STRUCTURE OF THIS DOCUMENT
The most straightforward way to present the various issues for research staff is from the start of the employment contract through to its end. The course of each member of staff’s employment with the School will not necessarily involve all steps, nor necessarily in the same order, but this Guidance will flag the information and help available at each stage, recognising that research staff will have different needs at different career stages throughout the course of their employment with the School.
WHO IS THIS GUIDANCE AIMED AT?
This guidance is aimed at all those who manage research staff, whether a single researcher or a large team, but primarily managers of salaried research staff at the LSE within the following roles:
Research Officer (Band 6)
Research Fellow (Band 7)
Senior Research Fellow (Band 8)
Principal Research Fellow (Band 9)
Professorial Research Fellow (Band 10)
Elements of this guidance may be also relevant for supporting and managing Research Assistants (Band 5) and Project Support Assistants (Bands 1-4), although these grades are covered by the Terms and Conditions for Academic Support Staff.
The behaviour of managers to a very great extent will determine whether a researcher’s experience of working at LSE is a positive or negative one as the dynamic in the relationship between researcher and research manager is uniquely different to line management relationships for other groups of staff. For example, the researcher may consider themselves reliant upon the support of their manager for their next appointment and this makes building good working relationships through effective and consistent management practice all the more important. This guidance is intended to encourage consistently high quality management practice by all those involved in supporting and managing research staff across the School.
It is hoped that researchers themselves will also find this document a helpful resource.
The School has also developed a set of desirable Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours of Managers at LSE, known as the KSBs. Although these were primarily developed with support staff in mind, the KSB framework can also serve as a tool for reflecting upon best approaches to managing staff. The School offers a range of services – including coaching – to support for managers. Managers should contact the Teaching and Learning Centre or HR’s Organisational Learning specialists to discuss their needs and available support.
THE SCHOOL CONTEXT
Research staff are broadly defined as individuals whose primary responsibility is to conduct research and who are employed by the School for this purpose. As a responsible employer, the School focuses on providing research staff with appropriate support in their current position and guidance on career progression. In the majority of cases, the next career stage is likely to involve obtaining an academic post or obtaining another research post at another institution. The School does not envisage establishing a career path for centrally funded researchers. Researchers are entitled to the same statutory provisions as other staff for sick-leave, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and payment for redundancy (where relevant).
The School employs research staff on open-ended terminable contracts which are dependent upon continued availability of external funding. Fixed-term appointments are offered only where this type of contract can be objectively justified. The School complies with the provisions of the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, in ensuring equal treatment of those on fixed-term contracts compared with those on other types of contract. Further guidance on the type of contracts used by LSE is available here: Guidance On Contracts of Employment used by the LSE.
It is recognised that the regime of fixed-term funding for many research appointments can give rise to anxieties on the part of researchers about continued employment or the next contract beyond the life of the current project. Research managers are expected to be sensitive to these issues in knowing when the funding for each researcher ends and in making efforts to support the researcher’s onward career trajectory. It should be noted that there is a legal requirement for anyone under threat of redundancy to have paid time off to seek work. It would be expected that managers would show flexibility wherever possible in considering requests for time off for these purposes e.g. to attend interviews, balancing this against the needs of the current project.
The fixed-term nature of researcher employment within the sector has led to research staff reporting that they feel marginalised and excluded from decision-making processes within their institutions. The School has addressed this in a number of ways. Research staff should be encouraged to play a full part in the life of their department/research centre and should be invited to attend departmental/centre meetings and away days as appropriate. The School has recognised the importance of proportional representation of research staff in its governance and decision-making structures and research staff are represented in the membership of for example, Academic Board (research staff bands 6-10), the Research Staff Committee and the Staff Consultative Council.
THE CONCORDAT PRINCIPLES
This Guidance is underpinned by the principles of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, which was finalised in June 2008. The Concordat sets out the expectations and responsibilities of researchers, their managers, employers and funders in supporting the career development of researchers. By setting out clear expectations for all, the Concordat aims to enhance the research workforce and thereby sustain research excellence in the UK, bringing benefits to the health, economy and well being of our nation. The Concordat consists of a set of key principles for the future support and management of research careers, and under each principle, an explanation of how it may be embedded into institutional practice. The School has interpreted this and adapted it to suit local needs and circumstances. Researchers themselves as well as research managers are expected to be aware of and to comply with the Concordat and to act responsibly and as professionals within their working environment and to recognise each other as such.
The broad principles which frame the School’s provision for research staff are as follows:
1. LSE aims to recruit and select researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research. Our recruitment procedures support equitable, fair, and transparent decision-making to ensure we are able to attract and recruit world-class research talent.
2. The contribution of researchers to LSE’s intellectual reputation and continued success in research is recognised at a strategic level in the School’s Strategic Plan and Human Resource Strategy. There is formal recognition within the School’s governance and committee hierarchy of the need for formal consideration of research staff issues through the Research Staff Committee.
3. Researchers must be equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment. The School’s arrangements for supporting the career and professional development of researchers are designed to support this objective.
4. Researchers’ professional and career development are supported during their career with the School within a positive working environment in which researchers are encouraged and expected to take ownership of their own careers, engaging pro-actively with their own career development.
5. Equality and diversity are promoted and embedded in all aspects of the School’s provision for researchers throughout the employee life cycle.
6. LSE will be pro-active in working with the sector and other key stakeholders to undertake regular and collective review of our progress in contributing towards strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK.
The LSE has been monitoring the development of the revised Concordat, and has been taking a proactive approach in ensuring that the School's policies and practices in relation to research staff are closely aligned with the key principles of the Concordat. Much of this work is being led by the Research Staff Committee, with consultations taking place with colleagues and other groups and Committees across the School.
Further information on the LSE's work in this area is available here: The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers
HR EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH AWARD
In December 2010, the School was awarded the 'HR Excellence in Research' badge from the European Commission. The LSE has been recognised by the Commission for its efforts in improving the working conditions and career development opportunities for its researchers and for providing a clear plan of action for future developments. This is the first year that the award has been made in the UK, and the LSE is one of only a few UK higher education institutions that has received it to date.
Further information on this award on how it was achieved is available here: HR Excellence in Research