Long and short of job contracts

January 22, 1999

It is unfair that researchers should lurch from contract to contract while teachers and administrators assume continuity of funding and employment. Without research all else becomes stale, withers and dies.

There is room for the "career" researcher and the undoubted and necessary flexibility offered by short-term contracts. Most universities know with some certainty that research funding will be received in perpetuity, what is uncertain is the specific projects for which it will be received. It would thus seem reasonable to engage, on full-time terms, good researchers who will move between projects without breaking their employment. There may be gaps between projects but surely most medium-sized universities are able to deploy research skills in a variety of ways?

People work better when they feel secure. When I was on three-year contracts my eyes were never far from the situations vacant column.

Tom McAra, Purchasing manager,University of Glasgow.

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