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Human Resources


This document provides detailed guidance to researchers and their supervisors on HR processes supporting the Employment and Career Management Scheme (ECMS) launched in April 2011, including induction, probation and appraisal (known as career management review). The adoption and launch of the ECMS represents a major indicator of Concordat implementation in Cambridge. Researchers and supervisors/PIs are advised to read the ECMS carefully since it sets the context within which probation and appraisal takes place; researchers should use the career management tool and supervisors/PIs should read the guidance for PIs/Supervisors included within the Scheme. They should also refer to institutional documentation which may have been developed using the ECMS as a framework, contacting the relevant institutional administrator for details.

The aim of this guidance, in line with the ECMS, is to facilitate the career management process whereby researchers, with the support of their supervisors, identify their career aspirations early on in their employment with the University, analyse their skills requirements and development needs, then take forward an action plan to meet them. This guidance therefore sets out in detail the probationary procedure for research staff and arrangements for career management review within the general framework for appraisal in the University, including subsequent reviews of work performance, personal development needs and career aims. These details may be adapted by institutions, in consultation with the relevant HR Business Manager/HR Adviser, to meet local requirements. Such changes will be documented.

Career Management Review : Guidance for Research staff

Career Management Review is the Staff Review and Development (SRD) (Appraisal) Scheme for research staff.

At the start of employment the Head of Institution or her/his nominee/representative will identify the immediate supervisor for a member of research staff; this will normally be the Principal Investigator.

The PI /supervisor will also usually be the reviewer for the Career Management Process.

Career Management Process

The aims of the Career Management Process are to::

  • Confirm the suitability for employment of new members of staff.
  • Assist the development of staff in their work and career and promote their full potential through systematic self-appraisal and positive review.
  • Improve communication in institutions so as to provide a reference between University and institution objectives and individual career plans.
  • Identify the potential for longer-term or permanent employment.

Induction & Probation

Supervisors/PIs are responsible for ensuring the proper induction of new members of staff. In addition to explaining the full responsibilities of the job, including the standards expected, institutional practices, reporting requirements of the sponsor and other such management issues, induction should include introduction to work colleagues, familiarisation with the institution's facilities, amenities, policies and procedures and safety and security practices.

Throughout the probationary period, research objectives and work performance should be regularly discussed. Following successful completion of the probationary period, an initial Career Management Review meeting should be scheduled.

  • Identify the potential for longer-term or permanent employment.

Career Management Review

This follows confirmation of appointment and should take place at least every two years thereafter.

Career management review is the name given to the appraisal scheme for research staff and falls within the general framework for appraisal in the University. The career management review is not intended to replace regular meetings to discuss work and career progress but to supplement and summarise them.


If requested, an alternative reviewer to the supervisor/PI may be nominated by the Head of Institution or her/his nominee/representative.

With the agreement of your Principal Investigator, an additional reviewer may be present at career management review (appraisal) meetings where that additional person is knowledgeable about the area work.


The first career management review takes place after confirmation of appointment following probation, with subsequent reviews at least every two years thereafter.

At the appropriate time the Head of Institution, Reviewer and Reviewee will be notified that a career management review is due. This notification can be by email and will give details on how to access the appraisal form and guidance.

Stage 1 - Self-assessment by Reviewee: Self-assessment is in two parts. Firstly, a review of performance against the objectives agreed at the end of the probationary period or previous career management review, highlighting any development activity that has taken place. The second part is the proposal of objectives to be achieved in the next two years, highlighting any development needs and longer-term career objectives. This needs to be shared with the Reviewer in advance of Stage 2.

Stage 2 - Review meeting: Discussions take place at a review meeting between the Reviewee and their Reviewer. The basis of the meeting is to discuss the information provided by the Reviewee on their completed SRD form.

The meeting can be held at the place of work or away from the office/laboratory. However, it should be ensured that, wherever it takes place, it will be uninterrupted and that discussions can be kept confidential. It is sensible to allow at least an hour for a review meeting so that it does not feel hurried.

The meeting should be a constructive, two-way open discussion focused on the Reviewee’s professional and personal development. There should be no surprises at the meeting, from either party. For example, it is not the time for the Reviewee to raise a grievance or for the Reviewer to raise performance issues. These are best communicated at the time that concerns become apparent, via regular 1-2-1s throughout the year.

Stage 3  - Record: Following the review meeting the Reviewee should complete the appraisal form in liaison with the Reviewer. It should then be forwarded to the Head of Institution or her/his nominee/representative for comment on the conclusions recorded.  The Personal Development Plan (attached to the model appraisal form) should also be completed, setting out development activities to be completed during the forthcoming period of review between SRD discussions. Immediately after all parts of the SRD form are completed, copies will be returned to the Reviewee and Reviewer for reference.

You might also wish to review key research skills that you have developed and would be transferable in terms of your future career