The UKRSA initiates research projects to survey opinion and develop additional resources for use by UK research staff. These projects are generally tied to surveys of research staff and local research staff associations, with resources and additional expertise provided by Vitae.
The UKRSA is currently involved in two projects:
1 Recognition and value of research staff
The UKRSA is currently analysing data for the following principle: ‘Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation’s human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research’
A 2010 Vitae survey of the visibility of researcher development in institutional strategies showed that seventy-five percent of institutions made a direct statement of commitment to valuing researchers, though only fifteen percent made direct reference to research staff.
A significant improvement was recorded in the proportion of research staff who felt they were integrated in their departmental and institutional research communities, and some increase in perceptions of recognition for their wider contributions to their institution. A lack of engagement has continued to be highlighted for some research staff who have had long service through multiple short contracts.
Individual performance management, via appraisals, to encourage all staff and open up opportunities for pay progression and promotion is widespread. The issue is the extent to which they are being implemented for research staff. The good news is that the appraisal or review processes undertaken by research staff has risen to almost sixty percent in 2013, up from thirty-two percent in 2002 according to those responding to the Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS). More still needs to be done to encourage and to provide appropriate support to principal investigators to undertake effective appraisals and performance management activities with their research staff
2 International comparisons of research staff career trajectories (with Irish Research Staff Association)
This project has come about due to the increasing importance of researcher career development within the European Research Area – European Commission. Data collated by the National Science Foundation is also emerging on the career paths and experiences of doctoral graduates and post-doctoral researchers in the US. The growth of open research and the implications for developing researchers for this future is also an area under review.
To be considered in this project is the impact of emerging technologies and economies, changing supply and demand of resources, social attitudes of young people and future demographic changes on what we do today and how this might change in the future, though it’s not entirely clear.
Previous UKRSA projects have centred on the creation and development of RSAs, understanding their impact, and how researchers can benefit from their institutional RSA.
These projects have resulted in the following publications:
- Understanding research staff associations and their impact
- Guide to research staff associations
- How will getting involved with a research staff association benefit you?