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


The University of Portsmouth is a modern University employing 120-140 Research Staff, depending largely on the number and type of externally funded research grants and contracts. Recognising that our existing structures were not delivering the levels of engagement necessary to deliver on the aspirations in our Concordat Action Plan, we redesigned the group that has oversight and governance of researcher development to bring in representation from PhD through to Professor, reinvigorating career stage fora.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Research and teaching staff Managers of researchers
Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff
Concordat principles: Environment and culture
Keywords: Professional development Research culture Policy Researcher voice Career management Diverse careers 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 revised Concordat to support the career development for researchers includes reference to researchers having opportunities, structured support, encouragement and time to engage in a minimum of 10 days professional development pro rata per year.

Professional development can take a variety of forms and varies with career stage. The University of Liverpool have developed a web resource Development Activity Guidance which includes examples of opportunities that enable researchers to develop skills and experience to support their career and professional development.


Beneficiaries: Research staff Postgraduate researchers Research and teaching staff Teaching-only staff Technicians
Stakeholders: Researchers Professional staff
Concordat principles: Professional and career development
Keywords: Signposting Professional development Guidance and support Policy Equality, diversity and inclusion Research culture Research integrity Wellbeing Researcher voice Bullying and harassment Training Flexible working Induction Job security Working conditions Career progression Performance management Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Research identity Research assessment Recognition


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. 


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


The University of Exeter's ambitious exploration of research culture in each department across the whole University using technology to promote discussion. 


Beneficiaries: Research staff Postgraduate researchers Research and teaching staff Managers of researchers
Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff Senior/executive team
Concordat principles: Environment and culture Employment Professional and career development
Keywords: Training Professional development Research identity Research culture Induction Career progression Policy Wellbeing Researcher voice Bullying and harassment Job security Working conditions Performance management Career management Diverse careers Leadership development Research assessment Recognition Open Transparent and Merit-based (OTM) recruitment and progression


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