Human Resources

Conditions of service

Research staff employment Code of Practice

This Code of Practice constitutes the policy and good practice guidelines of Loughborough University for research staffprincipal investigators and other staff involved in the management and supervision of research staff.

The Code is subject to monitoring and revision by Human Resources, and has been most recently updated in March 2021.

This latest revision of the Code has taken account of the provisions of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, an agreement between the funders and employers of researchers in the UK, full details are available here.

In summary, the Concordat consists of:

  • A set of key principles for the future support and management of research careers and, under each principle, an explanation of how it may best be embedded into institutional practice;
  • A clear statement of the signatories’ collective expectations for the support and management of researchers;
  • A section emphasising the responsibility of researchers to take control of their career and to further it through informed decisions.

The Concordat recognises that institutions have a responsibility to research staff because of their important contribution to research performance whilst often in a situation of insecurity or brief tenure which often results from research funding arrangements.

Since the launch of the Concordat, the University has been considering and undertaking implementation of the key principles, and any resulting changes to current practices regarding research staff in the University are communicated as appropriate. The University has published a Concordat Implementation Plan, and has been awarded the European Charter HR Excellence in Research badge for its commitment to good practice in the employment of researchers.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The University is committed to achieving an educational and working environment which provides equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sex, class, sexual orientation, age, disability or special need. All employees must undertake the mandatory training module “Respecting Diversity” and contravention of the University's equal opportunities policy will result in disciplinary action. All groups, including research staff, are encouraged to join the University’s Equality and Diversity Staff Groups and committees, and are covered by the University’s flexible working policy. Further information can be found on our Equality, diversity and inclusion pages.

The University is a member of the Athena SWAN Charter, working to ensure gender equality in all of its activities and encouraging representation, progression and success for all in higher education and research. It supports the Athena SWAN principles and encourages Schools to seek accreditation from Athena SWAN and other bodies that encourage equality and diversity.  The University is also a member of the Race Equality Charter, which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of all minority ethnic staff and students within higher education, and address issues of racism within higher education institutions (HEIs); the University will publish its Race Equity Strategy, a 10-year programme of change, during 2021.  Loughborough is a Stonewall Diversity Champion, officially recognised as an institution that aims to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for the LGBT+ community.

Recruitment and selection

University procedures are designed to ensure fairness and equity and to ensure that all staff are appointed to the grade appropriate to the duties of the post. It is also essential that those appointed meet the requirements of the post. This includes an initial evaluation of the post by Human Resources to confirm the grade, prior to recruitment.

Recruitment and selection should be carried out in accordance with the University’s Recruitment Guide.

All staff are eligible to apply for removal expenses and resettlement grant if they meet the eligibility criteria (please see the full details and conditions of this grant). 

Line management responsibility

Research staff are responsible to their Dean of School, Head of Department, or Head of Centre/Institute for the performance of their duties. However, it should be clearly established at the start of the project who is the immediate line manager, and the nature of that management.

The nature of the involvement of the grant-holder, if different, must also be clearly specified at the beginning of the project.

All staff are required to receive an appropriate induction at a University level, in addition to a local induction. Inductors can access an induction checklist on the People and Organisational Development website under New staff. All new research staff must attend the “Welcome to Loughborough” induction session and complete other mandatory training, such as Fire Safety Awareness and Information Security. Additionally, research staff are encouraged to join the “Introduction to Research at Loughborough” workshop, bookable through the My.HR booking system.

Line managers will establish at the outset the objectives of the research project and the procedure for monitoring the progress of the researcher.  This will normally be:

  • Informally on a regular basis
  • More formally through the University’s probation and annual Performance Development and Review (PDR) process. 

Line managers will keep researchers regularly informed about their performance in carrying out specified duties and in meeting the designated objectives. 

The line manager should make clear at the outset what is expected in terms of:

  • Ethical standards
  • Laboratory procedure (if applicable)
  • Working arrangements (hours of work etc)
  • Reasonable expectations of output
  • Authorship (see section 10).

