Permanent payoff 1

March 23, 2007

Employment of researchers on open contracts is good news for universities, not just the researchers ("Research joy over rise in job security", March 9).

At Birmingham University's School of Education, it was decided in 2003 that the level of research income warranted the transfer of 12 researchers from fixed-term to permanent contracts.

The move has resulted in enormous payoff. We can make strong, targeted proposals to funders with a team of experienced researchers closely attuned to the research strengths of the school.

It also helps build research capacity: we now have a stable, committed community of dedicated researchers who support each other and whose skills and growth can be fostered. The growing strength of the group's members means that they write their own research proposals, produce publications, supervise doctoral students and contribute to teaching about their research.

We might add that it is an irony that the highly active researchers in this group are by default excluded from entry as "research-active staff" in the research assessment exercise unless we can make an acceptable case for their "independence" to the Higher Education Council for England.

Alison Bullock, Ian Grosvenor, Sarah Parsons and Gary Thomas
Birmingham University

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