The stakeholders of the Concordat

The Concordat has been created for the benefit of the whole research community within the UK to improve the environment and culture within which research is conducted. It will benefit those conducting and managing research, as well as the quality of the research itself.

The aims of the agreement will be realised through implementation of the Principles of the Concordat, which contain expectations for four stakeholder groups, which are defined below.

Researchers

These are defined as individuals whose primary responsibility is to conduct research and who are employed specifically for this purpose by a higher education institution or research institute. Within this group, it is recognised that these staff often have different contract types, levels of training, experience and responsibility, as well as different career expectations and intentions. Disciplinary and institutional context can also mean a broad range of job titles fall within this definition.

There are many other groups of individuals who actively engage in research within institutions and who would be expected to develop their research identity as part of their career progression, including postgraduate researchers, staff on teaching and research or teaching-only contracts, clinicians, professional support staff and technicians.  However, whilst we encourage institutions to apply the benefits of the Concordat to as many of these groups as is feasible, the primary audience for this Concordat remains research staff.  

Where institutions extend the beneficiaries of the Concordat to wider groups of researchers, they should communicate clearly to which groups the Concordat applies, and inform those communities of their rights and obligations.

Managers of researchers

This includes all individuals who have direct line management responsibility for ‘researchers’ as defined above.  These managers will frequently be principal or co-investigators on research grants, although it is recognised that some research staff may be grant-holders and be line-managed by another senior researcher or head of unit.  Where institutions designate other researchers as falling within the Concordat, then the managers / supervisors of these individuals would also be included in this category.  It is also recognised that outside of this group of direct line managers, other staff have management responsibilities that have direct and important influence on the research environment, culture and working conditions. These include heads of faculty, department, unit and research directors, all of whom play a key role in ensuring that centrally agreed policies and practices in support of the Concordat are effectively implemented within their units.  

Institutions

This includes higher education institutions and research institutes, as employers of researchers. There are many different types of institutions with varying missions, profiles and structures, as well as numbers of researchers. Many of the obligations outlined in this document are the direct responsibility of senior management and, ultimately, the governing body.  However, it is recognised that within institutions there are different levels of responsibility and it is important that all relevant staff work together to implement the Concordat to drive the necessary change.  It is also important to recognise the collective responsibilities of the wider research community for instilling and maintaining a supportive and stimulating research culture and environment.  Staff within this wider community play essential roles in activities such as mentoring researchers and being positive role models.

Funders

This includes any organisation or institution which provides funding for public or private research, either through direct funding for research or through block funding. It is recognised that there are different types of funders within the research system with different missions and objectives, including public sector funders, charities, industry and businesses. Some universities and research institutes fund research directly, and may also be designated as ‘funders’. Given this diversity, different funders will need to consider how best to meet, or work towards, the responsibilities outlined in the relevant sections of this Concordat.  Some responsibilities may need to be adapted or, occasionally, might not be relevant or appropriate to particular funders.

Other stakeholders

There is a range of other stakeholders interested in the successful implementation of the Concordat Principles, including the academies, professional bodies, professional networks, representative and membership organisations, and researcher associations and networks. These organisations all have a role to play in achieving the aims of the Concordat and promoting its benefits across their communities.  Many of these stakeholders may also wish to determine which of the Principles, and associated obligations, are particularly relevant for their organisation, and set out how they will work towards meeting these.

 

Stakeholder obligations under the Concordat Principles

Environment and culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture

Institutions must:

  1. Ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the Concordat.
  2. Ensure that institutional policies and practices relevant to researchers are inclusive, equitable and transparent, and are well-communicated to researchers and their managers.
  3. Promote good mental health and wellbeing through, for example, the effective management of workloads and people, and effective policies and practice for tackling discrimination, bullying and harassment, including providing appropriate support for those reporting issues.
  4. Ensure that managers of researchers are effectively trained in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing and mental health.
  5. Ensure researchers and their managers are aware of, and act in accordance with, the highest standards of research integrity.
  6. Regularly review and report on the quality of the research environment and culture, including seeking feedback from researchers, and use the outcomes to improve institutional practices. 

Funders must:

  1. Include requirements which promote equitable, inclusive and positive research cultures and environments, in relevant funding calls, terms and conditions, grant reporting, and policies.
  2. Consider how funding opportunities and policies can facilitate different patterns and ways of working, and promote the wellbeing and mental health of researchers.
  3. Ensure that funding call requirements and selection processes offer equality of opportunity between different groups of researchers, recognise personal contexts, and promote positive research cultures and working conditions.

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Undertake relevant training and development opportunities related to equality, diversity and inclusion, and put this into practice in their work.
  2. Ensure that they and their researchers act in accordance with the highest standards of research integrity and professional conduct.
  3. Promote a healthy working environment that supports researchers’ wellbeing and mental health, including reporting and addressing incidents of discrimination, bullying and harassment, and poor research integrity.
  4. Consider fully, in accordance with statutory rights and institutional policies, flexible working requests and other appropriate arrangements to support researchers.
  5. Engage with opportunities to contribute to policy development aimed at creating a more positive research environment and culture within their institution.

