The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

As an agreement between Stakeholders, the Concordat to support the Career Development of Researchers (also known as the Researcher Development Concordat), is a document to support researchers’ career development and the research environment.

What is the Concordat?

The Concordat sets out in three clear principles: Environment and Culture, Employment and Professional and Career Development, the obligations for the four key stakeholder groups: Funders, Institutions, Researchers and Managers of Researchers to realise the aims of the Concordat. It aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of the UK society and its economy

When was it launched?

The original Concordat was launched in summer 2008 and since then there has been many developments within the research environment.  In 2018, an independent review was undertaken and a revised Concordat was published in September 2019.  On 4th February 2020, The University of Edinburgh became a signatory to the Concordat. By signing this document, the University is demonstrating its continued commitment and ongoing support of research staff careers, but also to working in partnership with other institutions and funders to explore more systematic changes.

The current Concordat can be downloaded from the Researcher Development Concordat website:

The Researcher Development Concordat website [External site]

What are we doing about it at Edinburgh?

The University undertook a lengthy consultation process and gap analysis to compare polices and practice against the Concordat principles, raise the visibility of the Concordat at the University and identify several activities which enable us to meet our signatory responsibilities. 

A Concordat Implementation Group (CIG) was convened in March 2020 and continue to meet to track progress of our action plan and the Committee’s broad representation will ensure we are continuing to support researchers at all stages of their careers.  

Concordat Implementation Group

Concordat Action Plans:

In March 2021 we published our first 2-year action plan (2021-2023).  Our second 2-year action plan (2023-2025) was published in April 2023.  Further information can be found on our Concordat Reporting pages, on the Research Staff Hub:

Concordat Reporting

Reporting and Monitoring:

The implementation of the action plan will be managed by the Researcher Development team in the IAD in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and the CIG.  There will also be regular reporting to the Research Strategy Group.

Current Progress against our signatory responsibilities:

Action Outcome
Raise the visibility of the Concordat and champion its Principles within their organisation at all levels.  Achieved – extensive consultation and promotion from October 2019 – present. 
Identify a senior manager champion and associated group with relevant representation from across the organisation with responsibility for annual review and reporting on progress Achieved – Dr Fiona Philippi, Head of Researcher Development and the Concordat Implementation Group (CIG), which includes representation from all Colleges and includes; staff who support Postdocs, Human Resources, Edinburgh Research Office, Library Support Team, Academics, Research Staff Societies and Postdoc Champions. 
For organisations employing researchers, ensure that they are formally represented in developing and monitoring organisational efforts to implement the Concordat Principles. 

Achieved – Research staff are represented on the Concordat Implementation Group and the Research Staff Society network actively engaged in plans to build representation on other committees.

Undertake a gap analysis to compare their policies and practice against the Concordat Principles.  Achieved – reviewed by Concordat Implementation Group in March 2020 and again in February 2023. 
Draw up and publish an action plan within a year of signing the Concordat.  Achieved – published our first action plan March 2021, and second April 2023
Set up processes for systematically and regularly gathering the views of researchers they fund or employ, to inform and improve the organisation’s approach to and progress on implementing the Concordat.  Achieved – Concordat Implementation Group (with strong research staff representation) will deliver this.   We will also provide regular blog and newsletter updates on progress and initiatives.
Produce an annual report to their governing body or equivalent authority, which includes their strategic objectives, measures of success, implementation plan and progress, which subsequently is publicly available. 

Achieved –  Our Concordat reports and action plans have been presented to the Research Strategy Group, who have approved for publication on the following dates:

The Concordat first year report and action plan progress - 18th April 2022. 

The Concordat second year report and new two-year action plan - 18th April 2023. 

Concordat Reporting

Code of Practice:

In 2008, we launched The University of Edinburgh Code of Practice for the Management and Career Development of Research Staff and updated it in 2015 and 2022. The Code provides guidance for research staff at Edinburgh on implementing a number of the Concordat principles.

Code of Practice for the Management and Career Development of Research Staff

The University successfully gained the 'HR Excellence in Research Award' from the European Commission back in 2010 and then retained it over a number of internal and external reviews until September 2020.  This has now been superseded at the University by the 2019 Concordat, which we feel is a more effective driver for change internally. 

Do you have something to add?

If you are a researcher, research manager, or any other staff group with an interest in the Concordat, and you would like to give us feedback on what you think we should be doing, do get in touch with us.

Research staff and principal investigator (PI) support

Contact details