The Researchers' Group: an Institutional Research Staff Association

Strathclyde’s Researchers Group is an Institutional Research Staff Association. As a highly effective route for the Researcher Voice to be heard at an Institutional level, the Group allows the Researchers to be central to understanding and addressing all aspects of the Researcher Development Concordat while providing opportunities for the Researchers’ own professional, career and leadership development. 

What kind of an organisation are you in the context of the Concordat?

The University of Strathclyde is a leading, technological research-intensive university with 500-600 research staff. 

What challenge were you trying to address with this initiative?

To provide a formal route for Research Staff representation within the University while providing a sense of community, collaboration and support for the researchers themselves. 

What did you do and how does this align with the Principles and keywords you have selected below?

The University of Strathclyde established an Institutional Research Staff Association (the Researchers’ Group). This group provides representatives on Institutional and Faculty-based research and related committees as well as providing significant ongoing input into activities such as the Researcher Development Gap Analysis and Implementation.

The Researchers’ Group also organises activities such as seminars, social events and a conference (Strathwide) with associated funding each year.

Overall this provides a formal, and highly effective, route for the Researcher Voice to be heard at an Institutional level allowing them to be central to understanding and addressing all aspects of the Researcher Development Concordat while providing opportunities for the Researchers own professional, career and leadership development.

What were the challenges in implementation and how did you resolve them?

Setting up the group

The first members had taken part in interviews during a consultation on Research Staff development provision - this allowed us to get to know the Researchers and effectively support them in getting the group up and running. The first members were tasked with writing a remit which was agreed through Institutional committees, and this provided a focus for what the committee would do both in the short and long term.


A fairly formal committee structure (Co-Chairs, Secretary, Social Media, etc) with regular meetings, agendas and minutes plus a process for reporting into Institutional committees where deemed appropriate. Members of the Researcher Development team also act as liaison with the central University and provide support both within and outside of the meetings. 


When most members are on fixed-term contracts and all are taking part on top of their primary role, a three Co-Chair structure (Incoming, Sitting and Outgoing for six months each) plus the other roles helps to share the load and provide support if a member leaves the University earlier than expected. The group is promoted through the University newsletter, email, events and the Co-Chairs attend Research Staff Induction.

How did you evaluate the impact of your initiative?

Through processes such as the EU HR Excellence in Research Award and the Researcher Development Concordat Gap Analysis as well as ongoing communication with the Researchers themselves. 

Were there any surprising or unexpected consequences?

The Researchers’ Group rapidly decided to organise their own annual conference, Strathwide, to support cross-disciplinary collaboration and gained funding from the University and Faculties to run a competitive research funding competition targeted at Strathclyde’s Research Staff.

Following on the success of this group, our Doctoral Researchers also started Strathclyde’s Doctoral Researchers’ Group.

What advice would you give others wanting to do this?

Institutional RSAs can be difficult to maintain so they need regular, ongoing support from the institution. We would advise providing a budget; encouraging some amount of structure and formality to the group/committee; providing tangible links to Institutional Structures (e.g., representatives on committees) and getting to know the members will help them to stay sustainable.

Beneficiaries: Research staff Postgraduate researchers

Stakeholders: Researchers Professional staff Senior/executive team

Concordat principles: Environment and culture Employment Professional and career development

Keywords: Training Professional development Research culture Career progression Policy Equality, diversity and inclusion Researcher voice Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Recognition