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Reports and data sources

UK Research and Innovation is committed to career development, high level skills and training of researchers to ensure the excellence of the UK research base.

UK Research and Innovation support over 30,000 researchers at any one time including 17,000 doctoral students, 14,000 research staff and fellowships. Through research grants, research councils may provide funding for academic staff’s time as Principal Investigators or Co-Investigators.

The most common occupation for doctoral graduates is research (accounting for over a third of doctoral graduates with a fifth of the total being in higher education). Education and teaching is the second most common destination. More information on researchers’ careers is available in the “What Do Researchers Do?” series available on the Vitae website.

Individual research councils undertake assessments of the quality and impact of UK research, often focusing on particular subject areas. See the research councils’ websites for information on impact and evaluations.

Researcher development

The Impact of Doctoral Careers is an in-depth report which confirms the crucial role doctoral graduates play in UK businesses. The report states that over three quarters of employers believe that the loss of doctoral graduates would have a major impact on their business and one in five see doctoral graduates as ‘business critical’.

Sustainability of the UK research workforce, a report by the former Research Councils UK, describes the range of activities that are intended to help inform the UK research community and policymakers about the sustainability of the UK research base. One element of the report focuses on potential skills gaps in the research sector. It identifies key areas of research, such as language based area studies, green technologies and health economics, which exhibit an increased need for further expertise in their fields.

External publications:

The Report on the 2013 Survey of the Impact of the Funding Change for Researcher Development (PDF, 213KB) is intended to enable institutions to compare their position with overall directions and context. The survey covered: institutional strategy for researcher development; its organisation and delivery; feedback and review mechanisms; funding issues and remaining or emerging challenges and opportunities.

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across all four nations of the UK, and in colleges in Scotland. Publications on Equality in Higher Education are available from the ECU website.

Vitae support an Impact and Evaluation Group which aims to 'propose a meaningful and workable way of evaluating the effectiveness of skills development in early career researchers'. Publications include a framework for evaluating training and development activities for researchers and are available from the Vitae website.

Data services

Gateway to Research aims to provide a mechanism for businesses and other interested parties to identify potential partners in universities to develop and commercialise knowledge, and maximise the impact of publicly funded research.

The Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) gathers anonymous data about working conditions, career aspirations and career development opportunities for research staff in UK higher education. Vitae has published analyses of the results on their website.

The Electronic Thesis Online Service (EThOS) is the UK’s national thesis service and aims to maximise the visibility and availability of the UK’s doctoral research theses. The EThOS website, supported by the British Library, is available for free searches.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) is the official agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of quantitative information about higher education. The HESA website provides further information on data from collections which cover staff, students and student destinations.

The Principal Investigators and Research Leaders Survey (PIRLS) gathers the anonymous views and experience of research leaders in UK higher education institutions. Vitae has published analyses of the results on their website.