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Queen Mary Academy

The Researcher Development Concordat & HR Excellence in Research Award

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers is an agreement between funders and employers of research staff to improve the employment and support for researchers and research careers in UK Higher Education.

It sets out clear standards that research staff can expect from the institution that employs them, as well as their responsibilities as researchers.

A composite image featuring the logos from the RD Concordat and the European HR Excellence in Research Award

QMUL is a proud Signatory to the Concordat as of January 2021 and has held the HR Excellence in Research Award since 2012

The Concordat was updated in September 2019 to a statement of three principles in support of researcher career development, whilst outlining specific expectations and responsibilities of each major stakeholder: research staff, their managers, institutions, and funders. This updated Concordat encourages individual research organisations and funders to become signatories, with QMUL becoming a signatory in January 2021. The responsibilities of signatory organisations involve reporting yearly to their governing bodies.

QMUL Concordat Signatory Letter [PDF 145KB]

The European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award marks an institution’s commitment to upholding the Concordat (a UK proxy for The European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers). 

The award is granted to research organisations for putting forward an action plan that describes ways that the institution and its researchers will empower and support their research community. It is reviewed every two years. Our eight-year review took place in March 2020 and we retained the award. The related action plan (see ‘Reviews and Action Plans’ below) sets out seven aims.

 The RD Concordat Implementation Group (RDCIG)

  • Sheila Gupta, MBE – Concordat Champion – Vice-Principal (People, Culture and Inclusion)
  • Prof Janet de Wilde RDCIG Co-chair – Director of the Queen Mary Academy
  • Dr Anna Price RDCIG Co-chair – Heard of Researcher Development, Queen Mary Academy
  • Dr Rui Pires Martins RDCIG Manager – Researcher Development Adviser, Queen Mary Academy
  • Augusto Nembrini da Rocha RDCIG Administrator – RD Support Administrator, Queen Mary Academy
  • Prof David Kelsell  SMD Academic Staff Rep – Professor of Human Molecular Genetics, Blizard Institute
  • Dr Claire Pardieu  SMD Research Staff Rep – Postdoctoral Researcher, Blizard Institute
  • Dr Alkistis Pourtsidou  S&E Academic Staff Rep – Future Leaders Fellow and Reader in Cosmology, School of Physics and Astronomy
  • Prof Morag Shiach – HSS Academic Staff Rep – Professor of Cultural History, School of English and Drama
  • Dr Sydney Calkin HSS Research Staff Rep – Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, School of Geography
  • Samantha Holborn and Julie JamgotchianHuman Resources Rep  Faculty Strategic HR Partner (job-share), Science and Engineering

The RDCIG's Terms of Reference: RDCIG - Terms of Reference (Dec 2020) [PDF 264KB].

QMUL-Q (Blue on White)QMUL Researchers are encouraged to proactively engage in their own professional and career development.

The Concordat sets up a framework of responsibilities for the various stakeholders to support and enable UK researchers to accomplish this. QMUL has been committed to providing a thriving work environment to recruit and retain researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research for over a decade.

We offer our researchers career and development opportunities through skills training, courses, and events offered by Researcher Development, Educational DevelopmentCareers & EnterpriseOrganisational and Professional Development (HR), Public Engagement, Media Engagement, The Language CentreThe Librarythe Joint Research Management Office (JRMO), as well as locally through each of the Schools and Institutes.

