Welcome to the Research Staff part of the BU Research Blog! In this section you can find out information about our Research Staff Association, training and development opportunities for research staff, careers guidance, and what BU is doing to implement the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.
Vitae is the UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes, and they often run courses and events aimed specifically at staff and postgraduate researchers. The Vitae website is an excellent source of information for researchers and managers of researchers – http://www.vitae.ac.uk/
BU Code of Practice for the Employment and Career Development of Research Staff
In 2014 BU published its first Code of Practice for the Employment and Development of Research Staff. The code provides guidance on the University’s expectations for the recruitment, support, management and development of research staff in line with the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers (2008) and the European Charter for Researchers (2005). It is relevant to research staff and their managers as well as to BU staff in general. It has been written by the University’s Research Concordat Steering Group and is one of the objectives from our action plan to further align BU’s policy and practice to the seven principles of the Concordat and to further improve the working environment for research staff at BU.
BU Research Staff Association
Formed in 2014, the BU Research Staff Association (RSA) is a forum to promote BU research culture. Research staff from across BU are encouraged to attend to network with others researchers, disseminate their work, discuss career opportunities, hear updates on how BU is implementing the Research Concordat, and give feedback or raise concerns that will help to develop and support the research community at BU. Find out further information and the dates of upcoming meetings here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/researcher-toolbox/bu-research-staff-association/
Training and development opportunities for researchers
The Research and Knowledge Exchange (RKE) Development Framework offers a range of opportunities for academics at all career stages to develop their skills, knowledge and capabilities in relation to research and knowledge exchange. It has been implemented in response to the changing external environment, and developed in consultation with academic colleagues to ensure a strategic fit between the training and development opportunities on offer, and the needs and wishes of academic colleagues. We trust that the agile and flexible nature of the framework will appeal to colleagues undertaking research and knowledge exchange activities across the university.
Postgraduate researchers can already access training opportunities as part of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework – for further information see the PGR section of this blog.
Vitae’s Leadership Development for Principal Investigators is an excellent source of information and guidance for all new and aspiring Principal Investigators and covers topics such as staff and resource management, project planning and report writing. In addition Organisational Development run a number of excellent courses that are open to BU staff – current opportunities are available here: https://staffintranet.bournemouth.ac.uk/workingatbu/staffdevelopmentandengagement/
All staff researchers will have an annual appraisal with their line manager to identify longer-term development needs and a personal and professional development plan is agreed as part of the process. Further information about the staff appraisal process is available on the I:drive – I:\Personnel\Public\Staff Handbook\Appraisal Documentation
Researchers can access careers guidance and support about various career pathways from the Placement and Careers Service based on Talbot Campus. Research Councils UK (RCUK) has published research career case studies, designed to inspire people to think about pursuing a career in research. Each case study tells a personal story of how the individual got involved in research, what it takes to be a researcher, and their rewarding experiences from their chosen career paths. The case studies cover a wide range of disciplines including arts and humanities; maths; biology; social sciences; and physics. The case studies highlight the opportunities research skills can give, not only in academia but also in the wider world of business, industry and commerce. The case studies can be found at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/careersinresearch.
You can access a wealth of useful information on careers guidance for research staff here: http://blogs.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/researcher-toolbox/researcher-development/careers-guidance-for-research-staff/
BU Bridging Fund Scheme
BU operates a Bridging Fund Scheme which aims to provide additional stability to fixed-term researchers who continue to rely heavily on short-term contracts usually linked to external funding. This situation sometimes impacts negatively on continuity of employment and job security and can result in a costly loss of researcher talent for the institution. The scheme aims to mitigate these circumstances by redeploying the researcher where possible, or where feasible, by providing ‘bridging funding’ for the continuation of employment for a short-term (maximum three months) between research grants. It is intended to permit the temporary employment, in certain circumstances, of researchers between fixed-term contracts at BU, for whom no other source of funding is available, in order to:
(a) encourage the retention of experienced and skilled staff, and sustain research teams and expertise;
(b) avoid the break in employment and career which might otherwise be faced by such staff;
(c) maximise the opportunity for such staff to produce high-quality outputs and/or research impact at the end of funded contracts/grants.
Further details are available here: BU Bridging Fund Scheme
ECR BU Facebook group
The ECR BU Facebook group has been set up and is administered by one of our current researchers and provides a social networking area for BU researchers to meet and discuss/share ideas, particularly those around being an ECR and career development. You can join the group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/265825716854423/
Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers
The Concordat aims to make universities and other employers of researchers provide a supportive employment structure for researchers and provide career development opportunities, e.g. skills training, appraisal and career guidance. Signatories to the Concordat will expect universities and employers receiving grants from them to comply with the tenets of the Concordat.
A full version of the Concordat and further information about the Concordat are available from the Vitae website here: http://www.researchconcordat.ac.uk
The seven principles of the Concordat are:
1. Recruitment and selection – Recognition of the importance of recruiting, selecting and retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research.
2. Recognition and value – Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation’s human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.
3. Support and career development 1 – Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment.
4. Support and career development 2 – The importance of researchers’ personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career.
5. Researchers’ responsibilities – Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning.
6. Equality and diversity – Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers.
7. Implementation and review – The sector and all stakeholders will undertake regular and collective review of their progress in strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK.
Vitae have published an excellent series of guides about implementing the Concordat. These are available here:
In 2012, BU undertook a gap analysis and drew up an initial action plan 2012-14, for the implementation of the Concordat to Support the Development of Researchers at Bournemouth University.
In 2014, BU undertook an internal review of its progress, and reported on completed actions from the initial action plan. This included an action plan 2015-17, including a review of completed actions. The latest updated action plan is available here:
This action plan has been approved by the European Commission and Bournemouth University has been awarded the EC HR Excellence in Research Award. The Award recognizes the work BU has already undertaken to improve the working conditions and career development of all its staff undertaking research, and the University’s ongoing commitment to this agenda. Supporting the career development of all staff undertaking research is embedded in the BU2018 Strategic Plan and we now have an externally approved action plan for strengthening and improving existing practices to EU standards. Progress towards achieving the action plan is overseen by the University’s Research Concordat Steering Group, chaired by the Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation). Update are posted regularly to the Research Blog.
EC HR Excellence in Research Award: ‘A UK-wide process, incorporating the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Chapter B11: Research Degrees and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, enables institutions to gain the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award, acknowledging alignment with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment’.
For further information on the HR Excellence in Research award or on the BU Concordat action plan, please contact Julie Northam.