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Careers and professional development, Leadership and teamwork, Work and occupational

Routes to change

We asked our Twitter followers about how challenges relating to ECRs are being, or could be, addressed.

03 January 2023

What are some of the things you wish people would do to better support ECRs?

Eradicate precarious contracts. Provide mentors in workplaces. Protect ECRs from predatory older academics.
Lecturer

Increase the stipend. I'm below the London living wage at the moment. It's so difficult to survive.
PhD student

I think there's quite a seniority bias in academia, which makes it hard to get funding as an ECR, and you can't get independent funding until you've proven that you can get independent funding! Small pots of funding that are genuinely ring-fenced for ECRs would help.
Lecturer

Pay us more money. Actual practical wellbeing support, rather than workshops on mindfulness and how to 'survive' the PhD, as though merely surviving is the aim.
PhD student

I wish people would understand that we’re human beings and not objects. I wish people would listen when we speak up about our work environment, how we’re feeling, etc. rather than being dismissive about it.
PhD student

Pay us a living wage!
PhD student

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

That I don’t have to be the finished product – a PhD is about learning to be a researcher.
PhD student

Check in with the thesis everyday (doesn't have to be long writing sessions). Take weekends off.
Hourly paid lecturer

Take time off when you need it and do not feel guilty about it. Your mental and physical well-being are much more important than deadlines and an academic career. It is okay to prioritise other areas of your life over work.
PhD student

It is possible to do it in your allotted funding time. Let go of perfectionism – good enough is good enough!
PhD student

Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone's experiences are so different that you'd be comparing apples with oranges – it is pointless. Take breaks before your body forces you to.
PhD student and lecturer

Treat the PhD like a job (which it is!), keep your social life going, make sure to talk to your colleagues at a similar career stage to feel less alone.
PhD student

Not to internalise the criticism of your work, or blame yourself for the difficult job market.
Lecturer