NERC publishes best practice principles in doctoral recruitment

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The principles support NERC’s Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is committed to prioritising DEI and acknowledges our responsibility, as a funder, to encourage an inclusive and diverse environmental science research community.

We are also committed to working collaboratively with the community on joint action. The ‘best practice principles in recruitment and training at doctoral level’ was developed with input from the NERC Advisory Network (NAN), and directors and managers of NERC’s CDTs and DTPs.

Best practice principles

NERC’s best practice principles set out the minimum considerations for training grant holders and cover the four stages of recruitment and training:

  • finding talent: to make the PhD pathway accessible and attract potential applicants who may not currently view a PhD as accessible to them
  • shortlisting and interviews: to ensure the applicant shortlisting and interview process is fair and transparent
  • nurturing talent: to make the student training experience as inclusive as possible
  • monitoring and reporting: to be used effectively to foster a diverse and inclusive environment.


NERC expects CDTs and DTPs to start, or continue implementing, the most appropriate principles for their model, from the recruitment of students starting in October 2022. For example, DTP cohort four.

By autumn 2022 NERC will collect information on the use and impacts of the best practice implemented to inform future doctoral training investments.

Indicators of success would include:

  • elements of these best practice principles having been thoughtfully implemented, monitored and reported on through annual reporting and monitoring cycles
  • lessons learned considered for future implementation, enabling continuous improvement to address DEI related challenges.

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