Key Achievements since our initial Action Plan in 2012

  • E-Appraisal, the online version of the Queen Mary Personal Development and Appraisal Scheme encourages annual reflection on short and long-term career planning between researchers and their research (line) managers. Approximately 70% of research staff engage in the annual appraisal.
  • >10% increase in number of researchers reporting appraisals useful for focusing on career aspirations and identifying development opportunities (CROS 2019) following induction training introduced for both managers and apraisees (AP2018: Aim 1)
  • Induction events at all levels reported more useful by researchers: CROS2017 shows an increase in respondent satisfaction with induction at institutional (15% increase), departmental (18%) and local (10%) levels (AP2016: Aim 2).
  • A QMUL-wide mentoring scheme for postdocs was trialed in 2016/17 (AP2016: Aim 3) that provided a mentor for a cohort of 29 postdocs. Feedback collected part-way through the trial from mentees and mentors has been positive and this now forms part of the standard RD provision at QMUL. In 2019/20, this scheme expanded to enable postdocs to gain experience as mentors to PhD students.
  • QMUL’s RD programme has seen a 19% jump in engagement from 2018-2020, with over 70% of our researchers attending at least workshops, courses, or events (AP2018: Aim 3)
  • New courses are added annually to the growing , which offers training across all Vitae RDF domains, including a number of new workshops in the Intellectual Abilities Domain (A), as well as new courses in Academic Writing.
  • QConsult Researchers placed 67 researchers into bespoke consultancy projects in and around London. Participants report a better knowledge of their skills and in a better position to achieve their career goals.
  • QMUL introduced the Springboard Women’s Development Programme at QMUL in 2016 (AP2016: Aim 7), and is attended by about 30 researchers annually. From 2020/21, QMUL will be trialling UNIque, a new women's development programme especially aimed at academic researchers.
  • QMUL Research Staff and Research Leaders feedback to us biennially via CROS and PIRLS Surveys. In 2019, we more than doubled the response obtained from our research community using these surveys! (AP2018-Aim 7) and will be running the newly developed CEDARS from 2021 which takes the place of these two surveys.
  • QMUL holds nine externally-accredited Equality and Diversity Awards.
  • Bespoke 1-to-1 Development and Careers Support and Advice for researchers is available from QMUL’s dedicated Researcher Development Advisers () and Careers Advisers for Researchers (Careers and Enterprise)
  • Equal Treatment of Research Staff: irrespective of contract type, research staff are entitled to Benefits and Redeployment opportunties after 1 year in post. Various schemes were launched in 2014/15 through the Life Sciences Initiative (LSI) to facilitate the continuity of research staff employment.
  • Researcher-led initiative in 2014/15 resulted in the simplification and standardisation of postdoctoral researcher job titles and their profiles in place since 2016.

Action Plan Aims (2020-2022)

  1. Review appraisal systems for researchers – A review will be conducted following the closure of the 2020 appraisal period (Sept-Dec 2020), exploring practices across all faculties. Results will be fed forward to appropriate stakeholders (e.g. HR/OPD and School/Institutes), and Guidance and training for managers for conducting appraisals with research staff informed by this review with training to be piloted in Sept-Dec 2021. Success Measure: Appraisal completion rates equalised across faculties; 10% increase in overall usefulness as reported in CROS.
  2. A new series of researcher induction events and resources to better integrate new researchers who join QMUL will be developed to follow on from institution wide induction events (beginning in May/June 2020) to include RD, Careers, and HR staff. Online Resources to follow along by Aug-Dec 2020. Success Measure: Attendance from at least half of the researchers attending the institutional induction event, with a majority (over 66%) reporting them useful (as reported through event feedback); over 50% engagement of new-hire researchers with online welcome resources.
  3. Explore the barriers of researcher engagement with CPD provision: 13% of researchers are either not engaging in CPD or doing so less than 1 day per year. With Concordat 2019 suggesting a minimum of 10 days CPD, and in line with the recommendations of the Roberts Review (2002), we will explore some of the barriers to engagement with CPD experienced by our researchers using focus groups, to better inform our practice, and to trial a better way for researchers to track and plan their CPD, so that we can ensure our researchers are maximising their development opportunities whilst a staff member here. Success Measures: Focus groups with researchers and managers to run with representation from all faculties. Contingent upon CPD tool being fit for purpose, feedback from researchers participating in the trial to be collected in Nov 2021, with a majority (>66%) of participants finding the process/tool useful to record and plan their CPD.
  4. Increase coaching and mentoring opportunities for Researchers. RD will investigate why researchers opt to not engage with mentoring (CROS 2019: 36%), or those that would like to engage with it haven’t (38%, down from 47% in 2017). The review will include input from focus groups with researchers (to run in May-June 2020) and investigate whether the centralised delivery model should be augmented to a local model (or some mixture of the two) for some Schools or Institutes. Success Measure: a doubling in the size of mentoring cohort (approx. 10% research staff) for the trial, with Actions to follow in AP2022 directed at being able to offer mentoring to all researchers who desire it.
  5. RD will provide greater support to help maintain local RSAs to ensure greater continuity of these organisations that help support and amplify the researcher’s voice within an organisation. In addition, QMUL will enable a regular event that will bring all local RSAs together to share experience and practice. Success Measures: first QM-wide RSA meeting by October 2020 to include representation from new or revitalised RSAs from at least 5 Schools or Institutes.
  6. QMUL will be submitting for an ECU Race Equality Charter award by February 2021. Success Measure: Bronze ECU Race Charter Awarded by August 2021.
  7. QMUL to create a new Researcher Development Concordat Implementation Group (RDCIG) to oversee future action plans and to review progress in implementing the Concordat. The CIG will include representation from researchers and managers of researchers across all three Faculties, be supported by the Queen Mary Academy, and report to the Senior Executive Team. RDCIG will announce its membership and meet for the first time by October 2020, and declare its Terms of Service, reporting lines and processes by February 2021.

The Concordat and European Charter Documents

UKRI Supporting Skills and Talent

 

For further information please contact Dr Rui Pires Martins by email.