ESRC enhances support for early career researchers

Research and Innovation Development Office

Category: Research news

18 August 2016

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently announced a series of changes coming to its support for early career researchers.

Following a review prompted by respondents to their 2015 Strategic Plan consultation, the ESRC detailed several measures centred around what they have identified as the three distinct ECR stages:

  • Doctoral
    • Work with new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) to ensure they are providing realistic careers support and advice for careers both within and beyond academia.
  • Immediately postdoctorate
    • Ten per cent of the ESRC's studentship budget will be used to fund Postdoctoral Fellowships through the ESRC’s 14 new Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).
      • The DTPs start in October 2017 and the aim is to fund around 50 Fellowships each year from an annual £4.7 million fund.
      • Fellowships will be available to ESRC and non-ESRC funded doctoral graduates who are within one year of completing their PhD and will provide the opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills (further information will be issued in due course).
    • Work with key stakeholders across the sector to establish the extent to which the UK social sciences PhD is providing effective preparation for careers both within and beyond academia and look at how competitive our doctoral graduates are internationally.
  • Transition to independent researcher
    • Introduce a New Investigator strand of the Research Grants scheme to replace the current Future Research Leaders scheme.
      • New Investigator Grants are specifically aimed at supporting those looking to make the transition to an independent researcher through managing their first major research project.
      • The scheme has an open date so that researchers can apply for it at any point rather than having to wait for an annual competition.
    • Encourage the participation of ECRs through other funding schemes, for example, requiring ECRs to be included as co-investigators
    • Develop a statement of expectations for how postdoctoral researchers on grants should be supported and require grant holders to set out how they will support the professional development of postdoctoral researchers on grants and include it as part of the assessment process

All in all, sounds like good news for ECRs! For further info, check out the ESRC Postgraduate training strategy 2017-2023 and their report methodology.

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