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Statement of Expectations for the Development of Research Staff

Lancaster’s vision for the development of research talent

Lancaster’s Strategic Plan 2020 and Our People Strategy 2020 set out goals and priorities to conduct excellent research within an environment which nurtures and cultivates its staff, encouraging them to fulfil their career ambitions.

Lancaster is immensely proud to have attracted a critical mass of highly talented research staff and whose contributions are vital to our success as a world-class research institution. Their expertise, energy and commitment are visible in both Lancaster’s outstanding research outputs and in the shaping of the wider research community through the mentorship they offer for fellow staff and students alike.

Lancaster is committed to Vitae’s Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers and our good practice to date has led to us being awarded the HR Excellence in Research Award from the European Commission. Our vision is for a fully integrated research community within which our exemplary research staff are provided equally exemplary opportunities to contribute, develop and progress. In recognising the key role of research staff, Lancaster University will:

  • Nurture research staff individually and as a key cohort within the wider multi-disciplinary research community
  • Foster an institutional research culture that is inclusive and respectful
  • Acknowledge and amplify the contribution that Lancaster’s research staff make to world-class research

Lancaster’s commitment to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers is led by the Concordat Implementation Group and further underpinned by a Code of Practice for the Development of Research Staff. This draws together much of the good practice that already exists across the institution, and provides a resource to guide both Principal Investigators in creating a supportive environment for research staff and research staff in fulfilling their responsibilities to their own career and professional development.

“As an institution, we take the principles set out in the Concordat very seriously. We are proud to be amongst the first signatories as it confirms our intention to be a leader in the way we support our researchers, and it will help ensure our researchers can flourish in today’s landscape.”

Professor Louise Heathwaite CBE FRSE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

The concordat sets out three clear Principals of environment and culture, employment and professional and career developement. The principals are underpinned by obligations for the four key stakeholder groups, funders, institutions, researchers and managers of researchers, to realise the aims of the concordat. Please see the tabs below for the obligations of each key stakeholder group according to these principals.

Tab Content: Researcher

Environment and culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture. Healthy working environments attract and develop a more diverse workforce, impact positively on individual and institutional performance , and enhance staff engagement.

This principal recognises that 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.

As a Lancaster researcher:

  1. Familiarise yourself with induction guidance and complete induction process.
  2. Attend the central researcher introduction workshop and any Faculty or departmental events.
  3. Ensure you are aware of University policies and procedures relating to research best practice, research ethics and integrity, and equality diversity and inclusion, commercialisation issues (IP), research data management etc.
  4. Identify and engage an appropriate mentor, either within the University or externally.
  5. Consider opportunities to contribute to policy development aimed at creating a more positive research environment and culture. - Participate in departmental, faculty and wider university research governance, e.g. Research Committees, and with the Research Staff Association (RSA). - Active member of a support group e.g. LGBGT, parenting group, women’s network etc.
  6. Take positive action towards maintaining your wellbeing and mental health. (Sports Centre, mindfulness, alternative health, healthy campus, wellbeing website etc.)
  7. Be aware of and use available mechanisms to report staff who fail to meet the expected standards of behaviour, particularly in relation to discrimination, harassment, bullying, and research misconduct.

 

Employment

Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions. Provision of good employment conditions for researchers has positive impacts on researcher wellbeing, the attractiveness of research careers, and research excellence.

The Principal recognises the importance of fair, transparent and merit –based recruitment, progression and promotion, effective performance management, and a good work-life balance. All stakeholders need to address long-standing challenges around insecurity of employment and career progression, ensuring equality of experience and opportunity for all, irrespective of background, contract type and personal circumstances.

