Extracting maximum value from a unified process


The University of Surrey is proud to announce that for the first time it has submitted combined documentation to extend its holding of the Human Resources Excellence in Research Award (HREiR) and demonstrate commitment to the Researcher Development Concordat (RDC), after aligning its reporting for both initiatives.

The university has held the HREiR award since 2012 and became a signatory to the RDC in 2020. Aligning reporting offered Surrey the opportunity to engage in a more robust assessment of its successes in supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and more holistic identification of areas for improvement. Aligning reporting processes also helped streamline efforts by negating the need to file separate reports at different times, but it did increase the scope of the endeavour, requiring renewed investment from institutional leadership and thinking, a refreshed approach to stakeholder engagement, and new commitments in staffing.

To extract maximum value from aligning Surrey’s reporting to the HREiR award and the RDC, the former HREiR Working Group was renamed the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers Steering Committee. A strategic decision was taken to have the committee chaired by a senior member of university staff who could also champion both initiatives, with Professor David Sampson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Innovation, assuming the role of chair.

Professor Sampson widened the membership of the Steering Committee to include a broader pool of stakeholders, while his decision to chair represented investment from the top of university leadership in delivering upon the institutional commitment to the principles of the RDC. The new ambitious scope of the new Steering Committee also required additional resources. The decision of the Doctoral College (DC) in 2021 to recruit a member of staff with the specific brief to lead on ECR engagement and on the HREiR and RDC reporting process was vital, providing specialist administrative support and advice, and representing a novel investment in staffing, underlining Surrey’s commitment to the RDC.

The Steering Committee’s membership then cooperated in creating, annotating, and editing the documents required for the submission in a newly created Teams site, with the collaborative documents allowing colleagues to pool their ideas and work together in deciding future priorities. It was particularly helpful to have in the Steering Committee university leaders with knowledge of initiatives similar in scope to the RDC. For example, Professor Emily Farran, academic lead for Research Culture and Integrity, whose experience in integrating the concordats related to Research Integrity and Open Research Data into university operations provided invaluable in the development of the final documentation for the HREiR and RDC reporting processes.

The documents that form the University of Surrey’s aligned submission are now publicly available. The Steering Committee will next meet in October to assess progress in implementing the new action plan in light of feedback gathered from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as Vitae, the custodian of the HREiR award.

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