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Open letter to researchers: UKRI publishes action plan to support researchers

28/07/2020

Open letter to researchers: UKRI publishes action plan to support researchers

Last year, UKRI was pleased to be one of the first signatories to the revised Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. We played a leading role in the development of the revised concordat which aims to strengthen the research environment, working conditions and career development of researchers.

Today, we take this a step further by publishing our action plan, setting out our vision for how we will support researchers, technicians and innovators and drive positive culture change in the research and innovation ecosystem. The action plan emphasises the importance of ensuring that all the people whose work contributes to research are recognised, valued and supported to realise their potential.

Our action plan outlines how UKRI will embed researcher career development, the leadership and skills of research leaders, and the research environment into its funding, policies and processes. We will work with the sector to lead positive change and ensure that the UK has a skilled and well-supported research workforce with people empowered to enjoy diverse and flexible careers, whether inside or outside academia.

We will be working with research organisations to understand the barriers they face in supporting improvements in the research environment and career development of researchers.

We know that this launch comes at a challenging time. We are aware of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic across the sector. It has affected everyone, including many in precarious employment, those with caring responsibilities, and groups already under-represented across the research and innovation community. These impacts underline the importance of UKRI working with the community to achieve our action plan goals, including how we assess researcher track record, consider flexible working and recognise non-traditional career paths.

We have designed our action plan to be flexible as we want you to help us with its development. We’ll be engaging with research organisations directly, but we want to establish new ways of working so that the voices of researchers and the people in research teams are heard and listened to. There may also be options within your own organisation to contribute to the concordat implementation or other opportunities that your employers will be providing: we encourage you to engage if you can.

We want to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of researchers and innovators to the UK’s future. Your contributions will be essential to maintaining our research and innovation capacity to drive an R&D intensive economic recovery. This is about more than economics: success in the broadest sense depends on people, and it is essential that an equitable and positive research culture allows as diverse as possible a community to participate. UKRI is well placed to work with you to co-create the cultural change needed to achieve this ambition.

Yours faithfully,

Rory Duncan
UKRI Director of Talent & Skills


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