The self‐managing Researcher Career and Development (RCaD) group was recognised as good practice in our 2013 Athena SWAN submission and other Lancaster University departments have used RCAD as a template to set up similar researcher-support groups. The group considers critical issues affecting career development such as job security, continuity of contracts and opportunities to achieve more senior and permanent posts.
There is RCaD representation on the Equality Enhancement Committee (Dr Emma Halliday) and we consult with the group regarding any proposals/issues involving researchers.
Recruitment: The number of female researchers has increased by 54% since 2013, reflecting major research grant success in the faculty. In 2014, 45% of the researcher cohort was appointed at Grade 7. After encouraging Principal Investigators to appoint where possible researchers at Grade 7, 61% of the researcher cohort is currently appointed at Grade 7.
Contract status: In 2013/14, only three researchers (2 females, 1 male) were on indefinite contracts (9% of the researcher cohort). By 2016/17, 17 female and 8 male researcher had moved (or are guaranteed a move) to indefinite positions within the faculty (ca. 16% of the researcher cohort per year). Movement has been via, personal Fellowship to Lecturer (3 females, 3 males), researcher to Lecturer (8 females, 4 males), researcher to Indefinite Research-only contract (3 females) and researcher to Research Technician (3 females, 1 male).
Career progression - promotion: Since 2016, researchers (≥Grade 7) can apply for academic promotion but researchers report concerns that being successful would reduce the length of their externally-funded contract. This is a critical issue to address and we are working collectively with the University’s Senior Leadership Team to develop a solution. Our Research Development Manager is also raising awareness amongst Principle Investigators of the willingness of a number of Research Councils to support the costing of anticipated promotions and salary increments when included in research proposals.
Career progression – role evaluation/new position: Since 2013, 13% (80% female) and 31% (89% female) of researchers have moved to a higher grade through role evaluation and application for a new position, respectively. For re-grades, there is little difference between success rates for part-time and full-time staff, but a higher proportion of full-time staff have secured higher-graded new positions. This reflects the advertisement of research posts as full-time, rather than offering part-time options, which we will address.
Bridging funds: Although the University offers a 3 month extension to FTC contracts in exceptional circumstances, in 2017 the faculty introduced such an opportunity for all its researchers, to provide (i) job security between contracts or, (ii) support the researcher’s developmental needs. We have received further funding from the 2018 planning round to continue with this provision.
Fellowship support: The 2016 survey revealed that 54% of researchers were considering a research-only career (lectureship, 39%). The acquisition of a Fellowship would aid both career paths. We, together with the Faculty’s Research Committee, have now implemented a series of fellowship workshops and are offering mentoring/coaching by successful Fellows to Fellowship candidates.
Developmental Lectureships: As part of our workforce planning we are currently exploring the option of establishing developmental academic roles, building on a model piloted in our Medical School - after experiencing such difficulty in recruiting anatomy lecturers, it plans to ‘grow its own anatomist’ via an appointment which combines PhD study with teaching, and leads to a permanent Teaching & Research academic post (2 females appointed to date).