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Researcher Development Concordat: a pathway to enhance researchers’ career progression


A blog post written by Dr Paraskevi Goggolidou and Dr Wen Wang to introduce The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and what the University has been doing in relation to it.

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, usually referred to as the Researcher Development Concordat, provides an agreement between four stakeholder groups (researchers, managers of researchers, institutions and funders) so as to support and enhance the career and employment future of researchers in UK higher education.

The Concordat is based on three key principles: professional and career development, employment and environment and culture. Its key aim is to benefit the whole research community in the UK and to advance and reform the research environment and culture in UK research institutions.

The Concordat aims to address the systemic challenges that may act as barriers for research and impede the stakeholders’ progress. For this purpose, signatories to the Concordat are inspired to cooperatively look for approaches to improve employment security for researchers, address complicated and challenging issues regarding employment security, support the researchers’ careers and collect and disseminate data on career paths and destinations for researchers. It is important to note that the definition of a researcher concerns an individual who has got research as their primary responsibility and it has been employed by higher education and research institutions for this purpose. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the benefits of the Concordat cannot also be applied to people who actively engage in research via diverse pathways, as long as research staff remain the primary audience of the Concordat.

Vitae, an organisation committed to the Concordat, provides information on the sector landscape and suggests strategies to support researchers, managers of researchers and funders. As a researcher, you may find the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF 2011) helpful, as it lays out a road map of research career progression in the UK. Vitae shares a lot of great tips on research career development, grant application, networking, even tips to manage your own daily research activities written by other researchers. All the resources are available to support the career development of researchers.

As a manager of a researcher, you can expect that the University is committed to the three key principles of the Concordat. Vitae can provide professional development for your research staff and doctoral candidates, enabling you to provide well-focused guidance for their professional development. For HR specialists, careers advisors and trainers, Vitae can provide practical ways to plan and to provide professional staff development, to empower researchers, to promote the benefits of RDF (2011) and to provide professional networking and support.

University of Wolverhampton has developed seven principles that align with the University’s 2016 strategies (Four Year Review Report) and has laid out its Research Concordat Action plan to achieve the three principles of Concordat. The University has made considerable progress in monitoring the use of fixed-term contracts, enhancing the career progression of researchers at different stages of their career and ensuring inclusivity and diversity (see HEREiR Review of Previous Action Plan).

To co-create an inclusive research environment in line with Concordat Principle, your inputs are highly appreciated. You can look at the HREiR Action Plan template July 2020 to July 2022 and know where the University is with regard to its Concordat practices and progression, then decide how to participate. You can let your faculty representative know your concerns and potential barriers to progression. You can raise your questions on the website directly. Your participation in the Concordat can assist you as a researcher or manager of researchers in being well informed in making strategic decisions. For example, since 2018, the sector has started to diversify PhD students’ employment destinations to the private, public and third sectors. As a supervisor, you can help to diversify the researchers’ mind-set right from the beginning and you can seek opportunities to develop managerial and commercial skills. The University of Wolverhampton is committed to the three principles of the Concordat to support the career development of researchers through the Research Concordat Sub-Committee. A University webpage dedicated to the Concordat, with relevant archived and current documents has also been set up. 

For further information and guidance, please do not hesitate to contact your local Concordat representatives: Joy Levesley (HR), Debra Cureton (Doctoral College), Keith Gildart (FoSS), Paraskevi Goggolidou (RIHS), Ben Halligan (Doctoral College), Rebecca Jester (FEHW), Bozena Sojka (ICRD), Stefano Vaglio (FSE), Wen Wang (FoSS), Kayvan Kousha (FSE).

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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