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Why use Prosper within your institution?

  • Prosper is free  
  • Prosper is flexible 
  • Prosper is inclusive 
  • Prosper is relevant 
  • Prosper is tried and tested 
  • Prosper helps you meet Concordat obligations 
  • Prosper drives beneficial best practice research culture 

Prosper is free to use

Prosper’s model, and all the materials and content on this Portal, are free to access and use. 

No login-in is required to access and use any of our resources. Prosper is committed to keeping its approach open and public, and minimising barriers to improving postdoc career development across the UK, to the benefit of postdocs, Managers of Researchers, Institutions, and society more generally. 

By signing up and logging in, there are enhanced features that can be accessed. Postdocs who do so are able to develop and track personalised career action plans, and more. For those representing institutions (whether Research Staff and Operational Developers or otherwise), signing up will grant access to a thriving nationwide community of other institutional representatives – allowing for discussion and sharing of best practice, additional materials and more. 

Prosper is flexible

We know that different research institutions have their own range of pre-existing and current postdoc career development resources. And we know that different institutions have different needs and budgets available. 

Prosper is designed to cater to the varying needs of all UK research and higher education institutions. Our resources, and all the content on the portal, can be used flexibly, and in a modular fashion – whether you are looking simply to run a single session in a particular area, or want to run a full-blown Prosper cohort, or anything in between.

During the initial development and trialling of Prosper, we worked with other institutions across the UK to seek their input, and ensure that Prosper is fit for a range of purposes. Different institutions have different structures and teams’ responsible for postdoc career development. On this portal, we use the title ‘Research Staff and Operational Developer’ (RSOD) as a convenient byword for the people responsible for this area – but in reality the titles and names vary a lot across organisations. 

Whatever your title, if you represent an institution and are responsible for people development at the postdoc level, Prosper is expressly designed to make this part of your job easier. And we are confident that, whatever your needs, you’ll find something here of use to your organisation. As well as the resources for postdocs and Managers of Researchers, the resources here in the Institutional section include a wealth of guidance to help you implement Prosper resources locally within your own institution, including a host of ready-made materials.

Prosper is relevant

Prosper draws heavily on key insight from a wide range of stakeholders parties both within and beyond academia. 

Resources in our career cluster section and beyond were co-created with over 100 employer partners, representing the key areas of opportunity within the UK economy where highly skilled recruits such as postdocs stand to thrive and add value. The portal is a gateway to first-hand knowledge from senior representatives at all sorts of organisations, from large multinationals to small business, across a range of sectors. 

All of this ensures Prosper’s resources are as relevant as possible to the opportunities and challenges facing postdocs today. What’s more, Prosper is actively updated and curated by a dedicated team, with guaranteed support and funding for the next decade. 

The resources in our ‘Managers of Resources’ section were co-created with Principal Investigators and other Managers of Researchers from institutions across the UK, via Prosper’s PI Network. And many of our resources across the portal were co-created with third-party subject matter experts across a range of topics. 

Piloted across the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Lancaster University

Developed in collaboration with 20 UK institutions

Resources co-created with over 100 employer partners

Prosper is tried and tested

Between 2021-2023, Prosper was trialled across two year-long pilot cohorts, the first involving 53 postdocs across the University of Liverpool, the second involving 75 postdocs across the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester, and Lancaster University. Cohort members had access to much of the resources that exist here on the portal today. Along the way, Prosper conducted a rigorous evaluation in order to test the effectiveness of the various interventions contained within our approach. 

Our findings demonstrated a hugely positive impact on postdocs’ confidence levels, career attitudes, behaviours relating to career development, and in terms of career outcomes. You can learn more here, but to summarise the findings from our first cohort: 

  • Major improvements in confidence levels across 16 variables relating to personal career development.  
  • Greater open-mindedness towards non-academic career pathways, and better awareness of career options beyond academia.  
  • A tangible increase in behaviours relating to professional networking, reaching out to employers, and job applications.  
  • Almost half the participants used what they learned to secure new positions, with 16 (over 30%) making the leap beyond academia to a variety of organisations, including the Met Office, the European Commission, the Civil Service, software companies, pharmaceutical companies, and a handful of promising start-ups. 

I felt very supported by Prosper – it was like I was building myself up again from scratch.

“Across almost every area of professional development, Prosper was transformative for me.” 

Prosper helped me get out of my comfort zone and make a clear decision about my next career move.

“Prosper was a major factor in my career transition beyond academia”

Prosper helps you meet Concordat obligations

Over 100 universities in the UK have signed up to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, the principles of which urge managers of researchers to support their researchers to prepare for a diversity of careers and provide their researchers with a minimum of 10 days per year to engage with career development.

Similarly, funders are increasingly looking to embed incentives for staff development into grant assessments and encourage managers to see the development of their research staff as an important outcome of their project. 

Prosper’s approach specifically addresses the requirements of postdoctoral researchers and their career development needs, whilst also helping managers of researchers to better support their postdocs. Prosper is an ideal ‘jumping off point’ for helping Managers of Researchers to fill the 10 minimum days, and a convenient, effective way to enhance your institutions’ existing programmes to this effect.

The minimum number of days per year for postdoc career development mandated by the Concordat

UK Universities that have signed up to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

How does best practice postdoc career development benefit an institution?

Career development doesn’t detract from research.

Researchers participating in career development show no decrease in time to completing their PhD degrees or in levels or quality of research output. 

Prosper’s own work running pilot postdoc career development cohorts also supports this, with managers of researchers reporting no decrease in postdoc research capabilities as a result of engaging with Prosper’s career development resources 

Supported staff are more productive. 

Structured and supportive career development can lead to increased numbers of research papers and grant applications, better relations between postdoc and managers, and greater levels of overall productivity and success. 

Researchers receiving career development support are happier, have a positive impact within their research groups and have more direction in their own career development. 

“When I left for IBM the funder of my Institute, the BBSRC, saw it really positively because now the Institute had an industrial collaborator”

Dr Laura-Jayne Gardiner, Research Staff Member, IBM and former postdoc.

It builds future research opportunities.

Far from being seen as an unsuccessful reflection on their manager, postdocs that move beyond academia can become sources of research funding, increase impact through research collaboration and improve academic performance. 

Improves your chances of getting research funding

UKRI (2023) are placing an increased emphasis on people leadership and management skills in their funding calls. Development of research staff is being seen as an integral outcome of funded projects and UKRI will be assessing grant applicants on how they will “support the career and professional development of their team members for a broader range of roles across the research and innovation system.” 

“It’s important to recognise that a person that is happy and feels engaged with their position will deliver a better job, so I do think that experiments are probably going to run better if they feel motivated and they feel they are developing”

Dr Elizabete Carmo-Silva, Senior Lecturer and Group Leader, Lancaster University. 

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