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The University of Southampton
Working as a Researcher

The Concordat

Front page of the Concordat 2019

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers often referred to as the Researcher Development Concordat is an important national document that ‘sets out the conditions we believe are required to create the very best culture for our researchers to thrive.’

The University has been implementing the Concordat since 2011 - see our action plans below.  By implementing the Concordat, the University is aligning with the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their Recruitment.  We have been recognised for our work by achieving and retaining the HR Excellence in Research award, which we have held since 2012. In July 2022, we submitted a 10 year review of progress - please see: 2020-2022 Action/Bridging plan (updated); 10 Year Review - report; and HREiR Action plan template under Key Documentation below.

Until 2023, the HREiR process will operate within our overarching Concordat 2021-2023 Action Plan (for becoming a signatory to the revised version of the Researcher Development Concordat).  We will seek to align both processes by July 2024. 

logo and link for HR Excellence in Research

We became a signatory to the revised version of the Researcher Development Concordat in November 2020. 

The document contains three key principles covering:

  1. Environment and Culture
  2. Employment
  3. Professional and Career Development

The document details the responsibilities of four key stakeholder groups, cast as obligations, for:

For the revised version of the Research Development Concordat we have conducted a gap analysis, produced a new Action Plan for November 2021, and established five Working Groups to explore and make recommendations in strategic areas identified by our gap analysis.  Each Working Group is led by a Faculty Concordat Champion. 

From July 2022, we linked the work of the Working Groups with the University's new Research, People, Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise, and International strategic plans and priorities. To view our 2021-2023 Action Plan, please see Key Documentation below. 

Key Documentation

Researcher Development Concordat Annual Report Nov 2023

Synthesis of the Researcher Development Concordat Working Group reports June 2023

Researcher Development Concordat Annual Report Nov 2022

10 Year Review - report on progress for the HREiR award 2022

8 Year Review - report on progress 2020

6 Year Review - report on progress 2018

4 Year Review - report on progress 2016

2 Year Review - report on progress 2014


Action Plan Nov 2022

HREiR Action plan template 2022-2024 - (new)

2020-2022 Action/bridging plan (updated 2022)

2021-2023 Action Plan (Concordat signatory process) 

Concordat Commitment Letter November 2020

2016-2020 Action Plan and Implementation Status May/July 2020

2016-2020 Action Plan and Implementation Status May 2018

2011-2016 Action_Plan_and_Implementation_Status_ Jan 2016

2011-2016 Action Plan and Implementation Status_24 Jan 2014

Initial review and action plan 2011

Why does the Concordat Matter?

The University is committed to delivering world-class research and to creating a community that values independent thought and encourages originality and innovation among its staff and students. It is through our staff that the University has distinguished itself internationally as a hub of invention, creativity and research leadership. We will attract, reward, nurture and retain staff of the highest academic ability, working to create a dynamic, exciting and profoundly interconnected research environment in which they can flourish.

The Concordat is a key policy driver and enabling document for ensuring we place researchers at the heart of realising our strategic ambition. The Concordat requires us as employers and employees to take our policies, procedures, rights and responsibilities seriously. The Concordat has important implications for the following groups:

  • Researchers
  • Researcher managers/Principal Investigators (PIs)
  • Senior managers and management teams in Faculties and Professional Services
  • HR Specialists
  • Staff developers
  • Careers specialists

The Vitae Concordat webpage contains lots of useful information, including briefing notes for all of the above groups, strategy, news and events.

What is the University doing about the Concordat?

In January 2012, the European Commission presented the University of Southampton with the HR (Human Resources) Excellence in Research award in recognition of our commitment to implementing the Concordat. This award was an important step towards ensuring that the Principles of the Concordat are applied throughout the organisation in an equitable and meaningful way so as to make a genuine difference to the experience and employment prospects of our research staff.

The University has:

  • Created Concordat Champions in each Faculty to ensure greater research staff representation at Faculty and institutional levels, and the local implementation of the principles.
  • Established the Career Development of Researchers Working Group (CDR WG), revised in 2019 to the Concordat Advisory Group (CAG), which has oversight of the implementation of The Concordat.
  • Conducted an institutional ‘gap’ analysis and identified areas for action, which we continue to monitor and discuss at CAG and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Aligned Concordat governance with other institutional awards, i.e. Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charter, under the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Produced an implementation plan in 2011, which was reviewed regularly and revised in 2016 (see 2016-2020 Action Plan) and reviewed in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • Created a Bridging Action Plan (2020-2022) to enable us to transition to the 2019 Researcher Development Concordat.
  • Became signatories to the 2019 version in November 2020, conducted a gap analysis and developed a two year action plan by November 2021.
  • Invited researchers to participate in the Careers in Research On-line Survey (CROS 2009/2011/2013/2015/2017/2019) and in the Culture, Employment and Development in Academic Research Survey (CEDARS) in 2020.
  • We periodically review our recruitment processes against the Open, Transparent and Merit Based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R) checklist.

The University of Southampton retained the HR Excellence in Research award in 2014 following an internal review, in 2016 following an external review, in 2018, following an internal review and again in 2020 following an external review.

In 2021-2022, the CAG established five Working groups, each led by a Faculty Concordat Champion and in partnership with a Professional Service, i.e. HR, Careers Service, or CHEP.  Membership of the working groups includes researchers and researcher managers. 

Further information about the working groups can be found HERE 

What is my role within the Concordat?

All staff connected with research should:

  • Familiarise themselves with the principles of the Concordat
  • Be aware of the University and their Faculty’s Action Plans
  • Apply existing HR processes and procedures to researchers

PIs/line managers of researchers should:

  • Have a specific responsibility to ensure HR policies and procedures are always applied to researchers
  • Enable researchers to build their CVs and develop their professional careers

Research staff are encouraged to:

  • Join their local research staff group or post-doc association, to participate in the implementation process in their Faculty and/or academic unit
  • Be pro-active e.g. raise issues, vocalise concerns and share examples of good practice
  • Participate in CEDARS
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