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Support for Research Staff

We are committed to supporting the personal, professional and career development of our community of research staff at Brunel University London. The University is a signatory to the UK Researcher Development Concordat

UK Researcher Development Concordat

The Researcher Development Concordat was published in September 2019 (a revised version of the original Concordat from 2008) to drive forward systemic change and improve the research environment and opportunities for the development of researchers. Brunel became a signatory in the same year.

The Concordat outlines a set of obligations relating to three core principles – (1) Environment and Culture, (2) Employment, and (3) Professional and Career Development. Central to all three areas are issues of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), with obligations outlined for four main stakeholder groups; researchers, managers of researchers, institutions, and funders.

Concordat 2019 – Principles

Environment and Culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture

Healthy working environments attract and develop a more diverse workforce, impact positively on individual and institutional performance, and enhance staff engagement. 

This Principle recognises that a proactive and collaborative approach is required between all stakeholders, to create and develop positive environments and cultures in which all researchers can flourish and achieve their full potential. 

Employment

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

Provision of good employment conditions for researchers has positive impacts on researcher wellbeing, the attractiveness of research careers, and research excellence.

This Principle recognises the importance of fair, transparent and merit-based recruitment, progression and promotion, effective performance management, and a good work-life balance. All stakeholders need to address long-standing challenges around insecruity of employment and career progression, ensuring equality of experience and opportunity, irrespective of background, contract type and personal circumstances.

Professional and Career Development

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

Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse global research environment and employment market.

This Principle recognises the importance of continuous professional and career development, particularly as researchers pursue a wide range of careers.

Obligations specified for:

Institutions / Funders / Managers / Researchers

A full copy of the Concordat (2019) can be found here.

At Brunel, we are committed to continually making improvements for research staff and researchers, and to delivering the principles of the Concordat. Our current Concordat (2024-2027) Action plan includes:

  • Brunel Research Culture Seed Fund – a fund for Research Staff and Technicians to lead projects that contribute to fostering an inclusive and collaborative research culture at Brunel;
  • Partnership between research fellows in the Brunel Innovation Centre (BIC) and Brunel Composites Centre (BCC) in Cambridge and research fellows on campus to increase networking and exchange of ideas among peers; 
  • An annual Research Staff Conference to celebrate postdoctoral researchers and research fellows from across the University, connect them with each other and provide them with development opportunities (fellowship and grant applications, leadership development, wellbeing and more);
  • Drive up strategic work with PIs and Managers of Researchers to enhance their leadership capabilities and support for research staff.

EU HR Excellence in Research Award

The EU HR Excellence in Research Award (HR EiR), recognises an institution’s commitment to meeting the principles of the Researcher Concordat.

Brunel University first achieved the award in 2011 (originally aligned to previous concordat for the career development of researchers 2008). It acknowledges our activity and plans to improve support for researchers and their development. This work is coordinated by the Graduate School, and the Concordat is a standing item on the Environment and Research Culture Sub-committee into which the previous Concordat Implementation Group (CIG) was subsumed in 2024.

The University participates in an external review of its actions and planning in this area every two years as a condition of retaining the HREiR award. Successful reviews have been undertaken in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Our most recent reports and action plans, outlining key achievements and progress made can be viewed here. Our next review is in January 2024. 

Personal, Professional and Career Development 

Training and development opportunities are offered in a variety of places within the University, with the Graduate School taking a particular lead in supporting research staff development. A dedicated Careers Consultant provides tailored support for Brunel researchers through one-to-one appointments, career development workshops and events to explore career options.

Graduate School activities for research staff include:

  • An annual Research Staff Conference;
  • Leadership in Action, a competitive leadership development programme specifically for postdoctoral researchers that runs twice a year;
  • Opportunities for personal and career coaching and mentoring, advice on fellowship and job applications;
  • Networking opportunities through the Research Staff Association and Research Staff Networking Lunches;
  • Collaboration and networking opportunities through sector-wide workshops and events.

Additional training opportunities can be found internally through Organisational Development and the Academic Professional Development Unit

Researcher Development Framework

The national Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF), developed by and for researchers – describes the knowledge, competencies and attributes of highly skilled researchers. Our Researcher Development Programme (RDP) provides training that reflects the RDF, and researchers are encouraged to make use of the extensive information and resources available through Vitae about this and other aspects of career development. It can be used to help you identify your current strengths and provides a framework for your continued personal, professional and career development. 

Research Culture Seed Fund for Research Staff and Technicians

Open to Research Staff and Technicians, the Brunel Research Culture Seed Fund (BRCSF) is to propose, lead and embed projects that contribute to fostering an inclusive and collaborative research culture at Brunel, linked to the wider external research culture agenda. The projects can (and are encouraged to be) broad, encompassing a vast array of themes and initiatives as long as they can demonstrate added value to Brunel research culture.

 

The BRCSF aims at improving the research culture at the University. Ongoing issues such as barriers to equality, diversity and inclusion, narrow definitions of success, uncertain career pathways, a lack of collegiality and collaboration, unhealthy competition culture and more, all pose a great risk to the research environment in which we work. They also pose a barrier to attracting and retaining talent as well as protecting individual wellbeing.

 

Applications to the fund will be assessed by the extent to which the activities are likely to enhance Brunel’s research culture and have the potential to be rolled out in other areas. The fund will provide support for one-off projects but, ideally, those projects are aligned to broader purposes and can serve as examples of best practice that could be rolled out in other entities across the University.

 

Application Guidance

Application Form

 

Conference Travel Fund for Early Career Researchers

The Conference Travel Fund for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) is open to research staff (on ‘research only’ contracts) within 8 years of their PhD award. 

It has been created to enable ECRs to attend national and international conferences (both in-person and virtual). It provides you with the opportunity to present your research, gather valuable feedback and network with your peers and others, which is an important part of your personal, professional and career development. You can apply for funds covering conference fees, travel, accommodation and sustenance of up to £800.

Please contact Sarah Benbow and Nicholas Rousseau-Williams in the Graduate School who will be able to advise you on how to pay the conference fee, book travel and accommodation, and reclaim funds. Please do not book anything until you have spoken to them, as you may not be able to reclaim that money. There are Brunel policies in place when it comes to booking travel and reclaiming expenses by which we need to adhere.

Application Guidance

Application Form