A refreshed Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers – known as the Researcher Development Concordat – has established the necessary conditions for researchers to flourish and help deliver the UK’s economic and industrial strategies.
Launched today at the Universities UK (UUK) Annual Members' Conference by Prof Julia Buckingham CBE, Chair of the Concordat to Strategy Group (CSG), Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London, and the new President of UUK, this renewed covenant will support improvements in the research environment and opportunities for professional development for researchers across the sector, clearly setting out the respective responsibilities of researchers, managers of researchers, institutions and funders.
The result of a thorough review, consultation and drafting process, the Concordat has received over 1000 contributions from researchers, research funders and research organisations from across the sector. All organisations with an interest in the career development of researchers will now be able to sign the Concordat and many members of the CSG have already committed to the Principles by signing as of today’s launch, including Cancer Research UK, UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome, and the UK Research Staff Association (UKRSA).
By signing, organisations commit to producing “an annual report to their governing body or equivalent authority, which includes their strategic objectives, measures of success, implementation plan and progress, which subsequently is publicly available”, amongst other responsibilities. The Concordat also acknowledges signatories’ vital role in “collectively engaging” with systemic challenges, including “seeking ways to provide more security of employment for researchers, such as, through reducing the use of fixed, particularly short term, contracts, providing bridging facilities, and flexible criteria for maternity and paternity benefits”
Prof Julia Buckingham CBE, said: “This publication of the Researcher Development Concordat represents a significant milestone for the higher education sector. It resets the bar and provides fresh impetus for progress over the next 5 to 10 years towards the long-term ambition of driving systemic change and creating the healthy and supportive culture needed to ensure our researchers are given every opportunity to thrive.
“The sector will have collective responsibility to uphold the Principles of the Concordat and I hope all organisations with an interest in the career development of researchers will sign up.”
Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Developing our dedicated, talented and ambitious researchers is essential to generating new ideas and new knowledge.
“The revised concordat reaffirms our collective commitment to providing the very best career support and is part of our wider responsibility to continuously strengthen research and innovation culture.
“Creating a culture of integrity and respect will enable the very best research and innovation to flourish, ensure the UK can continue to grow and attract talented individuals and help maintain public trust in our work.”
The Concordat calls for “shared responsibility across the wider academic and professional communities”, including through specific expectations for researchers and their managers, as well as for institutions and funders. For example, institutions and managers of researchers are expected to provide researchers with “opportunities, and time, to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills” as well as researchers themselves being expected to “seek out, and engage with” these opportunities.
Drs Anjali Shah and Alison Tidy, Co-Chairs of the UK Research Staff Association, said: “Researchers welcome the publication of the revised Researcher Development Concordat because it sets out expectations for all key parties to together create the more supportive and inclusive culture necessary for conducting excellent research. We particularly appreciate the expectation of time and opportunities for researchers to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills, which should support their success in a wide range of careers.”
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