How we’re supporting the career development of researchers

Last week saw the publication of a Russell Group report on research culture. The report examines research culture and environment in UK universities and offers pragmatic steps for universities and others to make sure that the UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to do research.

One area of focus in the report is career progression, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you how we’re supporting the career development of researchers here at the University.

We’re committed to your professional development and the development of a positive research culture, and we have made sure that this is at the heart of our vision for research.

To provide a foundation for our work in this area, last year our Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts signed the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. This is an agreement between funders and employers of researchers focussed on creating the very best culture for researchers to thrive.

We have also successfully renewed our European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award in 2019, which measures our performance against the principles stated in the concordat. The award recognises our progress towards a high quality research environment for research staff and postgraduate researchers.

Our work to uphold the concordat includes a focus on its three key principles of environment and culture; employment; and professional and career development:

Setting expectations

We have developed two charters setting out expectations and responsibilities for early career researchers and line managers to uphold the principles of the concordat and create an environment which supports the career development of researchers. Please familiarise yourself with these:

Charter for Early Career Research Staff
Charter for the development of research staff by their line managers and the University

Professional development

We have made a commitment to provide all research staff with the equivalent of one day per month time allocation for professional career development, and we encourage you to take ownership of your career and professional development. Professional career development encompasses a wide range of possible activities, from developing independent research proposals, conference attendance, attending development activities, and seeking careers advice. Further reading is available at:
Definition of researcher professional development

Think Ahead is the University’s framework for the continuous professional development of researchers. It includes support with professional development planning, training sessions, mentoring opportunities and a great deal more.

As you may know, we hope to introduce a new learning management system in the near future, making it easier for researchers, and for all staff groups, to find and book training suited to their needs and roles. We will keep you updated as this work progresses.

Governance

We have recently set up a new University Early Career Researcher (ECR) Committee, that contains representatives from all faculties, to ensure a voice for ECRs as we develop the commitments we have made and develop plans to achieve the University vision. This committee will be working to improve research culture for our early career researchers.