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Human Resources

HR Excellence in Research

DCU Research Career Framework

An Overview of the DCU Research Career Framework

Guiding Principles:

The Research Career Framework is structured into three defined levels within the research career path with continuous professional development at each level. Participating researchers are facilitated in developing a set of valuable and transferable skills that will enhance their career opportunities. The framework supports Principal Investigators (PIs) in delivering excellence in research at DCU. 
The Research Career Framework consists of three levels:

  • 1st Level – Post Doctoral Researcher - up to a maximum of 4 years in duration
  • 2nd Level – Research Fellow - up to a maximum of 4 years in duration
  • 3rd Level – Senior Research Fellow - up to a maximum of 4 years in duration

Overall, a researcher can have up to a maximum of 8 years in total on the Framework, but no more than 4 years at each of the three levels.  

Senior Research Fellows who successfully complete Level 3 will be strongly placed to secure longer-term positions as senior researchers or academics in DCU or, alternatively, positions in industry or the wider public service. 

The Researcher Career Framework operates under the following guiding principles:

  • Entry to the Framework and progression to higher levels is by way of open competition.
  • Researchers can apply for posts (when advertised) at the appropriate level commensurate with their qualifications and experience. 
  • Recruitment and selection to all the appropriate levels is completed in line with University policy. The process is open, competitive, transparent and in line with best practice.
  • Vacancies at the three levels require external funding to be in place prior to advertising. The Principal Investigator (PI) will ensure that the contract duration matches the funding available.  
  • Normally, researchers who have a contract of less than one year may not initially be part of the Framework. However, any subsequent renewal normally requires their participation in the Framework.  Contracts will not be renewed beyond one year if a researcher is not participating on the Framework.
  • All researchers will complete a probationary process in their first year of employment with DCU to ascertain their suitability for continued employment.
  • Professional development programmes are in place for each level of the Framework. 
  • Eligibility to apply for promotion to the next level requires that internal applicants have successfully completed their probationary period and/or a 12-month performance review thereafter.
  • At each level, the researcher is expected to undertake teaching activities that are not normally more than 50 hours per annum. The basis for this provision is that the researcher benefit from professional development opportunities within mainstream academia. The activity, allocated by a Head of School, will be under the supervision of a fulltime academic member of that School. 

Teaching activities are defined as follows:

  • Teaching includes, tutoring, informal mentoring, lab supervision, supervision of students on projects and the updating and design of course notes and materials etc
  • The researcher will not undertake the same level of responsibility as a fulltime academic staff member and will not be responsible for a full programme and/ or module. 
  • In the event that a researcher is allocated lecturing, tutoring or lab supervision duties, hours spent on pre and post teaching activities count towards the 50 hours ceiling.
  • The activity can be undertaken at any time of the year (i.e. outside of term), for example, tutorials for repeat examinations in the summer etc.
  • Teaching activities are considered to be part of the role of the Researcher and no additional remuneration applies.
  • Teaching activities will be allocated by the relevant Head of School. 

The following processes are associated with the Framework:

  • All new entrants are required to complete a probationary process. Outside of the normal probationary process, an annual performance evaluation is conducted through the PMDS process.
  • General terms and conditions of employment under which researchers are employed will consistent within each level of the Framework irrespective of the funding source.