The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers provides a single statement of the expectations and responsibilities of researchers, their managers, employers and funders. It is a national document with many signatories including Universities UK, HEFCE and the research councils UK.
In 2012, we conducted an internal analysis of the degree to which QM practice was already aligned with The Concordat, for which we were awarded the prestigious HR Excellence in Research by the European Commission.
After two years, we completed a review of progress against indicators and actions identified in the original Queen Mary University of London Concordat action plan, and formulated our 2014-2016 action plan.
In 2015 we undertook a similar review, informed by two national surveys and some focus groups with research staff representing all Faculties. The HR Excellence in Research Work group, which has representation from researchers from all faculties, formulated an action-plan moving forward from 2016, providing a framework of activities and initiatives to support and develop our research staff. The action plan and progress report were externally review by a panel appointed by Vitae, and our award was successfully confirmed on 30 June 2016. As part of this process, we will commit to a biennial review of the state of affairs at QMUL in regards to researcher support and development.
The Concordat consists of a set of seven principles…
- Recognition of the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research
- Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation’s human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research
- Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment
- The importance of researchers’ personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career
- Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to proactively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning
- Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers
- The sector and all stakeholders will undertake regular and collective review of their progress in strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK
Key Acheivements Since 2012
- QMUL is an active member of the Euraxess Services Network.
- E-Appraisal, the online version of the Queen Mary Personal Development and Apraisal Scheme (QMPDAS) encourages annual reflection on short and long-term career planning between researchers and their research (line) managers. Over two-thirds of research staff is engaging in this annual review, a 31% increase from when we were first awarded our HR Excellence in Research Award.
- Development and Careers Support and Advice from QMUL’s dedicated Development Advisers for Researchers (CAPD) and Careers Advisers for Researchers (Careers and Enterprise) and the provides one-to-one consultancy, careers and development workshops, seminars and events.
- Equal Treatment of Research Staff: irrespective of contract type are entitled to Benefits and Redeployment opportunties after 1 year in post. Various schemes were launched in 2014/15 through the Life Sciences Initiative (LSI) to facilitate the continuity of research staff employment.
- A Researcher-led initiative in 2014/15 resulted in the simplification and standardisation of postdoctoral researcher job titles and their profiles, to take effect in 2016.
- QMUL holds 11 externally-accredited Equality and Diversity Awards from the Equality Challenge Unit, Stonewall and Project Juno.
Action Plan Aims (2016-2018)
- Improve Researcher Engagement and satisfaction with the QMPDAS Data from CROS, PIRLS and the focus groups demonstrate willingness from researchers and their managers to engage with annual appraisal. HR and the CAPD are currently reviewing the use of E-appraisal. Training on leadership and management in research which includes the importance of effective appraisals would help to address the issue and the CAPD will bid for resources to develop such training (See Aim 4). Engagement with QMPDAS could benefit from the new e-appraisal system, as it streamlines and simplifies the process as well as enabling better tracking of completion.
- Improve Induction Resources for Researchers: At present, only about 30-40% of QMUL research staff attend an induction event. To support new researchers at QMUL, we are developing online induction resources on QMplus Hub, the networking site within our online learning area (QMplus). New researchers will also be able to network on the Hub and ask questions of existing staff, thus supporting peer communication. New researchers will also receive welcome emails from the CAPD sign-posting them to these resources, and inviting them to quarterly drop-in sessions, to ensure they are aware of the resources and support available for them at QMUL
- Further Growth of the Postdoctoral Mentoring Opportunities: S&E has led the way with more than half of its schools already offering pilot mentoring schemes for their postdocs. In the short-term, we plan to unify those efforts across the Faculty, and also enable offline mentoring relationships between departments. After its first year, we will review the scheme and roll it out to other Faculties.
- Continued Growth of the Development Programme for Researchers: Building on the success of the new development provision, we aim to grow the development programme to address training and development needs identified by the researchers. Priority areas for growth include support for women researchers (also supporting Athena SWAN, Gender Equality Mark and Juno), support for leadership and management in research, support for academic writing and publication and further support for applying for research funding.
- Growth of the QPdA: Academic units will be further encouraged to involve research staff on decision-making committees. In addition, the burgeoning postdoc networks require some structure to ensure their continuity of representation. To this end, each academic unit will be asked to nominate two representatives (who contribute to committees) to attend quarterly meetings of the QMUL Postdoc Association. Meetings will serve as networking opportunities for postdocs across Faculties to share practice and information. They will also serve to provide feedback on current initiatives, to inform future researcher development efforts, and to feed forward concerns to the requisite University structures.
- Continued Efforts to Support Equality and Diversity Initiatives: The CAPD will continue to support the departmental- and institutional-level ECU Charter initiatives. We aim to continue the upward trend of research staff engagement with our Fair Selection training, providing broader diversity and breadth of experience to our research staff.
- Provide more targeted support for women researchers: such as the Springboard Development Programme, which is run successfully at other Russell Group Universities. This will address needs identified by the research staff and support other agendas, such as Athena SWAN and Juno.
- Continued Implementation and Review: QMUL intends to continue to use CROS, PIRLS and focus groups to capture researcher feedback. Thus the HR Excellence group will use this biennial timeframe to review and monitor the University’s work to champion the Concordat.
Initial Action Plan (May 2011)
Two-Year Internal Review (Jan 2014)
Four-Year External Review (Jan 2016)
Concordat and Charter
- The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers – the document
- The European Charter for Researchers
The HR Excellence in Research Working Group
- Dr Rui Pires Martins (LEAD) – Researcher Development Adviser, CAPD
- Professor Mike Watkinson – Deputy Dean of Research, S&E
- Dr Olivia Sheringham – Postdoctoral Fellow, Geography (HSS)
- Dr Joseph Briscoe – Postdoctoral Research Assistant, SEMS (S&E)
- Dr Matthew Caley – Postdoctoral Research Associate, Blizard Institute (SMD)
- Samantha Holborn – HR Partner for S&E
with addtional input from:
- Dr Anna Price – Heard of Researcher Development, CAPD
- Margaret Ayers – Director of HR
For further information please contact Dr Rui Pires Martins by email or Telephone +44 20 7882 2816.