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) 2013 UK aggregate results, published by Vitae, presents the views and experiences of research staff employed in higher education and how these have changed since CROS was first run in 2009 to inform progress in implementing the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

68 UK higher education institutions participated in 2013, 50% higher than in 2011. 8216 research staff responded, representing a response rate of about 26%. CROS is now established as an important evaluation and enhancement tool for UK institutions in reviewing their implementation of the Concordat principles and providing evidence for the HR Excellence in Research Award, Athena Swan and the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Institutions continue to show progress with respect to all the Concordat principles, particularly in relation to recruitment and support, aspects of recognition and value, and support and career development.

Key findings

  • Most respondents are positive about their work-life balance, integration and recognition by their institution for their research activity.
  • Participation in staff appraisal continues to increase (60%), although it is still lower than principal investigator participation (80%) recorded in PIRLS 2013, to change since 2011 in the proportion of research staff employed on fixed-term contracts
  • Some respondents do not believe they are treated fairly in comparison with other higher education staff, particularly in promotion and progression.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents claim that they take ownership of their career development, with significant enthusiasm for wider experiences such as work placements or internships.
  • Three quarters of research staff respondents aspire to a career in higher education and around two thirds expect to achieve this.
  • The small group of research staff who have had multiple, short-term contracts and/or long service through fixed-term contracts feel less valued and have less positive feelings about their employer, job and career.
  • The extent of engagement of research staff in teaching and lecturing, and other supervisory and management activity is significant.
  • A minority of female respondents are more likely to perceive unfairness of treatment in relation to gender and more generally career progression and promotion, reward and participation in decision-making processes. A trend which continues in female principal investigators (PIRLS 2013).

Dr Janet Metcalfe, Chair and Head, said:

‘The engagement of more institutions and research staff in CROS 2013 provides valuable and robust insights into the experiences of research staff to inform institutions' activities relating to the implementation of the Concordat principles and evidence of progress for the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research Award.’

More information about the CROS project can found here or about Prinicipal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS), 2013 here.