Guidance Notes for Principal Investigators


Recruiting Contract Research Staff

Guidance Notes for Principal


1. Background.

This document is intended to provide guidance for Principal Investigators when recruiting contract research staff. The principles in regard to the recruitment of staff generally are set out in the University’s Recruitment and Selection Policy and the related procedural guidance document. This document is intended to supplement the Recruitment and Selection Policy.

All Principal Investigators must ha ve attended the University’s recruitment and selection training course and where appropriate attend refresher training at least once every five years.

This guidance document deals specifically with the following issues.

Contract research grades.

Named Investigators on grant proposals.

Working with HR to initiate the recruitment exercise.

Advertising Guidelines.

Vacancies of 3 months or less.

Two stage recruitment.

Salary scales and starting salaries.

2. Contract Research Grades.

When making a grant proposal it is important that you establish if you actually require additional staff to deliver the project outcomes. You should remain open to the possibility that the project outcomes can be delivered without additional staffing resources or the possibility that funding obtained could be used to fund existing staff rather than recruiting new staff (if the funding body regulation permit).

Where you have established that you do require additional staff resources you must determine the volume of work required (i.e. full-time or part-time) and the level of the work

(i.e. Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Fellow or Senior Research Fellow).

The grading of the post is determined solely by the level of the responsibilities which the post-holder will be required to undertake. If for example you have the budget available to support a Research Fellow but the duties required are at the level of Research Associate then the post should be filled at the Associate level. Similarly if you require duties at the

Research Assistant level but the appointee previously worked as a Research Fellow the post must be filled at the Assistant level i.e. the grade is determined by the nature of the duties rather than the career history of the appointee. Detailed guidance on the levels of responsibility for the various grades is available on the Human Resources section of the

University’s website.

The salary scales for each of the research grades are available on the University website. It is recommended that you aim to secure funding to allow for appointment at any point in the relevant scale for the grade in question however, it is recognised that some research funders impose a maximum salary which is lower than the University’s maximum for the given grade.


Your grant proposal should include the full economic cost of the salary i.e. gross salary plus employer National Insurance contribution plus employer’s pension contribution. Please liaise with your Research Office advisor for details on full economic costing of a grant proposal.

3. Named Investigators.

Current employees can be included on a grant proposal as a named researcher in the following circumstances.

The researcher must only be included on the grant application at their current grade i.e. it is not appropriate for a researcher to gain promotion just because they have been named on a grant (in the University promotions can only be obtained via the annual promotion process or a competitive recruitment exercise).

The researcher must have a contract of employment with the University which has an end date either on or after the new grant is due to start.

The external funders allow the researcher to be named.

If these conditions are met and the grant application is successful the post can be offered to the named researcher without a further competitive interview.

4. Working with HR to initiate the recruitment exercise.

When the PI receives confirmation that the grant proposal has been successful and the

Research Office confirm that the funding has been received the recruitment process can be initiated. The PI should forward the following to the Human Resources Department.

A completed and appropriately authorised Recruitment Requisition (available from the HR section of the University’s website).

Confirmation from the Research Office that the funding has been received.

A Job Description and Personnel Specification.

If a PI intends to make a grant application with a view to extending an existing project and/or extending the employment of existing contract research staff it is important that such applications are made as early as possible so that there is no gap between the original funding ending and the new funding starting.

5. Advertising Guidelines.

The University’s job advertising guidelines are attached as appendix one. The guidelines are designed to help ensure a degree of consistency so that job seekers know where to look if they are interested in working at Ulster. The choice of advertising media will depend on the following

The grade of the post.

The duration of the contract.

UK Borders Agency regulations (these only apply if the PI wishes to retain the possibility of appointing an Non-EU national)

When making the grant application the PI should ensure that the budget includes the cost of advertising the vacancy. The cost will vary depending on which publication is used, how


many advertisements the University is placing in that publication that week and the number of words used in the advertisement (as a rough approximation a small advertisement in the

Belfast Telegraph will cost £500 to £800 plus VAT depending on how many other advertisement are appearing that week – based on October 2010 charge rate ).

If the funders do not make provision for funding the job advertisements the PI should seek alternative sources of funding before make the grant application (e.g. the Research Institute or the School).

6. Vacancies of less than three months duration.

Where funding is available for a very short term appointment (i.e. up to 3 months with a maximum extens ion of a further 3 months) the vacancy can be advertised on the University’s website only (restricted to current employees ) or the University’s website plus the jobmarket

(if the vacancy is to be open to external applicants). To initiate this process the PI should forward a recruitment requisition to HR who will arrange for the post to be advertised.

7. Two Stage recruitment.

In order to avoid possible redundancies all vacancies (other than very short term vacancies) are in the first instance restricted to emp loyees on the University’s Redeployment Register.

If no appointment is made via the Redeployment Register trawl the vacancy can be advertised externally.

8. Salary Scales and Starting Salaries.

The University has determined salary scales for each of the research grades which include a minimum and maximum rate of pay for the grade. The University is also aware that some research funders will stipulate a maximum starting salary which is lower than the maximum set by the University.

When advertising a research vacancy the advertisement will stipulate the salary range available. This will be either the full range appropriate to the grade (i.e. the range determined by the University) or a range between the minimum stipulated by the University for that grade and the maximum as stipulated by the funders. The preference is to use the full

University scale for that grade however, it is recognised that this is not always possible.

Incremental credit can be given based on years of comparable work up to the maximum salary advertised e.g. if a Research Associate has three years working experience as a

Research Associate in another University three years incremental credit can be awarded. To ensure consistency across the University ‘years of comparable service’ is the only factor considered in determining the level of incremental credit.

(Document developed February 2011)



Posts at Grades 6 or above

Posts at Grades 6 and above will be advertised as follows.

EURES (for at least 28 days) plus plus

One publication from the following list

 The Belfast Telegraph

 Times Higher Education (only available for posts at

Lecturer or Research Fellow or above)

 The Guardian

 The New Scientist

 Another National Newspaper (as defined by UKBA)

This complies with the UK Borders Agency’s Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) requirement and therefore the University can appoint non-EEA nationals to such positions.

(Note: By exception, for individual recruitment exercises at Grade 6 and above a decision can be made to opt out of the RLMT but only on the understanding that the vacancy will only be open to applicants who do not require a

Work Permit or Certificate of Sponsorship to work in the UK)

Posts at Grades 1 to 5

The University believes that it can meet its staffing requirements for these grades from within the EEA. The RLMT will not be applied to posts at these grades.

Posts at Grades 1-5 will be advertised as follows.

 The University’s Website

A widely used external website

One publication from the following list

 The Belfast Telegraph

 The Derry Journal plus The Londonderry Sentinel

 The Coleraine Chronicle

Fixed term posts of less than 51 weeks duration (all grades)

The RLMT will not be applied to these posts. These posts will be advertised in the following way.

Job centres online

Email Alerts from E-recruitment system

(Note: the 51 week duration is a strict cut off point and no extensions to such contracts will be allowed)

If a Faculty or Department wish to supplement the advertising media outlined above they must identify specific funds to do so. All advertising costs for externally funded posts must be met by the external funds.

These guidelines do not alter the University’s position on 2 stage recruitment and only become relevant after the redeployment requirements have been exhausted.