A network by ECRs, for ECRs

More than just a Network, a thriving research community

Starting in Autumn 2021 the British Academy partnered with the Wolfson Foundation to pilot a network for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the humanities and social sciences. The Network is for UK based researchers who identify as early career, broadly described for our purposes as within 10 years of their doctorate, who are working in humanities and social science disciplines, and who are affiliated with institutions in the Midlands, South West and Scotland.

A core aim of the Network is to foster a thriving and supportive community of Early Career Researchers, which is researcher-led and inclusive, making it accessible to all researchers regardless of their funding source or background. After the two-year Pilot, the expectation is for this to be a UK-wide network tailored to researchers at postdoctoral level in the humanities and social sciences.

Importantly, the Network will be responsive to the needs and interests of the researchers themselves, with the hope that this will enable a greater number of researchers to receive support in their career ambitions, through a range of skills development, networking opportunities, workshops, and events. This reflects well the principles for Researchers set out in the Researcher Development Concordat.

Since the Network launched in late September 2021, over 1,500 ECRs have joined. Members are keen to expand their networks and benefit from training, workshops and events that will positively enhance their personal, research and professional development skills.

Over the last 10 months a broad range of events have been organised for or by the ECRs, including but not limited to: media training, policy training; How to write a compelling grant proposal; interdisciplinary workshops; how to communicate research in the social sciences to a wider audience; planning impact; working outside of academia; international collaboration; and ‘From Thesis to Monographs: Getting your PhD published’.

Reflecting the hybrid world in which researchers now operate, as well as access and participation considerations, events to date have been a mixture of online and in person, allowing ECRs to come together, learn new skills and share knowledge and learning. Everyone is encouraged to suggest events and ideas for future engagement.

The Network intends to bridge an important gap between those ECRs who have security and funding and those who do not, enabling all researchers to develop their skills and explore opportunities; offering support for those ECRs who find themselves without access to some formal support structures.

The Academy works with partners across the sector to align efforts in the interest of the ECR community. As we are seeing, the Network has the potential to be transformative for not only ECRs but the broader sector, placing ECRs at the centre of change, and allowing the sector to benefit from the knowledge and drive of ECRs from all backgrounds.

To find out more about the ECR Network and to sign up and be part of the growing community click here. For organisations interested in collaborating on an event for the ECRs please email ecr_network@thebritishacademy.ac.uk

The British Academy is a signatory to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

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