Glossary of Terms

  • Researchers

    Individuals whose primary responsibility is to conduct research and who are employed specifically for this purpose by a higher education institution or research institute. Within this group, it is recognised that these staff often have different contract types, levels of training, experiences, and responsibility, as well as different career expectations and intentions. Disciplinary and institutional context can also mean a broad range of job titles fall within this definition.

    There are many other groups of individuals who actively engage in research within institutions and who would be expected to develop their research identity as part of their career progression, including postgraduate researchers, staff on teaching and research or teaching-only contracts, clinicians, professional support staff and technicians. However, whilst we encourage institutions to apply the benefits of the concordat to as many of these groups as is feasible, the primary audience for this concordat remains research staff.

    Where institutions extend the beneficiaries of the concordat to wider groups of researchers, they should communicate clearly to which groups the concordat applies and inform those communities of their rights and obligations.

  • Managers of Researchers

    This includes all individuals who have direct line management responsibility for ‘researchers’ as defined above. These managers will frequently be principal or co-investigators on research grants, although it is recognised that some research staff may be grant-holders and be line-managed by another senior researcher or head of unit. Where institutions designate other researchers as falling within the concordat, then the managers/supervisors of these individuals would also be included in this category. It is also recognised that outside of this group of direct line managers, other staff have management responsibilities that have direct and important influence on the research environment, culture and working conditions. These include heads of faculty, department, unit, and research directors, all of whom play a key role in ensuring that centrally agreed policies and practices in support of the concordat are effectively implemented within their units.  

  • Institutions

    This includes higher education institutions and research institutes, as employers of researchers. There are many different types of institutions with varying missions, profiles, and structures, as well as numbers of researchers. Many of the obligations outlined in this document are the direct responsibility of senior management and, ultimately, the governing body. However, it is recognised that within institutions there are different levels of responsibility, and it is important that all relevant staff work together to implement the concordat to drive the necessary change. It is also important to recognise the collective responsibilities of the wider research community for instilling and maintaining a supportive and stimulating research culture and environment. Staff within this wider community play essential roles in activities such as mentoring researchers and being positive role models.

  • Funders

    This includes any organisation or institution which provides funding for public or private research, either through direct funding for research or through block funding. It is recognised that there are different types of funders within the research system with different missions and objectives, including public sector funders, charities, industry, and businesses. Some universities and research institutes fund research directly and may also be designated as funders. Given this diversity, different funders will need to consider how best to meet, or work towards, the responsibilities outlined in the relevant sections of this Concordat. Some responsibilities may need to be adapted or, occasionally, might not be relevant or appropriate to some funders.

  • Other stakeholders

    There is a range of other stakeholders interested in the successful implementation of the concordat principles, including the academies, professional bodies, professional networks, representative and membership organisations, and researcher associations and networks. These organisations all have a role to play in achieving the aims of the concordat and promoting its benefits across their communities. Many of these stakeholders may also wish to determine which of the principles, and associated obligations, are particularly relevant for their organisation, and set out how they will work towards meeting these.

  • 10 days’ professional development training

    An allowance for researchers to develop their professional competencies and gain experience to support their future career. Examples might include attending a training course or workshop, workplace shadowing, participating in a mentoring scheme (as mentor or mentee), committee membership, participating in policy development, public engagement, or knowledge exchange activities

  • Bridging facilities

    Bridging funding supports continuity of employment where current funding is ending, but there is a strong likelihood of additional funding being available in the near future.

  • Career development

    The ongoing process of researchers taking responsibility for, and managing, their careers, through seeking professional advice and working towards set goals.  A key element is documenting a career development plan, which is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

  • Career development review

    A regular review of a researcher’s career development, typically involving identification of opportunities to improve future career prospects, and related goal setting. This can be distinguished from a Performance Development Review which is typically more focused on performance in their current role.

  • Flexible working

    A way of working to suit employee needs, which may involve working different hours each day, or weeks each year, or working from another location or in some other different way. All researchers have a right to request flexible working.

  • Gap Analysis

    A concordat gap analysis is an organisational review of how it is meeting each of its obligations within the concordat principles that identifies: whether it fully meets an obligation, and the evidence to support this; is working towards this, and how; or the obligation does not apply, and why.

  • Governing body

    The group of people who have the authority to exercise governance over an organisation. In universities, this is usually called ‘The Council’. The membership normally includes a significant number of individuals independent of the institution.

  • Inclusive research culture

    An open culture which encourages researchers from all backgrounds to be themselves at work, to contribute ideas, and be supported in their ongoing development.

  • Insecurity of employment

    This is associated with people (e.g., researchers) who have little job security, and typically are employed on fixed-term contracts, which can impact negatively on their personal lives and opportunities and is associated with increased levels of stress.

  • Knowledge Exchange

    Disseminating research to business, the charitable and public sectors and/or the wider community, for the benefit of the economy and society.

  • Mentoring

    Mentoring is an ongoing, usually long-term, relationship between a more experienced or qualified person (the mentor) and a ‘mentee’. The purpose is to provide guidance to support the mentee through their career and personal development, through formal and informal meetings.

  • Mobility

    Moving between different geographical locations or employment sectors to further career progression. Experience of different environments is seen as positive for a researcher’s career but can also be out of necessity or not achievable for all researchers.

  • Open, transparent, and merit-based recruitment

    The process of ensuring that recruitment and selection processes are fair, that the selection criteria are clear and open, and decisions are based on merit and unbiased.

  • Performance Development Review (PDR)

    A formal assessment of the performance of an employee over a particular period, including discussion of progress and professional goals. It can be used to identify skills gaps and training needs.

  • Performance Management

    Overseeing an employees’ work-related performance to ensure that work objectives are met in an effective and efficient manner.

  • Public engagement

    Public engagement describes the many ways in which the activity and benefits of research can be shared with the wider public. Engagement is typically a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, aimed at generating mutual benefit which results in greater relevance, accountability and transparency.

  • Redeployment

    A process that aims to give employees who are coming to the end of a fixed-term contract, or whose jobs are at risk, the chance to find a new role within the organisation.

  • Research culture

    Research culture encompasses the behaviours, values, expectations, incentives, attitudes and norms of a research community. It determines the way that research is conducted and communicated and can influence researchers’ career paths and mental wellbeing.

  • Research environment

    This typically refers to tangible aspects of the environment, including legal requirements, physical settings, availability of facilities and other resources, and opportunities to interact with a wide range of researchers, but it can be used to include the cultural aspects outlined above.

  • Research identity

    Researchers increasing their impact by developing their professional research competencies and reputation through activities such as teaching, publishing, conference presentations/organisation, grant proposal writing, networking, managing budgets, knowledge exchange and secondments.

  • Research integrity

    Demonstrating high standards in the conduct of research to maintain and enhance confidence in the ethics and rigour of research outcomes. Core elements include honesty, rigour, transparency and care and respect for all participants in research. Find out more about the Research Integrity Concordat here.

  • Research misconduct

    Behaviour or actions that fall short of the standards of ethics, research and scholarship required to ensure that the integrity of research is upheld.

  • Signatories

    Organisations that sign up to the Concordat, and thereby openly commit to implementing and reporting progress on its expectations.

  • Stakeholders

    Groups and individuals with a common interest in the successful implementation of the concordat.

  • Workload

    The amount and type of work an employee is expected to do in each time period. In UK universities TRAC is used to allocate work activities across academic staff.