As a Lancaster researcher:

  1. Discuss options for future project funding with your PI and contribute to planning future work as appropriate, e.g. engaging with Research & Enterprise Services (RES) and the Research Services Office (RSO).
  2. Seek out opportunities to apply for future independent funding, if appropriate, e.g. register for RESEARCHConnect and attend RES funding call events.
  3. For employment opportunities within Lancaster University, register with HR for the University’s staff redeployment scheme.
  4. Ensure that they work in accordance with, institutional policies , procedures and employment legislation, as well as the requirements of their funder.
  5. Understand their reporting obligations and responsibilities
  6. Positively engage with performance management discussions wand reviews with their managers. - Engage fully and pro-actively with the university’s PDR process.
  7. Recognise and act on their role as key stakeholders within their institution and the wider academic community.

 

Professional and career development 

Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential. Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse global research environment and employment market.

This Principal recognises the importance of continuous professional and career development, particularly as researchers pursue a wide range of careers.

As a Lancaster Researcher:

  1. Take ownership of their career, identifying opportunities to work towards career goals, including engaging in a minimum of 10 days professional development pro rata per year. - Be proactive in writing a career plan, seeking advice from colleagues or a mentor, as well as attending relevant careers-focussed events or training
  2. Explore and prepare for a range of employment options across different sectors, such as by making use of mentors, career professionals, training and secondments. - Seek out career development opportunities e.g. OED’s Researcher Development Programme, Library Research Bites etc. - Join appropriate mailing lists and on- and off-line fora and other networks to keep abreast of new developments and investigate the range of possible career opportunities.
  3. Maintain an up-to-date professional career development plan and build a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their experience, that can be used to support job applications.
  4. Positively engage in career development reviews with their managers. - Review your own training needs with your PI and consider how skills and knowledge acquired during this role will support your future career goals.
  5. Seek out, and engage with, opportunities to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills.
  6. Consider opportunities to develop their awareness and experience of the wider research system through, for, example, knowledge exchange, policy development, public engagement and commercialisation. - Consider joining an internal network such as the Research Staff Association.

Tab Content: Research Manager

Environment and culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture. Healthy working environments attract and develop a more diverse workforce, impact positively on individual and institutional performance, and enhance staff engagement.

This principal recognises that 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.

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Ensure your research staff are aware of and have completed, UniversityFaculty and Departmental induction sessions, as appropriate
  2. Undertake relevant training and development opportunities related to equality, diversity and inclusion, and put this into practice in their work.
  3. Ensure that they are their researchers act in accordance with the highest standards of research integrity and professional conduct
  4. Promote a healthy working environment that supports researchers’ wellbeing and mental health, including reporting and addressing incidents of discrimination, bullying and harassment, and poor research integrity
  5. Consider fully, in accordance with statutory rights and institutional policies, flexible working requests and other appropriate arrangements to support researchers.
  6. Engage with opportunities to contribute to policy development aimed at creating a more positive research environment and culture within their institution.

Employment

Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions. Provision of good employment conditions for researchers has positive impacts on researcher wellbeing, the attractiveness of research careers, and research excellence.

The Principal recognises the importance of fair, transparent and merit –based recruitment, progression and promotion, effective performance management, and a good work-life balance. All stakeholders need to address long-standing challenges around insecurity of employment and career progression, ensuring equality of experience and opportunity for all, irrespective of background, contract type and personal circumstances.

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Undertake relevant training and development opportunities so that they can manager researchers effectively and fulfil their duty of care
  2. Familiarise themselves and work in accordance with, relevant employment legislation and codes of practice, institutional policies, and the terms and conditions of grant funding.
  3. Commit to, and evidence, the inclusive, equitable and transparent recruitmentpromotion, and reward of researchers.
  4. Actively engage in regular constructive performance management with their researchers - Initiate the probation and PDR processes and use constructively to be clear about expectations, establish objectives and agree on development needs.
  5. Engage with opportunities to contribute to relevant policy development within their institution.

Professional and career Development

Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential. Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse global research environment and employment market.

This Principal recognises the importance of continuous professional and career development, particularly as researchers pursue a wide range of careers.

