Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

As an agreement between Stakeholders, the Concordat to support the Career Development of Researchers (also known as the Researcher Development Concordat), is a document to support researchers’ career development and the research environment.

What is the Concordat?

The Concordat sets out in three clear principles: Environment and Culture, Employment and Professional and Career Development, the obligations for the four key stakeholder groups: Funders, Institutions, Researchers and Managers of Researchers to realise the aims of the Concordat. It aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of the UK society and its economy

When was it launched?

The original concordat was launched in summer 2008 and since then there has been many developments within the research environment.  In 2018, an independent review was undertaken and a revised concordat was published in September 2019.  On 4th February 2020, The University of Edinburgh became signatories to the Concordat. By signing this document, the University is demonstrating its continued commitment and ongoing support of research staff careers, but also to working in partnership with other institutions and funders to explore more systematic changes.

The current Concordat can be downloaded from the research concordat website:

The Researcher Development Concordat website

What are we doing about it at Edinburgh?

To meet our signatory responsibilities the University has undertaken a lengthy consultation process and gap analysis to compare our polices and practice against the Concordat principles, raise the visibility of the Concordat at the University and identify several cross-theme activities which enable us to meet our signatory responsibilities.  A Concordat Implementation Group (CIG) has now been convened whose immediate priority was to support the writing of our a two-year action plan.  The action plan has now been published and sets out how we will embed our Concordat actions in core practices and consider them alongside other University initiatives.  The CIG will continue to meet to track progress of our action plan and the committees broad representation will ensure we are continuing to support researchers at all stages of their careers.

Concordat Action Plan:

In March 2021 we published our 2-year Concordat Action Plan:

Concordat action plan - 2021 (pdf)

Reporting and Monitoring:

The implementation of the Action Plan will be managed by the Researcher Development team in the IAD in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and the CIG.  There will also be regular reporting to the Research Policy Group.

In the first stage of our Concordat process, we have achieved all our signatory responsibilities.  These responsibilities and our Action Plan will be reviewed and updated every six months.

Current Progress against our signatory responsibilities – March 2021:

  1. Raise the visibility of the Concordat and champion its Principles within their organisation at all levels. 
  • Achieved – extensive consultation and promotion from October 2019 – present. 
  1. Identify a senior manager champion and associated group with relevant representation from across the organisation with responsibility for annual review and reporting on progress. 
  • Achieved – Dr Sara Shinton, Head of Researcher Development and the Concordat Implementation Group (CIG), which includes representation from all Colleges and includes; staff who support Postdocs, Human Resources, Edinburgh Research Office, Library Support Team, Academics, Research Staff Societies and Postdoc Champions. 
  1. For organisations employing researchers, ensure that they are formally represented in developing and monitoring organisational efforts to implement the Concordat Principles. 
  • Achieved – Research staff are represented on the Concordat Implementation Group and the Research Staff Society network actively engaged in plans to build representation on other committees. 
  1. Undertake a gap analysis to compare their policies and practice against the Concordat Principles. 
  • Achieved – reviewed by Concordat Implementation Group in March 2020. 
  1. Draw up and publish an action plan within a year of signing the Concordat. 
  • Achieved – published action plan March 2021
  1. Set up processes for systematically and regularly gathering the views of researchers they fund or employ, to inform and improve the organisation’s approach to and progress on implementing the Concordat. 
  • Achieved – Concordat Implementation Group (with strong research staff representation) will deliver this.   We will also provide regular blog and newsletter updates on progress and initiatives.
  1. Produce 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. 

    • Planned for March 2022

 

Code of Practice:

In 2008, we launched The University of Edinburgh Code of Practice for the Management and Career Development of Research Staff and updated it in 2015. The Code provides guidance for research staff at Edinburgh on implementing a number of the Concordat principles.

Based on the updated Principles in the 2019 Concordat and our published 2-year Concordat action plan, we are now making progress on a number of short-term projects which will demonstrate our commitment to develop a positive research culture and support the updating of this document.

Code of Practice for the Management and Career Development of Research Staff

From 2010 to 2020 the University of Edinburgh held the HR Excellence in Research Award.  This has now been superseded at the University by the 2019 Concordat, which we feel is a more effective driver for change internally.  The University of Edinburgh became signatories to the Concordat in February 2020 and published our 2-year Concordat action plan 2021.

HR excellence in research award

Do you have something to add?

If you are a researcher, research manager, or any other staff group with an interest in the Concordat, and you would like to give us feedback on what you think we should be doing, do get in touch with us.

Research staff and principal investigator (PI) support

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