Research and knowledge exchange

Principal Investigators: Supporting your Research Staff

It is important that research staff at the University feel supported by their manager. This page aims to provide information for research staff managers and PIs to enable them to support their staff effectively.


Cover page of pamphlet for PIs welcoming new researchers  

Managing Research Staff


The welcoming and managing researchers leaflet details the essential information you will require when welcoming and supporting your

This basic content, together with additional information and links for the effective management of research staff, are also presented in easy access accordians below..  research staff.




Supporting Research Staff new to Sussex

Researcher Induction

PIs play a key role in the induction process which helps new research staff to establish themselves quickly in their new role and to identify any training/development requirements to support them in their current role and future career aspirations. 

Before your meeting with the new member of research faculty ensure that you are familiar with the University’s policies, support and resources for research staff which are available via links lower down on this page.

Checklist for PIs when appointing new research staff:

Before new member of staff arrives
  • University of Sussex Research Staff Welcome GuideOnce appointment has been agreed ensure the School Admin Office are aware of the new starter and start date.
  • Arrange space and appropriate resources/infrastructure for the new staff member.
  • Refer the new member of staff to the Welcome Guide and New Research Staff web page.
  • If coming from overseas, refer staff to the International Research Staff web page.

Upon arrival/first day

  • Be there to meet your new member of staff on their first day.
  • Ensure the new member of staff visits HR with all relevant documents.
  • Introduce them to group members and other key members of the department.
  • Arrange a health and safety and IT induction.

Within first month of appointment

  • It is a University expectation that new members of research faculty should meet with their principal investigator/supervisor within the first month of the research contract as part of their induction process to discuss and agree some initial research and career development objectives
  • You should refer to the Guidance and templates to support your start of contract objective setting and career development discussion document. 
  • To support discussions relating to professional development activity, please refer to the Research Staff Professional Development Guidance [PDF 1.65MB]

    Other things to include in discussions:

    • Provide an indication of your expectations of them e.g. research outputs, performance, progress reporting, progression etc.
    • Inform them of the time you will be able to give to them/their project and the nature and extent of the supervision you will provide.
    • Explain their entitlement to appraisal, training and development, regular career development discussions etc. Include information about the promotion process.
    • Provide information about any entitlement to funds to attend conferences/travel to meetings/undertake training etc.
    • Encourage them to attend the "Researcher Induction and Welcome Lunch" hosted by the Research Staff Office.


Key resources for new research staff

You may wish to familiarise yourself and direct new staff members to the pages below.     

Supporting International Researchers

New research staff coming to Sussex from overseas need support before they arrive. Please see our International Researchers page for practical information.  Researchers may wish to contact the school's HR advisor for assistance regarding visas.



Euraxess logoThe Research Staff Office manages the University’s partnership with the European Commission’s EURAXESS initiative, which provides support and assistance to researchers living and working in the EU.  

EURAXESS have produced a comprehensive guide for international researchers moving to the UK that contains all of the general information you need to know about living and working in the UK.

You can send any queries for EURAXESS via the local contact address


Supporting Researcher Career Development

It is current University guidance that Research Staff have a minimum of 5 working dats (pro rata) for professional development activities per annum. (this is likely to rise to 10 days when the University signs up to the new Researcher Development Concordat). 

Whilst the Research Staff Office provide training and development workshops as well as 1:1 coaching specifically for research staff, and Organisational Development have a suite of development activities and resources available for all members of staff, it should be noted that not all development activities necesssitate attending courses. Examples of professional development activites can be found in Part 2 of the Research Staff Professional Development Guidance [PDF 1.65MB] 

Supporting Researcher Appraisals and Progression

The University runs an annual appraisal process for Sussex research staff.  Appraisers should meet with research staff appraisees to discuss progress against their research objectives as well as their career development aspirations and goals.

Appraisal meetings provide an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and identify areas where your staff hope to develop new skills or take on new opportunities and responsibilities.

Quick Links: Essential Resources, Policies and Processes

It is important for PIs to be aware of University policies and the legislation in regards to staff employed by the University.

Please find links below to important policies, guidance and support relating to your researchers...


...induction and development...

 ...and the wider context of the University:


Developing Yourself as a PI

Please find links below to key policies and guidance that help enable PIs to both manage research staff and develop themselves whilst leading a research project.

We recommend all PIs that manage research staff should attend the Organisational Development course 'Fixed Term Contracts' and explore the other courses available. You may also wish to take a look at this external guidance from Vitae on supervising and managing researchers.



Vitae is an international programme led by the UK charity, Careers Research and Advisory Centre, working to enhance the potential of researchers.

Vitae's website has many useful resources aimed at developing PIs and helping them to support their research staff effectively.  Many of the most popular resources for PI are linked to in the above sections.

All our staff and students get full access to the Vitae website and resources if you register with your Sussex email address.


Vitae logoConcordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers Logo                    HR Badge of Excellence Logo



Cross-Institutional Practice Sharing Event for
Principal Investigators and Research Staff Managers

Please find below presentations from the practice sharing event that took place on Wednesday 13th April 2016.

University of Sussex provision and practice for research staff development 
Dr Lucy Robinson, Senior Lecturer in History and University Director of Research Staff Development

UK, European and International policy and perspectives on research staff management  
Dr Katie Wheat, Vitae

PI Perspectives – Experiences, challenges and approaches to research staff management  
Professor Antonella De Santo, Head of Sussex Experimental Particle Physics 


Contact Us

For more information and guidance on how to support your research staff please contact the Research Staff Office.


T: 01273 877979

Research Staff Office, Research and Enterprise Services, Level 1, Falmer House, University of Sussex, BN1 9QF

   Twitter @SussexResearchr