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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 provides for three defined levels within the research career path with continuous professional development at each level.  The intended outcome of this development is to support the Principal Investigators (PI’s) in delivering excellence in research at DCU.  In addition, participating researchers are facilitated in developing a set of valuable and transferable skills that shall enhance their own career opportunities.
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 Research Career 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 a longer term position outside of the Framework as a senior researcher or an academic in DCU or alternatively, other positions in industry or the wider public service.

The Researcher Career Framework operates underthe following guiding principles:

  • Entry to the Framework and progression to higher levels is by way of open competition.
  • A researcher may apply for posts (when advertised) at the appropriate level commensurate with their qualifications and experience. 
  • Recruitment and selection to all the appropriate levels shall be completed in line with University policy. The process shall be open, competitive, transparent and in line with best practice.
  • Vacancies at the three levels shall require external funding to be in place prior to advertising. The Principal Investigator (PI) shall 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 shall normally require their participation in the Framework.  Contracts shall not be renewed beyond one year if a researcher is not participating on the Framework.
  • All researchers shall complete a probationary process in their first year of employment with the University to ascertain their suitability for continued employment.     
  • All researchers shall complete an annual performance review through PMDS...
  • Professional development programmes shall be 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 shall be expected to undertake teaching activities that shall not normally be 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, shall 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 shall not undertake the same level of responsibility as a fulltime academic staff member and shall 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 shall 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 will apply.
  • Teaching activities will be allocated by the relevant Head of School  

Associated Processes with the Framework shall include the following:

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