Professional support staff

This case study describes the social science approach (termed Merging Knowledge) utilised to develop the University of Oxford's Concordat action plan. The case details the action plan design and drafting process, which involved participants from across the University, selected to represent the Concordat stakeholder groups and to reflect diversity across disciplines, career stage, ethnicity, and gender.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff Senior/executive team
Concordat principles: Environment and culture
Keywords: Forum Representation Concordat Research culture Policy Researcher voice


To celebrate and recognise the achievement of the University’s research staff, the Research Staff Strategy Group (RSSG) introduced a new University awards scheme exclusively for research staff (defined as research assistants, associates/postdocs and fellows). The four categories of award (Research Staff of the Year, Best Outstanding Output, Best Outstanding Contribution to Research Impact, and Best Outstanding Contribution to the Research Environment) showcase the excellent work of research staff and raise their profile and visibility across the University.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff Senior/executive team
Concordat principles: Environment and culture
Keywords: Research identity Research culture Policy Recognition


The University of Liverpool Research Staff Association (UoL RSA) supported by the Academy is a research community-owned and -led initiative. It provides a voice for research staff across all faculties, and a platform for communication and networking. It helps co-ordinate central support for researcher development and builds a researcher community that, through representation on committees and working groups, empowers researchers to be involved in decision making.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Researchers Professional staff
Concordat principles: Environment and culture Employment Professional and career development
Keywords: Training development activities Professional development Research identity Research culture Induction Career progression Policy Equality, diversity and inclusion Wellbeing Researcher voice Bullying and harassment Working conditions Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Research assessment Recognition Research staff association (RSA) Community building


The Researcher Forum at Plymouth enables the University to facilitate communications, consultation, practice sharing, development and support with our Researchers. The Researcher Forum facilitates discussion and networking between our researchers, managers, academics and staff supporting researchers and is key to supporting our researchers. Meetings are themed according to Concordat-related activities, University initiatives and priorities for researchers, for example: Concordat consultation, REF, career development, funding support, Open Access and, Impact. The Concordat Working Group works closely with the Researcher Forum and Research Staff representatives on Concordat-related activities, providing a pivotal link with our community of researchers. Faculty ECR Forums have been established for the Faculties of Health; Science and Engineering; and Arts, Humanities and Business. Faculty ECR Forums are conduits for information, consultation, representation, career development and support for researchers aligned with each group. Establishing Faculty ECR Forums has led to further opportunities for research staff through 'Faculty crossover representatives', which provides an excellent opportunity for researchers who are interested in developing their experience/research beyond their Faculty network.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Postgraduate researchers Research and teaching staff Teaching-only staff Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff Senior/executive team
Concordat principles: Environment and culture Employment Professional and career development
Keywords: Researcher ECR Forum Representation Career development Networking Collaboration Support Concordat Training Signposting Policy Equality, diversity and inclusion Research culture Research integrity Wellbeing Researcher voice Bullying and harassment Flexible working Open Transparent and Merit-based (OTM) recruitment and progression Induction Job security Working conditions Career progression Performance management Professional development Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Research identity Research assessment Recognition


This case study describes our reflective practice approach. Through the creation of the Developing Excellent Researchers Subcommittee, we widened engagement making it more inclusive and balanced academic and Human Resources need. This established network means that research staff can contribute to the institutional strategic research agenda. This was important in developing our HR Excellence in Research Award submission as it ensured that we engaged with individuals from our research staff cohort through to those in senior research management roles. Changing the focus of support for HR Excellence in Research and widening engagement has facilitated a more reflective approach. This will continue to evolve as the agenda turns to research culture.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Technicians Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Managers of researchers Professional staff
Concordat principles: Environment and culture Employment Professional and career development
Keywords: Policy Research culture Researcher voice Leadership development


Colleagues from Organisational Development and the Careers Service at Newcastle University worked together to develop and deliver an engaging series of career management workshops for early career researchers during the pandemic. They replaced face-to-face classroom-based delivery with blended learning. Four workshops ran over 8 weeks: Career Clarity, Curiosity, Courage and Capability with pre-work and follow-up resources. The workshops (on Zoom) included guest speakers, Q&A, quizzes and breakout discussions. Due to demand and positive feedback, we are continuing with this approach. In the face of adversity, we've created something very positive.


Beneficiaries: Managers of researchers Professional support staff
Stakeholders: Researchers Professional staff
Concordat principles: Professional and career development
Keywords: Researcher developers Careers consultants Careers service Organisational development Training Career progression Professional development Career management Diverse careers