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The Researcher Development Concordat

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, frequently referred to as the Researcher Development Concordat, is a national agreement to improve support for researchers and researcher careers in UK HE.

Three principles at the heart of the agreement:

  • Environment and culture
  • Employment
  • Professional and career development

Four stakeholder groups work together to meet the aims of the Concordat:

  • Researchers
  • Managers of researchers
  • Institutions
  • Funders 

Information on the 2020 Concordat update

Taken from the Concordat Essential Guide for Institutions, 2019

What has changed?

The revision of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (known as the Researcher Development Concordat) has been led by the Concordat Strategy Group and written by a multi-stakeholder writing group, chaired by Professor Dianne Berry OBE, in response to recommendations from an Independent Review led by Professor David Bogle.

Key changes from 2008:

  • Three Principles covering environment and culture, employment, and professional and career development of researchers
  • Expectations for institutions, funders, managers of researchers, and researchers
  • Minimum 10 days per year for researchers to spend on professional development and the expectation of time and opportunities to develop research identity and broader leadership skills
  • Any organisation with an interest in the career development of researchers may become a signatory
  • Signatories are encouraged to work together on systemic challenges, such as reducing the use of fixed-term contracts and gathering data on the career paths of researchers

The Concordat is owned by the higher education sector as a whole, and overseen by the Concordat Strategy Group, chaired by Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London.

What happens next?

"This revised Concordat resets the bar and provides fresh impetus in driving the agenda forward through systemic change".
- Professor Julia Buckingham CBE

The Concordat is an aspirational, flexible and living document that can be used in a variety of organisational contexts and will adapt to the evolving research environment".

Early initiatives will be:

  • Web resources and communications to raise awareness and engagement with different stakeholders
  • A UK implementation plan
  • An online platform to share practice
  • Working groups on systemic challenges

The Concordat Strategy Group will maintain continuity to support the launch and early implementation of the Concordat, before a new governance structure comes into place in 2020. A major review of implementation will be conducted after three years.

What it means for the University of Bradford

The University of Bradford became a signatory of the Concordat in April 2020. This involves:

  • Committing to a gap analysis of our institution’s needs
  • Publicly sharing an action plan demonstrating the work we are doing to meet the ten obligations of the Concordat
  • Evaluating and updating progress against our actions to ensure our ongoing institutional commitment

The ten obligations that signatories must meet can be found in our action plan, details below.

What it means for you as a researcher

Taken from The Concordat Essential information for researchers, 2019:

The Concordat also sets out expectations for you, your managers, and research funders, to recognise that career development is a shared responsibility. You should familiarise yourself with these expectations, some of which may also be included in your employment contract or funding conditions. 

The Concordat is an aspirational, flexible and living document that will adapt to the evolving research environment and can be used by different types of organisations. Employers can demonstrate their commitment in different ways or prioritise just a few areas of the Concordat to start with. 

The Concordat signatories should also engage with systemic challenges, such as reducing the use of fixed-term contracts, increasing security of employment and gathering the data on career paths of researchers.

Our action planning 

At Bradford, the ‘Staff and Postgraduate Researcher Development Working Group’ oversees action planning, consultation and progress activities. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation & Engagement champions the Concordat at senior level. The Research and innovation Services (RaIS) team supports many of the Concordat activities we undertake.

Since our university became a signatory, a number of activities have been undertaken.

  • We have a Research Development Fund to foster new research and recognise research excellence.
  • Two important vision documents, setting out the future of research have been approved and are now at implementation phase. These are the ‘Research and Innovation Strategy’ and the ‘Postgraduate Research Strategy’.
  • A suite of online, flexible training has been introduced for staff by our People and Organisational Development specialists in HR.
  • We have begun briefings for researchers and managers of researchers to provide concise information about the implications for these groups and answer questions.
  • We have publicly shared our commitment to the Concordat.

Concordat action plan

Our current action plan showing the ten obligations, our gap analysis, and our steps to meet these is available to read.

Keep in touch

Contact us in the following ways if you would like more information, and you can follow our LinkedIn company page for regular updates.