UK higher education research-related concordats

These concordats outline key expectations and responsibilities of funders of research and higher education institutions (HEIs) in relation to research.

Researcher Development Concordat

The revised Concordat for Researchers was launched on 12 September 2019 and sets out the expectations and responsibilities of researchers, their managers, employers and funders. 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 UK society and the economy.

The key principles of the concordat are:

1. Environment and Culture

Excellent research requires a supportive and inclusive research culture. Healthy working environments attract and develop a more diverse workforce, impact positively on individual and institutional performance, and enhance staff engagement.

This Principle recognises that a proactive and collaborative approach is required between all stakeholders, to create and develop positive environments and cultures in which all researchers can flourish and achieve their full potential

2. Employment

Researchers are recruited, employed and managed under conditions that recognise and value their contributions. Provision of good employment conditions for researchers has positive impacts on researcher wellbeing, the attractiveness of research careers, and research excellence.

This Principle recognises the importance of fair, transparent and merit-based recruitment, progression and promotion, effective performance management, and a good work-life balance. All stakeholders need to address long-standing challenges around insecurity of employment and career progression, ensuring equality of experience and opportunity for all, irrespective of background, contract type and personal circumstances.

3. Professional and career development

Professional and career development are integral to enabling researchers to develop their full potential. Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse global research environment and employment market.

This Principle recognises the importance of continuous professional and career development, particularly as researchers pursue a wide range of careers

Concordat to support research integrity

The Department for the Economy is a signatory of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

The concordat outlines five important commitments that those engaged in research can make to help ensure that the highest standards of rigour and integrity are maintained. It also makes a clear statement about the responsibilities of researchers, employers and funders in maintaining high standards in research.

The revised concordat represents a renewed ambition to further strengthen the concordat which was published in 2012. It provides the principles and commitments to ensure that research produced by, or in collaboration with, UK universities, research institutes and others undertaking research is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The 2019 revision of the concordat was informed by the report into research integrity published by the Commons Science and Technology Committee in July 2018.

As a signatory of the concordat, DfE is committed to:

  • upholding the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research
  • ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
  • supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers
  • using transparent, timely, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct when they arise
  • working together to strengthen the integrity of research.

Research misconduct is characterised as behaviours or actions that fall short of the standards of ethics, research and scholarship required to ensure that the integrity of research is upheld.

If you feel unable to raise a concern on research misconduct in line with your organisation’s policy, for example, if the issue involves senior management, you can raise the matter via the department’s dedicated mailbox. Your concern will be managed confidentially by the department’s Fraud and Raising Concerns Branch:

Please be aware that, while the department will do everything possible to maintain confidentiality, it will be necessary to involve members of your organisation in order to have a matter fully investigated and resolved. 

The signatories of the concordat have committed to convening an annual research integrity forum to assess progress and to draw out lessons for the sector and to share good practice.

To ensure openness and accountability, the signatories to the concordat will work together to produce an annual narrative statement on research integrity and have further committed to review the Concordat every five years.

Further information

The senior member of staff responsible for oversight of research integrity is Michael Leonard email: Michael.Leonard@economy-ni.gov.uk tel: 028 9025 7745

The lead contact for research integrity is Paul Murphy email: paul.murphy@economy-ni.gov.uk tel: 028 90 416780

Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research

The Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research outlines the expectations and responsibilities of research funders, such as the Department, with respect to public engagement, to help embed public engagement in universities and research institutes. This will enhance the future of research and benefit the UK society and economy.

The concordat's key principles are:

  1. UK research organisations have a strategic commitment to public engagement
  2. researchers are recognised and valued for their involvement with public engagement activities
  3. researchers are enabled to participate in public engagement activities through appropriate training, support and opportunities
  4. the signatories and supporters of this Concordat will undertake regular reviews of their and the wider research sector’s progress in fostering public engagement across the UK

Principles for funding multi-institutional collaboration in innovation and research

This Framework of Principles relates to funding for collaborative, multi-institutional research and related research activities, such as capital investment, doctoral training, innovation, knowledge exchange, and public engagement.

Collaborations may include public or private sector research organisations, as well as business and other partner organisations where these bring distinctive contributions to the collaborative research activity.

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