Researchers must:

  1. Actively contribute to the development and maintenance of a supportive, fair and inclusive research culture and be a supportive colleague, particularly to newer researchers and students.
  2. Ensure they act in accordance with employer and funder policies related to research integrity, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
  3. Take positive action towards maintaining their wellbeing and mental health.
  4. Use available mechanisms to report staff who fail to meet the expected standards of behaviour, particularly in relation to discrimination, harassment, bullying, and research misconduct.
  5. Consider opportunities to contribute to policy development aimed at creating a more positive research environment and culture within their institution.

Employment 

Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions

Institutions must:

  1. Ensure open, transparent and merit-based recruitment, which attracts excellent researchers, using fair and inclusive selection and appointment practices.
  2. Provide an effective induction, ensuring that researchers are integrated into the community and are aware of policies and practices relevant to their position.
  3. Provide clear and transparent merit-based recognition, reward and promotion pathways that recognise the full range of researchers’ contributions, and the diversity of personal circumstances.
  4. Provide effective line and project management training opportunities for managers of researchers, heads of department and equivalent.
  5. Ensure that excellent people management is championed throughout the organisation and embedded in institutional culture, through annual appraisals, transparent promotion criteria, and workload allocation.
  6. Seek to improve job security for researchers, for example through more effective redeployment processes and greater use of open-ended contracts, and report on progress.
  7. Consider researchers and their managers as key stakeholders within the institution and provide them with formal opportunities to engage with relevant organisational policy and decision-making.

Funders must:

  1. Include requirements which support the improvement of working conditions for researchers, in relevant funding calls, terms and conditions, grant reporting, and policies.
  2. Review the impact of relevant funding call requirements on researchers’ employment, particularly in relation to career progression and lack of job security.
  3. Support institutions to develop policies and frameworks to promote sustainable employment arrangements and enhance job security, and provide opportunities for career progression.
  4. Consider the balance of their relevant funding streams in providing access to research funding and its impact at all career levels.

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Undertake relevant training and development opportunities so that they can manage researchers effectively and fulfil their duty of care.
  2. Familiarise themselves, and work in accordance with, relevant employment legislation and codes of practice, institutional policies, and the terms and conditions of grant funding.
  1. Commit to, and evidence, the inclusive, equitable and transparent recruitment, promotion, and reward of researchers.
  1. Actively engage in regular constructive performance management with their researchers.
  2. Engage with opportunities to contribute to relevant policy development within their institution.

Researchers must:

  1. Ensure that they work in accordance with, institutional policies, procedures and employment legislation, as well as the requirements of their funder.
  2. Understand their reporting obligations and responsibilities.
  3. Positively engage with performance management discussions and reviews with their managers.
  4. Recognise and act on their role as key stakeholders within their institution and the wider academic community.

Professional and career development

Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential

Institutions must:

  1. Provide opportunities, structured support, encouragement and time for researchers to engage in a minimum of 10 days professional development pro rata per year, recognising that researchers will pursue careers across a wide range of employment sectors.
  2. Provide training, structured support, and time for managers to engage in meaningful career development reviews with their researchers.
  3. Ensure that researchers have access to professional advice on career management, across a breadth of careers.
  4. Provide researchers with opportunities, and time, to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills.
  5. Recognise that moving between, and working across, employment sectors can bring benefits to research and researchers, and support opportunities for researchers to experience this.
  6. Monitor, and report on, the engagement of researchers and their managers with professional development activities, and researcher career development reviews.

Funders must:

  1. Incorporate specific professional development requirements in relevant funding calls, terms and conditions, grant reporting, and policies.  This should include researchers’ engagement in a minimum of 10 days’ professional development pro rata per year, and evidence of effective career development planning.
  2. Embed the Concordat Principles and researcher development into research assessment strategies and processes.
  3. Acknowledge that a large proportion of the researchers they fund will move on to careers beyond academia, and consider how they can encourage and support this within their remit.  

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Engage in regular career development discussions with their researchers, including holding a career development review at least annually.
  2. Support researchers in exploring and preparing for a diversity of careers, for example, through the use of mentors and careers professionals, training, and secondments.
  3. Allocate a minimum of 10 days pro rata, per year for their researchers to engage with professional development, supporting researchers to balance the delivery of their research and their own professional development.
  4. Identify opportunities, and allow time (in addition to the 10 days professional development allowance), for their researchers to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills, and provide appropriate credit and recognition for their endeavours.  
  5. Engage in leadership and management training to enhance their personal effectiveness, and to promote a positive attitude to professional development.

Researchers must:

  1. Take ownership of their career, identifying opportunities to work towards career goals, including engaging in a minimum of 10 days professional development pro rata per year.
  2. Explore and prepare for a range of employment options across different sectors, such as by making use of mentors, careers professionals, training and secondments.
  3. Maintain an up-to-date professional career development plan and build a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their experience, that can be used to support job applications.
  4. Positively engage in career development reviews with their managers.
  5. Seek out, and engage with, opportunities to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills.
  6. Consider opportunities to develop their awareness and experience of the wider research system through, for example, knowledge exchange, policy development, public engagement and commercialisation.