Research staff should be encouraged and are expected to participate in professional and personal development activities, which may include attending conferences, participating in internal or external training workshops, visiting or hosting collaborators, coaching and mentoring.  Research staff should be given reasonable time within the research project to participate in professional development.

Deans of School, Heads of Department, or Heads of Centres/Institutes are ultimately responsible for career development issues such as probationary reviews, PDR, and training needs assessment, although day-to-day responsibility is normally delegated to the line manager.


The length of probation and the probation adviser will be set by the Chair of the Appointment panel; probation will be for a period of between one and twelve calendar months. In setting the period of probation, the Chair is required to take account of the relevant experience of the individual and the opportunity to demonstrate competence in the role.

Probation periods should only be extended where there are mitigating circumstances, such as serious illness, maternity leave, where external events have prevented important duties being covered, or where concerns with performance, or other factors, are identified and it is felt that these would improve with further time.

In circumstances where a probationer is not contracted to work for a full calendar year, the length of the probation period shall be expressed as working time rather than calendar months.

Full details of non-academic probation are available on the Human Resources website.

It is the responsibility of the Dean of School, Head of Department, Dean of School, or Head of Centre/Institute to make proper provision for the training, supervision and assessment of the probationer's work and to draw to the notice of the probationer any aspect of work which is considered to be unsatisfactory. The Dean of School, Head of Department, or Head of Centre/Institute will be requested to report to Human Resources on each probationer’s performance mid-way through the probationary period and again not less than one month before the completion of the period.

On the satisfactory completion of a probationary period the appointment will be confirmed in writing by Human Resources for the duration of its full term.

If it seems to a Dean of School, Head of Department, or Head of Centre/Institute that it may be desirable to terminate the appointment of a probationer or to recommend that an appointment is not confirmed at the end of a probationary period, or to extend the probationary period, the probationer will be informed in writing of the reasons by Human Resources.

Research staff whose appointments are not confirmed following the expiry of a probationary period have the same rights of appeal as any other member of staff.

Conditions of employment

All research staff are employed on the basis of formal written and agreed contracts of employment drawn up and issued by Human Resources. Such contracts must always be issued prior to 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.

Appropriate conditions of service will be issued with the offer of employment. These are important documents which set out the obligations and entitlements of the employee and should be read before employment commences and referred to as appropriate.

Any salary increases awarded as part of national salary negotiations will be paid simultaneously with other staff covered by any national agreements.

Research staff are encouraged to apply for other roles at the University as vacancies arise. All vacancies are advertised on the University website’s vacancies page.

All staff, including research staff are entitled to be considered for an award of an accelerated increment and/or for contribution pay under the University’s Reward Review Process, which takes place annually under normal circumstances.

Research staff are eligible to apply for conference and travel expenses from appropriate funds and should discuss suitable opportunities with their supervisor.

The same rights will apply for research staff for time off for union duties as those for academic and related staff.

Continuity of employment

Researchers are primarily chosen for their ability to advance research at the University. The University in turn is committed to providing a stable working environment, as far as possible, for them. University policy is therefore to encourage the renewal and extension of contracts where possible to retain staff. Due to the uncertain nature of external research funding, no guarantee can be given of continuing employment beyond the expiry date of any fixed term.

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 would normally be renewed save in exceptional circumstances which should be discussed well in advance of the expiry date with the relevant Human Resources representative.

Any individual who is re-employed on a research contract or series of contracts will progress automatically up the appropriate scale up to the contribution threshold on an annual basis, save in the most exceptional circumstances.

All research staff will be kept fully up-to-date as far as possible by the grant-holder and/or Dean of School, Head of Department, or Head of Centre/Institute on the state of their existing funding and the likelihood of any extension. The School, Department or Centre/Institute should where possible, and if appropriate, plan and apply for funds to allow for the extension of contracts for continuous service purposes. Information regarding the end of the contract will be given by the School, Department or Centre/Institute and confirmed by Human Resources as far in advance as possible to allow individual research staff members the opportunity to seek alternative employment. Research Staff coming to the end of a contract will be offered the opportunity to meet with a Human Resources representative to discuss opportunities including potential redeployment. More information on the University’s redeployment policy can be found on the Human Resources website, any queries regarding this policy can be discussed with your School’s HR business partner.

