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Careers and professional development, Developmental, Education, Research

Opportunities and challenges faced by Early Career Researchers

We jumped on Twitter to ask a number of Early Career Researchers about their career in psychology and the challenges they face.

03 January 2023

What are the highlights of your current ECR role?

Being done with the PhD and planning for what's next in terms of research and publications. Boost of confidence of having managed to finish a PhD despite High Performance Learning teaching in three departments across two universities.
Hourly paid lecturer

Having a full time, permanent job. Working with brilliant students, doing my research over the summer.
Lecturer

Allows me to be independent, take autonomy with projects, mentor other students joining the lab, focus on skill development and training.
PhD student

Getting paid for my work (as compared to PhD where you do a huge amount of research, produce a lot of research outputs but get paid virtually nothing).
Post doc

Having the ability to follow my own research goals – even though I struggle to get funding for the work. Also my fabulous students.
Lecturer

Opportunity to work on self-defined projects at the cutting edge of scientific understanding.
PhD student

The friends I've made, being constantly challenged, finally finding security in my Lecturer role.
PhD student and lecturer

Research infrastructures, industrial collaborations, good research environment.
Post doc

What is some of the worst advice you have been given to cope with the challenges/stressors you have faced as an ECR?

To work evenings and weekends! It's unavoidable sometimes but to have that as a standard makes me feel guilty for having time off. I appreciated constructive advice for time management much more!
PhD student

Only work your contracted hours. This is not possible when on a Teaching Only or Teaching and Scholarship contract with little or no research time.
Lecturer

Work more, and prioritise work above all else. Work for free to get publications, work for free to put in funding applications. Put off buying a house, getting married, having children, having a life, all so you can focus on your career.
Post doc

As a new lecturer, struggling to keep up on research with my teaching load, I was advised to spend less time helping my students. I realise that's what many academics are forced to do to get by, but the solution should be appropriate workloads, not short-changing students!
Lecturer

‘Tackling procrastination’ workshops full of harmful ableist nonsense. Suggestion that disabled students should go on sick leave when their disabilities impact their productivity!
PhD student

That you have to suffer to get your PhD, and that the process being 'painful' is okay and normal.
PhD student

Pretty much all of it! I think folks are genuinely trying to help when they offer advice, but everyone's circumstances are so different that one size does not fit all.
PhD student and lecturer