Research concordats and agreements review
Last updated on Wednesday 9 Mar 2022 on 10:59am
Universities UK, UK Research and Innovation and the Wellcome Trust commissioned Basis Social to gather insights on the adoption and impact of various concordats and agreements currently in place across the UK’s research landscape.
What are concordats and agreements?
Concordats and agreements are a significant part of the landscape of frameworks and good practices which shape research. They cover a wide range of issues that support the conditions in which research and innovation happen and have been developed in response to different challenges and opportunities. In this report, they are referred to as ‘initiatives’.
What did the review look at?
Although the concordats and agreements aim to support the research and innovation community in several ways, there has until now been no insight into their collective effect on research conditions in the UK, including culture, infrastructure, skills, policies and procedures.
This project, undertaken in summer 2021, provides for the first time ever a snapshot of the role these initiatives have had in shaping research culture and environments across the UK. This report represents an important and significant step forward for sector-wide collaboration and understanding on an important aspect of research culture in the UK
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What are the key findings?
Key findings include:
- It’s a complex landscape with limited homogeneous experience of both the concordats and agreements across institution types or roles. This means different institutions and people experience the concordats in different ways.
- It’s difficult to evidence the direct impact of the initiatives on research culture as they have been embedded into organisations’ strategies and processes. Because of the diversity within the initiatives and how they were implemented, pinpointing their direct impact on research culture is difficult.
- The report explicitly acknowledges that the initiatives do have an impact and role to play. For example, facilitating discussion on sensitive subjects and engaging senior leaders.
- The impact of the initiatives comes as much from how organisations put them into effect as it does the initiative requirements themselves. The organic development of the initiatives as a collective is matched with equally organic implementation across organisations.
- No obvious overlap between aims was found, but collectively they can create administrative burden. Tracking both initiative and institutional progress for each initiative can also be administratively challenging.
- There’s a clear call from both initiative owners and implementers to explore potential alignments to help reduce burden and coordinate reporting.
What happens next
The next phase of the project will bring together the initiative owners and key stakeholders across the research and innovation sector to co-create a way forward, to increase influence, capacity and efficiency.
This will complement the work of the Independent Review on Bureaucracy which is examining how ‘concordats within UK higher education could be streamlined and made less burdensome’ .The independent review has already committed to take this work into account during the next stage of their work.
The tender for the next phase of this work will be launched in March 2022.
Which concordats does this project engage with?
The initiatives covered in the project are:
- Concordat to Support Research Integrity
- Concordat on Open Research Data
- Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers
- Technician Commitment
- Concordat on Openness on Animal Research
- Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research
- Concordat for the Advancement of Knowledge Exchange in Higher Education
- Guidance for Safeguarding in International Development Research
- San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)
- Leiden Manifesto on Research Metrics
- Athena Swan Charter
- Race Equality Charter