Information : Post-Award
Code of practice:contract research staff
This Code of Practice constitutes the policy of Queen’s University Belfast and should be a model of good practice for research staff and for staff holding grants that involve the supervision of research staff.
- Line Management Responsibility
Research staff members are responsible, in general terms, to their Head of School for the performance of their duties. However, it should be clearly established at the commencement of the project the name of the person who is their immediate supervisor is and the nature of that supervision.
Supervisors should keep researchers regularly informed about their performance in carrying out specified duties and in meeting the designated objectives of the research project. Supervisors should establish these objectives and the procedure for monitoring the progress of the researcher.
- Conditions of Employment
All research staff members are employed on the basis of formal written and agreed contracts of employment drawn up by the Personnel Department. Such contracts must always be issued at the time of employment. Where a contract is renewed, any changes in the original terms and conditions of employment must be notified in writing and subject to the agreement of the individual to whom the contract applies.
Contracts will be accompanied by the conditions of service applying to the employment of the individual. These will set out the obligations and entitlements of the employee (see below).
Any individual who is re-employed on a research contract or series of contracts will progress up the appropriate scale, provided adequate funds have been secured for the purpose.
Contract research staff may be eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Employer’s contributions to USS should be routinely provided for in grant applications.
The national agreement covering the employment of research staff stipulates that anyone with a PhD qualification or equivalent research experience must be appointed on the 1A scale as a minimum. To ensure this is possible all grant applications must include costs at the appropriate salary level.
No individual will remain on Grade 1B (recognised training grade) for a time in excess of 3 years, except in exceptional circumstances. Anyone aged 27 or over on Grade 1A must be appointed to a salary at or above the “age point”. Appointment at higher grades of Research and Analogous Grades will reflect appropriate qualifications, experience and responsibility.
Contracts will offer as much security of employment as appropriate. If funds for a contract are extended and there is little or no variation in the nature of the work, the contract with the post holder should be renewed save in exceptional circumstances.
The same rights will apply for research staff for time off for union duties as those for academic and related staff.
Salary increases awarded as part of national salary negotiations will be paid simultaneously with other staff covered by the national agreements.
Individuals employed as research staff are entitled to the same conditions of service as those of
academic and related staff in respect of:
On initial appointment to the University contract research staff will be subject to a probationary period. An appointment of three years or more will serve a probationary period of one year and appointments of less than three years and more than six months will serve a six-month probation period.
It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to make proper provision for the training, supervision and assessment of the work of the probationer and to draw to the notice of the probationer any aspect of work which is considered to be unsatisfactory. The Probationary Report Form and Guidance Notes on probation are available from the Personnel Department.
Two meetings should be held with the probationer during the probationary period to discuss progress and to provide advice and guidance as required and for the completion of the form at the end of the probationary period. The first meeting will be with the Project Supervisor and the second meeting with an ad hoc committee consisting of three persons - normally the Head of School (or designated nominee), the Principal Investigator and one other member from the Department. Minutes of these will be required along with the completed form. Staff whose appointment is not confirmed following probation shall have the right of appeal to the Dean.
- Non-Research Duties - Teaching
Where agreement with the funding body permits a researcher to engage in teaching duties, these duties must be subject to full consultation between those responsible for teaching in the School, grant holder(s) and the individual concerned as to the nature and extent of duties. Opportunities for teaching and related work, which assist the personal development of the researcher, shall be encouraged where appropriate. Research staff will have access to appropriate facilities to meet their development needs associated with teaching.
- Job Titles
Members of staff, employed to give research assistance, that do not hold a doctorate or equivalent qualification will be entitled, after one year’s research experience, to use the title of Research Associate.
Members of research staff who hold a doctorate or equivalent qualification or have five years’ research of other relevant experience may use the title Research Fellow.
- The Research Environment
(a) Preparation of funding applications and holding of grants
The University should actively encourage the involvement of research staff in the preparation of research proposals and they may act as grant holders. Research staff should also be encouraged to suggest new funding or research possibilities. See Opportunity and Application sections.
Where individual members of research staff are designated as grant holders (Principal Investigators), they will be accountable to their Head of School in the same way as academic staff nominated as grant holders. Such accountability includes abiding by any University procedures and guidelines concerning the management of grants and employment of contract staff as would apply to any other grant holder.
All research staff will be kept fully up-to-date as far as possible on the state of their existing funding and the likelihood of any extension by the Principal Investigator and/or the Head of School. The Principal Investigator should, where possible, plan and apply for funds to allow for the extension of contracts for continuous service purposes. Information on the end of the contract should be given by the grant holder as far in advance as possible to allow individual research staff members the opportunity to seek alternative employment.
Bridging funds may be of value in providing for the retention of research staff between contracts.
(b) Publication and Intellectual Property Rights
Individual research staff must be accorded the status appropriate to their contribution to any published work arising from any project. This includes proper recognition for joint authorship in accordance with accepted academic practice governing contributions to specific pieces of work. Staff should check their contracts with the sponsor as there may be restrictions on publications and acknowledgement of sponsor’s support could be a requirement. Papers should not be submitted for publication before protection has been considered. Queries regarding publication or intellectual property should be made to the Research Support Office.
Agreements concerning obligations and entitlements applying to intellectual property rights for research staff are specified in Conditions of Service (Staff Handbook) and are equivalent to those of academic and related staff.
- University Government
The University recognises that research staff should have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes of the University, where appropriate, and subject to the provisions of the Statutes. In particular, research staff will be eligible for membership of their School Board and will be eligible for election to School and departmental committees. Subject to the necessary provision being included in the Statutes, research staff will be eligible for election to the Academic Council and to the Senate
- Access to Facilities
Research staff should have access to the necessary facilities for the performance of their duties. Research staff will have equal access to all non-academic facilities such as sport and leisure facilities offered by the University.
- Career Development
University policy is to encourage the renewal and extension of contracts where possible.
Research staff shall have access to relevant career development facilities. A systematic training programme is seen as part of career development and involves the individual researcher, supervisor/Principal Investigator and the University in identifying appropriate training opportunities. Research staff will have the facility to register for higher degrees in the University. New research staff will be expected to attend the induction course appropriate to them, details of which are available from the Staff Training and Development Unit.
Research staff will be appraised in accordance with the procedures set out in the document ‘Staff Appraisal Scheme’, a copy of which will be provided to relevant staff. The appraiser should, where possible, be a researcher or a member of staff with substantial experience of contract research work.
The University will provide advice and support to research staff whose contracts are ending including notification of vacancies of research posts at Queen’s University Belfast and access to information held by the Careers Advisory Service. Careers advice may be available on a limited basis.
- Recruitment and Equal Opportunities
The University’s procedures on Recruitment and Selection must be strictly adhered to. University appointment procedures must ensure that researchers are appointed to the grade appropriate to the duties of the post and, subject to the nature of those duties, to the experience of the person appointed. Recruitment and Selection must be carried out in accordance with the University’s Procedures on Recruitment and Selection.
- Health and Safety in Research
The University has a duty of care as employer for the personal health and safety of research staff. The University will ensure that health and safety procedures for research staff working on-site and off-site are practised and the necessary support, training and insurance cover are provided.
Research staff members have a duty of care as employees for their own health and safety and for that of others and to co-operate with the University to enable it to carry out its responsibilities.