The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

Commonly known as the Researcher Development Concordat, is an agreement between stakeholders to improve the employment and support for researchers and researcher careers in higher education in the UK.

It sets out three clear principles of environment and culture, employment, and professional and career development. The principles are underpinned by obligations for the four key stakeholder groups, funders, institutions, researchers, and managers of researchers, to realise the aims of the concordat.

What is the background to the concordat?

An original agreement was made in 1996, called A Concordat to Provide a Framework for the Career Management of Contract Research Staff in Universities and Colleges, between funding bodies and universities. It aimed to improve the support for contract research staff (now more usually termed research staff) in their career development.

Find the full history of the concordat here.


What is the context now?

The UK government published the R&D People and Culture Strategy in 2021 which aims to facilitate a research culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates the flow of talent across the whole R&D ecosystem. It sets out objectives categorised by three pillars – People, Culture and Talent – which, together, have an overall ambition of attracting and retaining an additional 150,000 researchers by 2030. The concordat is a tool to catalyse this strategy and achieve the goal of creating a more positive, diverse, inclusive and open research culture.

University research

Researcher Development Concordat Strategy Group

The Researcher Development Concordat Strategy Group (RDCSG) is responsible for promoting the implementation of the principles of the Researcher Development concordat across the UK, in line with its implementation strategy and in partnership with other bodies. The group iteratively reviews the concordat to ensure it reflects the current research landscape, advise the secretariat on engagement activities and monitoring processes. 

The RDCSG is comprised of representatives from funding bodies, higher education institutions, and other organisations and associations from within and outside of higher education that are signatories to the concordat’s values. 

As governing body of the concordat, the RDCSG have committed to the following activities. 
  1. Maintain a steering group to oversee the implementation and review of the concordat with appropriate sector representation, including key stakeholder groups and other stakeholders.
  2. Report annually to the relevant Minister and devolved administrations on key activities and progress in implementing the concordat.
  3. Ensure that the concordat, and strategies for communication and implementation, remains relevant to the wider research system and in line with the other research-related concordats, relevant legislation, frameworks or other relevant external influences.
  4. Publish and regularly update a UK implementation plan for the concordat, including a communications plan, to ensure a coherent and sustained approach by the sector.
  5. Set up specific working groups on topics where there are systemic challenges that require the engagement of multiple stakeholders, for example in seeking ways to provide more security of employment for researchers, improving the research culture, and aligning the Concordat with other concordats and frameworks.
  6. Work with relevant stakeholders to develop a consistent and robust way of tracking the careers of researchers to facilitate better understanding of career pathways, within and beyond academia, to inform Concordat related activities.
  7. Maintain the Concordat as an online living document, reflecting changes in the research system and understanding of good practice.
  8. Provide a platform to share practice and promote this for the benefit of the research community and its beneficiaries.
  9. Commission and publish a major review of the implementation of the Concordat after three years.