The University is committed to reducing the use of fixed term contracts, and makes use of open-ended contracts subject to fixed term funding for members of staff where this is appropriate. Members of staff who have been employed with the University in a series of continuous fixed term contracts for four years or more have the right to be considered for a transfer from a fixed term contract to a contract which states it is open-ended subject to fixed term funding.  A member of the People and Organisational Development team will report such instances to the Dean of School and discuss whether the individual could be transferred to an open-ended contract subject to fixed term funding, if appropriate.  There may be reasons why a move to an open-ended contract subject to fixed term funding is not appropriate, for example because the funding may be for a very short period of time and there was no likelihood that this would be extended.  However this justification will be communicated to the individual by HR.  Career guidance is available to all research staff, whether or not they intend to remain in research. See the final section “Career development” for further information about this.

The University consults with the Loughborough University and College Union (LUCU) on the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts in accordance with current statutory provisions.

Costing of research grant applications

Individuals employed as research staff are entitled to the same conditions of service as those of academic and related staff in respect of superannuation schemes. Employer's contributions to the appropriate superannuation scheme should be routinely provided for in grant applications.

Research jobs requiring previous research experience and/or a PhD qualification are likely to be evaluated as Research Grade 6 and would be entitled Research Associate.  Those requiring no previous experience or where independent working is not considered essential to the job may well be graded Research Grade 5 (Research Assistant). In a small number of cases a research job requiring extensive experience, project and people management responsibilities may be evaluated at Research Grade 7 (Senior Research Associate). Other titles which are more suited to a School’s or Department's discipline or mode of activity may also be considered, in discussion with Human Resources.

Advice regarding an appropriate grade at an early stage from Human Resources may assist in ensuring that grant applications are costed at the appropriate salary level.  

Principal Investigators are encouraged to include the time and funding for the development of researchers as integral to a grant. Some research councils, for example the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, now expect Investigators to participate in activities that seek to engage the public with their research. Funding for public engagement activities connected with a project may be included.

Specifically, the Research Councils will provide additional funding to cover the costs of making a substitute appointment to cover for the parental leave of a member of research staff funded by the Research Council or, alternatively, will extend the duration of the grant for a period equivalent to the parental leave taken if no substitute appointment was made. Similar provisions apply to long term sickness absence.

Preparation of funding applications and holding of grants

The University actively encourages the involvement of research staff in the preparation of research proposals and where possible and appropriate to act as grant holders, recognising that in the majority of cases research staff are not permitted to be Principal Investigators. Exceptions may include Research Fellowships and Travel Grants. Research staff should also be encouraged to suggest new funding or research possibilities.

Where individual members of research staff are designated as grant holders, they will be accountable to their Dean of School, Head of Department or Head of Centre/Institute in the same way as other nominated grant holders.  Such accountability includes abiding by any University procedures and guidelines concerning the management of grant monies and employment of contract staff as would apply to any other grant holder.

Some research councils, for example the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, permit current researchers who have contributed to a new proposal to be acknowledged as a Researcher Co-Investigator. Full details may be obtained from the Research and Enterprise Office or from the relevant research council website. 

Recognition, Publication and Intellectual Property Rights

The University is committed to maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in the conduct of its research as embodied in the Universities UK (UUK) Concordat to Support Research Integrity.  Everyone engaged in research at the University is responsible for observing the University's Code of Practice for Research and the principles outlined in the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) Code of Practice for Research (2009) throughout all aspects of their research from initial concept through to final dissemination of outcomes. Further information, including policies and procedures for Research Misconduct and Whistleblowing, can be found on the University’s Research Integrity website.

