Concordat: researchers’ responsibilities

‘Principle 5: Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning’

The picture suggests that significantly more career development opportunities are opening to research staff, so the onus is on researchers to take up those opportunities and to assert their need for and right to support.

Researchers' attitudes to professional development

Careers in Research Online Surveys (CROS) results show that:

  • Significant numbers of research staff who responded to the survey take on wider activities and responsibilities beyond their immediate research role, such as managing a budget, teaching, involvement in institutional committees, knowledge transfer or public engagement activities
  • between 2009 and 2013 there were slight increases in reports of engagement in these ‘wider' activities
  • the majority of respondents have either consulted their principal investigator or research leader in relation to training and development needs (72%) and long term career planning (64%), or would be happy to do so (2011 results)
  • By 2013, the proportion of respondents with a career plan was over half, slightly more than in 2009
  • Around 30% of research staff responding to the survey have consulted a careers adviser about long term career planning

The role of research leaders

  • Up to half of research leaders who responded to the Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS) feel that it is very important for research staff to have wider experiences, and very few think that they are unimportant in helping research staff to become future research leaders
  • Over half of respondents to PIRLS say that they are confident about giving career development advice and in PIRLS 2013 many rated nurturing researchers’ careers as one of the most important behaviours of excellent research leaders  

A key action for the sector is to continue cultural change towards widespread understanding that researchers themselves need to take responsibility for their own career and transferable skills development. To do this requires not just the engagement of research staff but the acknowledgement, by research leaders, of the importance and value of providing the time for research staff to do so.

Research staff associations

  • Research staff associations are increasing in number rapidly, with 53 identified in 26 different institutions when surveyed in 2010
  • Vitae have supported the formation and continued activities of the UK Research Staff Association and established an annual conference for researchers leading or interested in forming research staff organisations
  • At the third Vitae research staff conference, which ran in November 2011, it was clear that there has been an increase in research associations' engagement in the Concordat, with many examples of what is happening at institutional level to use policy drivers to engage researchers
  • The Vitae Researcher Development Framework has been well received: research staff associations can see the value of the Framework in engaging and empowering researchers and increasing their professionalism

‘A fulfilling career for every researcher’ - UKRSA vision