Research Career Development Concordat
The Concordat has three defining Principles covering:
- Environment and Culture: Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture;
- Employment: Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions;
- Professional and Career Development: Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential.
Organisations sign the Concordat to show their commitment to achieving these three principles. For each of these Principles, the Concordat outlines the key responsibilities of the four main stakeholder groups; researchers, managers of researchers, institutions, and funders.
"The Concordat is a shared responsibility with researchers, their managers, their employers and funders."
Researcher Development Concordat, 2019
On 3 November 2020, The Open University signed a Letter of Commitment to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. By signing this letter, the OU has started the process of implementing the new Researcher Development Concordat (RDC) as indicated by Vitae1 and actively working towards meeting the responsibilities laid out in the Concordat. As of 12 August 2019, The OU has been successful in retaining the European Commission HR Excellence in Research Award at the six-year review point. This award recognises the University's’ commitment to researcher career development and acknowledges alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment.
The new Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (Researcher Development Concordat: RDC), overviewed above, released in September 2019, to which the OU’s Vice Chancellor signed up on 3 November 2020 will sign up in autumn 2020. The new Concordat defines expectations for organisations as employers (i.e. the OU), and also specifically for managers of researchers (i.e. your line manager). This change from the earlier version reflects the influence of both organisational policies and procedures and individual attitudes and behaviours on the professional development and employment conditions of researchers. Institutions are expected to make all individuals aware of their responsibilities and support individuals to work together to achieve the aims of the Concordat. This includes engaging with systemic challenges, such as reducing the use of fixed-term contracts, increasing the security of employment, and gathering the data on career paths of researchers.
All Concordat signatories (e.g. institutions and funders) must publish annual reports on their implementation of the Concordat against an action plan with clear measures of success. The latest reports published by the OU can be found here.
The OU maintains a steering group, The Researcher Developer Concordat Steering Group (RDCSG), to oversee the implementation and review of the Concordat. RDCSG is a body that meets three times a year to look at the research environment for staff on research contracts (fixed term and permanent) at The OU.
What does it mean for me as a researcher?
The Concordat focuses primarily on the rights and responsibilities of researchers who are employed solely or largely to conduct research, given the continuing pressing need to improve researchers' working conditions and wider research environments.
The Concordat sets out expectations for you, your line managers, and research funders, to recognise that career development is a shared responsibility. Thus, it is important to familiarise yourself with these expectations. To learn more about the Concordat Principles and what the expectation from your institution, your line manager, your funder, and yourself are, please see the revised Concordat here and visit the Vitae webpage.
"There is still much to do to create the healthy and supportive culture needed to ensure our researchers are given every opportunity to thrive and realise their potential in the increasingly diverse, mobile and global environment in which we work."
Researcher Development Concordat, 2019
The Researcher Developer Concordat Steering Group (RDCSG) members consist range of academics, researchers, researcher developers, and academic-related staff from various faculties and units including APD, People Services, UCU, EDI (equality, diversity, and inclusion). A proactive and collaborative approach is required between all stakeholders, to create and develop positive environments and cultures in which all researchers can flourish and achieve their full potential. Thus, the RDCSG is actively seeking new researcher members to broaden its researcher community who would play an essential role in the successful implementation of the Concordat principles at the OU.
- Are you keen to play a proactive role for the researcher community at the OU?
- Do you want to take part in improving the OU's research environment?
- Would you like to take part in building the narrative for reducing the use of fixed-term contracts, and increasing the security of researcher employment and career progression?
If so, we would like to invite you to become an RDCSG Champion and have your say within the steering group! You can bring your expertise and experience of working at the OU to this group and advocate your feed into working groups that form part of the steering group. Beyond sharing your expertise and getting to know the OU structures and processes, you can assist to actively inform and shape the future of the research community and contracts at the OU.
If you would like to find out more about the RDCSG and attend an online briefing meetinghow you can take part on the OU’s future plans and how getting involved could be of benefit, please get in touch via the Concordat email.
Dr Duygu Bektik
Dr Elizabeth FitzGerald