Challenges for early arts and humanities careers highlighted

Major challenges facing early career researchers have been highlighted in a new report.

September 6, 2014

Published by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Support for Arts and Humanities Researchers Post-PhD presents the results of a detailed survey highlighting the kind of issues faced by researchers in the arts and humanities in the period immediately following doctoral study.

Many of them are on fixed-term contracts, but around half of these “gave negatively or neutrally phrased reasons for taking up their current position(s)”, based on “a perceived lack of choice”. Around 92 per cent of ECRs on fixed-term contracts “expressed concerns about their career now and in the future”.

The online survey and interviews carried out by Oakleigh Consulting also revealed the importance of starting “to seek advice on pursuing an academic career prior to or at the start of [a] doctorate”, something that 61 per cent of those on permanent contracts had done, compared with only 43 per cent of those still on fixed-term contracts.

However, since 71 per cent of ECRs on a permanent contract had previously held a fixed-term contract, and a quarter had held three or more, there was heartening evidence that short-term posts can be a pathway to permanent positions.

Asked about the support most useful for career development, the ECRs surveyed pointed to “advice with preparing grant applications”, “time to publish”, and “mentorship”. The report also flagged up the value of “networks for sharing experiences”.

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

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