development module explores the Principles of the Concordat and the
resulting responsibilities for staff. The module serves to foster conversations
that nurture a positive and inclusive culture in which researchers take
responsibility for the development of their personal and professional practice.
As role-related training, the module will be available to new and existing
staff as needed, allowing them to refresh their understanding of the Researcher
A research-intensive university. We employ 920 staff on research-only
contracts and 550 principal investigators (PIs) who are in receipt of grants.
The primary beneficiaries of the Researcher Development Concordat at the University
of Liverpool are those early in their research career, including postdoctoral
researchers, research associates, research assistants and early career research
and tenure-track fellows. However, we recognise that the benefits of the
Concordat activities extend to other groups who actively engage in research
within the University and who are expected to develop their research identity
as part of their career progression. These include staff on teaching and
research or teaching and scholarship contracts, clinicians, professional
support staff and technicians.
The Concordat sets out expectations and responsibilities of each
stakeholder in terms of researchers themselves, their managers (PIs), employers
and funders. It also articulates key principles for the employment; research
culture and environment; and support and management of research careers. We therefore
wanted to develop a clear and concise obligatory role-related training module
that explains the Researcher Development Concordat Principles and resulting
responsibilities for staff so that all the key Concordat stakeholders across
the University could clearly see and understand how each principle is embedded
into institutional practice.
We produced an open-access Researcher Development Concordat module which aims to provide an understanding of the Concordat, and associated responsibilities for principal investigators and research staff. The module is regularly updated and is made up of seven sections that provide information and resources on:
A brief quiz at the end reinforces understanding.
The development of talented people, and their ideas and skills, is critical to the success of our universities’ research and innovation system. At Liverpool, we are mindful that our research and innovation workforce must be supported to have dynamic, diverse careers that drive societal and economic benefits.
Inspiring, supporting and developing the diversity of people who work, or aspire to work, in research and innovation is integral to our researcher development practice. We have held the HR Excellence in Research Award since 2011, and were one of the first signatories to the 2019 revised Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. We published an annual update and action plan to meet our concordat obligations, setting out how we will implement the concordat across the institution. We are also a signatory to the Technician Commitment, which is a cross-sector initiative to improve the visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technical careers in higher education.
A lack of understanding of
the benefits of being signatories to the Concordat can on occasion limit the
opportunities and initiatives that researchers at all career levels engage
with. Therefore, this development module, the first of its kind in the higher education
sector, aims to further enhance the environment, career and professional
development of researchers, managers of researchers and professional colleagues
supporting our researcher community. It serves to foster understanding and
conversations that nurture a positive and inclusive culture in which
researchers take responsibility for the development of their personal and
The success of the module is evident in the following notable outputs and outcomes:
Feedback for the module includes:
The Academy’s Researcher Development team regularly receive emails from
colleagues in external universities complimenting the module. For example,
“This is a great way of raising awareness of the RDC. I work at [institutional
name redacted] and am tasked with raising awareness of HREiR [HR Excellence in
Research] and the RDC and this open access module has given me lots of ideas.
Thank you for making it open access so an external can do it.”
We recommend that providing bite-sized information that can be accessed
in many different formats and across many different platforms will increase
engagement with and understanding of the Concordat. Most importantly, providing
information about the Concordat in this manner empowers researchers to take
responsibility for the development of their personal and professional practice
and to foster conversations that nurture a positive and inclusive culture.
Keywords: Training Professional development Research identity Research culture Induction Career progression Policy Equality, diversity and inclusion Research integrity Wellbeing Researcher voice Bullying and harassment Flexible working Job security Working conditions Performance management Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Research assessment Recognition Open Transparent and Merit-based (OTM) recruitment and progression