Taking Control of Your Career

September has been a big month for researcher development at Edinburgh. Last week the response of the Concordat Steering Group to the Concordat Review was published. This week we have started the recruitment process* for our Inclusion Matters project (*don’t get too excited yet – but we hope to have the adverts open by mid October) and we’re about to begin the consultation for our new Strategic Leadership in Research programme which aims to build a cohort of future big grant leaders.

Today I’m in IGMM giving a short careers seminar to their postdoc network, PODS. My focus is going to be on how the following recommendation in the Concordat Review needs to be translated in action from researchers and institutions.

Recommendation 4: There should be increased support for researcher independence, including autonomy in their own career development, and the freedom to innovate.

• A revised Concordat should address the tension between PIs and postdoctoral independence, setting out clearly the obligations for both groups.

• There should be increased emphasis and support, by both funders and employers, for uptake of researchers’ 10 days training allowance.

• Development of researcher independence should be supported through allocated time within grants.

• 20% of a researcher’s time should be allowed for developing independent research and skills.

My slides are here and that final bullet point features heavily:

PODS postdoc talk

My talk will focus on the need for researchers to be able to make coherent career plans if they want to make the most of the opportunity that the new Concordat will offer (assuming that the final consultations leads to inclusion of the 20% in funders’ terms and conditions). In simple terms to make a career plan you need to know where you are and where you want to be.

I’ll also be referring to the various opportunities that are open to postdocs in the university and more widely (perhaps referencing my earlier blog on broader development) including public engagement, committee membership, funding and supervision.

In a few weeks I’ll be working with our School of Chemistry to develop a template for career conversations between researchers and their managers and will share the outputs on this blog. For now, if you are a researcher, there’s much to be pleased with in the Concordat Review, but remember that the opportunity for developing independence and skills comes with added responsibility for developing a strong career plan. Let us know how we can help you with this – and feel free to use these slides and ask for other resources if you want to run your own career seminar.

Added post session: There was interest in information about researcher career options at the workshop. The most comprehensive set of resources on this topic is on the Vitae website:

Researcher Careers

This includes 150 researcher stories, copies of various reports on doctoral and post-doctoral destinations and careers resources to help you plan your next steps, whatever sector or role appeals. For those who were interested in how to market research experience in more general terms there are sample CVs aimed at a variety of sectors.

I also mentioned that the University is full of non-academic staff who may have career insights to share. A research background is often advantageous in research-related professional services roles – the Research Support Office and IAD are two areas which recruit into roles which would value a PhD and research experience.



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