Managers of researchers must:

  1. Engage in regular career development discussions with their researchers, including holding a career development review at least annually.
  2. Support researchers in exploring and preparing for a diversity of careers, for example, through the use of mentors and career professionalstraining, and secondments.
  3. Allocate a minimum of 10 days pro rata, per year, for either researchers to engage with professional development, supporting researchers to balance the delivery of their research and their own professional development
  4. Identify opportunities, and allow time (in addition to the 10 days professional development allowance), for their researchers to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills, and provide appropriate credit and recognition for their endeavours.
  5. Engage in leadership and management training to enhance their personal effectiveness, and to promote a positive attitude to professional development.
  6. Discuss career plans, exploring potential options with research staff, including the Careers Service at least 6 months before the end of contract.
  7. Explore opportunities for continued research staff employment, e.g. project extension, follow-on projects etc., including sharing and making use of your personal networks and contacts, where appropriate.

Tab Content: Institution

Environment and culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture. Healthy working environments attract and develop a more diverse workforce, impact positively on individual and institutional performance, and enhance staff engagement

This principal recognises that 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.

Institutions must:

  1. Ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the concordat
  2. Ensure that institutional policies and practices relevant to researchers are inclusive, equitable and transparent, and are well communicated to researchers and their managers.
  3. Promote good mental health and wellbeing through, for example, the effective management of workloads and people, and effective polities and practice for tackling discrimination, bullying and harassment, including providing appropriate support for those reporting issues.
  4. Ensure that managers of researchers are effectively trained in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing and mental health.
  5. Ensure researchers and their managers are aware of, and act in accordance with, the highest standards of research integrity
  6. Regularly review and report on the quality of the research environment and culture, including seeking feedback from researchers, and use the outcomes to improve institutional practices.

 

Employment

Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions. Provision of good employment conditions for researchers has positive impacts on researcher wellbeing, the attractiveness of research careers, and research excellence.

The Principal recognises the importance of fair, transparent and merit –based recruitment, progression and promotion, effective performance management, and a good work-life balance. All stakeholders need to address long-standing challenges around insecurity of employment and career progression, ensuring equality of experience and opportunity for all, irrespective of background, contract type and personal circumstances.

Institutions must:

  1. Ensure open, transparent and merit-based recruitment, which attracts excellent researchers, using fair and inclusive selection and appointment practice.
  2. Provide an effective induction, ensuring that research are integrated into the community and aware of policies and practices relevant to their position.
  3. Provide clear and transparent merit-based reward and promotion pathways that recognise the full range of researchers’ contributions, and the diversity of personal circumstances
  4. Provide effective line and project management training opportunities for managers of researchers, heads of department and equivalent.
  5. Ensure that excellent people management is championed throughout the organisation and embedded in institutional culture, through annual Performance Development Reviews, transparent promotional criteria, and workload allocation.
  6. Seek to improve job security for researchers, for example through more effective redeployment processes and greater use of open-ended contracts, and report on progress.
  7. Consider researchers and their managers as key stakeholders within the institution and provide them with formal opportunities to engage with relevant organisational policy and decision making.

 

Professional and career development

Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential. Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse global research environment and employment market.

This Principal recognises the importance of continuous professional and career development, particularly as researchers pursue a wide range of careers.

Institutions must:

  1. Provide opportunities, structured support, encouragement and time for researchers to engage in a minimum of 10 days professional development pro rata per year, recognising that researchers will pursue careers across a wide range of employment sectors.
  2. Provide training, structured support, and time for managers to engage in meaningful career development reviews with their researchers
  3. Ensure that researchers have access to professional advice on career management across a breadth of careers.
  4. Provide researchers with opportunities, and time, to develop their research identity and broader leadership skills.
  5. Recognise that moving between and working across, employment sectors can bring benefits to research and researchers, and support opportunities for researchers to experience this.
  6. Monitor, and report on, the engagement of researchers and their managers with professional development activities, and researcher career development reviews.