It is essential that individual researchers are accorded the status appropriate to their contribution to any published work arising from any project. This includes proper recognition for authorship in accordance with accepted academic practice governing contributions to specific pieces of work. Guidelines about authorship are often published by academic journals, and it is recommended that these are referred to prior to publication.

Agreements concerning obligations and entitlements applying to intellectual property rights for research staff are specified in the Conditions of Service and are equivalent to those of Research, Teaching and Enterprise staff. Types of IP include patents, copyright, design rights, performing rights and know-how. The copyright and/or database rights in all work produced by a member of staff in the course of their employment belong to the University but there are exceptions including such rights in research outputs. In the case of commercialisation of inventions, the University pays half of net resulting profits for distribution among inventors. 

University governance

The University recognises the right of research staff to participate in the governance of the University. This includes the right of research staff to stand for election to University and School/Departmental Committees. Research staff are eligible to vote as appropriate to their job family. All research staff are members of General Assembly and are eligible for election or co-option to Council. Research staff can attend and take full part in School/Department staff meetings and in School/Department decision-making processes.

Access to facilities

Research staff should have access to the necessary facilities for the performance of their duties, as decided by the line manager and the Dean of School, Head of Department or Head of Centre/Institute. Research staff will have equal access to all non-academic facilities such as sport and leisure facilities offered by the University.

Teaching opportunities

Line managers should explain to new research staff members that there may be opportunities to teach, either within their own School, or in a School where their subject expertise is taught. The University recognises that this is an important aspect of their personal and professional development.

Opportunities for research staff to engage in teaching must be overseen and approved by the Dean of their School. Line managers should brief new members of research staff on the conditions surrounding the uptake of teaching, including agreement with the funding body (if applicable), the pre-requisites, the amount of time the research staff member can/should devote to teaching, and the support available. 

Where there is no appropriate teaching opportunity available in the School within which the research staff member is based, following consultation with the researcher the Dean of the School should approach their equivalent in another School where an appropriate teaching opportunity may exist. Such cross-School teaching should be undertaken in the spirit of professional development for the researcher and in fulfilment of the University’s Strategy.

To be allowed to undertake teaching, the research staff member should receive training commensurate with the nature of the teaching commitment and their own experience. As a minimum, they would be expected to have received training through the Essential Teaching Skills Course provided for research staff and students by the Centre for Academic Practice and Doctoral College, or through an equivalent course (equivalence to be decided at the discretion of the Centre for Academic Practice). This should be followed by a teaching observation within the School, once the individual has begun teaching. For staff with significant teaching experience (for example more than one year in a role such as a teaching fellowship or a lectureship in HE), or professional recognition (such as some level of Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy) then only a teaching observation is required. Deans of School or Heads of Department must be satisfied that their standards of teaching are acceptable.

Research staff who teach will also be given the opportunity and encouraged to work towards Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, where this is appropriate to their teaching activities. 

Career development

Research staff have access to appropriate career development facilities. A systematic training programme is seen as part of career development and involves the individual researcher, Principal/Co- Investigator/supervisor and the University in identifying appropriate training opportunities. Careers advice and information is available via the University’s Careers Network and the Research Staff and Student Development Adviser may also be able to provide some guidance. Research staff have the facility to register for higher degrees in the University. Many research funders, including the EPSRC, require that grant holders ensure that research staff develop research, vocational and entrepreneurial skills that are matched to the demands of their future career paths.

The University will provide advice and support to research staff whose contracts are ending, including notification of vacancies of research posts at Loughborough University in the “Current Vacancies” section of the People and Organisational Development home page. This information is regularly updated. 

Researchers can also join the Loughborough University Research Staff Association (LURSA), which provides a community and mutual support for researchers including opportunities for personal and career development.

There is also support on a national level through the UK Research Staff Association and Vitae, the national researcher development organisation, is an additional source of information and support for researchers at all levels and for employers and supervisors of researchers. It is the UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes. See the Vitae website for further details.

Updated: March 2021