Psychologist logo
The Psychologist January February 2023 Guest Editors
Careers and professional development, Research, Teaching and learning, Work and occupational

Early career researchers: Our world, our challenges, our future

Our team of Guest Editors introduce a special issue of The Psychologist.

03 January 2023

Welcome! We are a team of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) based at the University of Bath, and we have the pleasure of guest editing this special issue of The Psychologist focused on ECRs.

Understanding the challenges that ECRs face is fundamental for determining the future of psychology. ECRs are at the brunt of many issues within the discipline; casualisation, high workloads, mental health issues, precarity, and burnout are sadly central to our day-to-day experiences, compounded by systemic problems such as discrimination and marginalisation. Equally, we are also the future of our field. As we continue to develop our careers, we have an opportunity to guide how psychology is practiced, and help make positive change that could stand for decades to come.

However, in order for this change to happen, our voices first need to be heard. We have therefore curated this special issue of The Psychologist with hopes of amplifying the voices of ECRs and kickstarting necessary conversations within the wider psychological community.

As such, we have based this issue around the theme: 'The world we have versus the world we need: What challenges do ECRs currently face, and how could addressing them change our future?'. This edition is split into three separate parts, each of which reflect a different element of the theme.

Part 1

Titled 'Navigating the current environment: Opportunities and challenges faced by ECRs', focuses on balancing academic and professional growth with personal and social needs and priorities, and includes a selection of philosophical perspectives, personal reflections and artistic expressions on history, research paradigms within power dynamics, mental health, and work/life balance.

Part 2

'Routes to change: How challenges are being or could be addressed' explores ways of addressing systemic barriers relating to research culture, global justice, and academic activism through short essays and personal reflections.

Part 3

'Visions of the future: At a crossroads between dystopias and utopias' looks to an imagined future for ECRs, exploring topics such as academic reform, inclusive practice, and the academia versus industry debate through personal reflections, think pieces, and prose fiction.

Interspersed throughout the issue are photos taken by ECRs prompted by the question: 'What does everyday life as an ECR look like for you?'

Thanks to Jon Sutton (Managing Editor), Madeleine Pownall (Associate Editor for Voices in Psychology), and the wider team at The Psychologist for this opportunity and for their support throughout this journey. We hope you enjoy this issue, and that the conversations generated are thought-provoking, inspiring, and ultimately contribute to positive change for ECRs.

Your Guest Editors

Nina Higson-Sweeney is a Psychology PhD student at the University of Bath. Funded by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership, her PhD uses mixed methods to explore fatigue in adolescent depression. She is also the host of the podcast Black Future Dr.

Annayah Prosser is a PhD student in social, moral and environmental psychology at the University of Bath. Her research explores the impact that identity and morality has on prosocial and pro-environmental change. She is the current Secretary of the BPS Social Psychology Section.

Catherine Naughtie is a Psychology PhD student at the University of Bath and part of the EPSRC AAPS CDT. Her research focuses on mixed road user interactions and how perceived vulnerability influences on road behaviour and mode choice.

Johanna Meyer is a Psychology PhD student at the University of Bath. Her research focuses on engagement with public health-relevant maps.

Eman AlBedah is a Psychology PhD Researcher at the University of Bath with interest in expanding minoritised communities' accessibility and acceptability of mental health and wellbeing services. Her PhD focus is on barriers and facilitators to mindfulness-based interventions for Muslim and Arab populations.

Marlene Staginnus is an ESRC-funded Psychology PhD student at the University of Bath. Her PhD focuses on investigating the relationship between severe antisocial behaviour and the brain as part of the international Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) consortium.

Naomi Heffer is a lecturer in psychology at Bath Spa University. Her research focuses on differences in multisensory perception between clinical groups, including those with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She is also one of the co-creators of science communications website SENSE(LESS) (