Posted in Recap

Recap: First Live #ECRchat

This week’s chat was hosted by Katie Wheat, a postdoc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University.

First, a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in the #ECRchat discussions over the past couple of weeks. When it started to seem like there was a need for this chat (beginning with the first few tweets between me, Hazel, and @biggerbrains) I had no idea just how many people would come along and bring such amazing and important suggestions (I counted around 100 tweeps using #ECRchat from the start of chat today).

Second, thank you to everyone who came along, joined in, and spread the word. I really hope you will all be back over the coming weeks to tackle the many issues raised during the chat. If you missed it (or it just went too fast), you can view it again via this Storify. I have also archived the entire chat, in case you prefer to read the unedited version, here (#ECRchat Archive 19/07/2012).

So many interesting topics came up, and many immediately sparked discussions. There were many common themes and issues that seem to be generally important to ECRs at all stages and from all disciplines. Hazel compiled a list during the chat

  • What is an early career researcher?
  • What is a postdoc and how many (if any) should you do?
  • Track record relative to opportunity (issues surrounding maternity leave, RA jobs, etc.)
  • Work-life balance (or lack of)
  • Finding and managing collaborations
  • Taking a PhD outside of academia
  • Mentoring – in and outside your institution
  • Academia and social media
  • Issues surrounding relocation
  • Developing an independent research profile (including if you work on someone elses project)
  • Changing track – coming back from career breaks or changing directions
  • Funding requirements and grant applications
  • Publishing issues
  • How to measure success

Hazel will be back with more information about how you can get involved in selecting the topic each week. If you don’t see your suggestion here, you can tweet us (Katie or Hazel) or add it in the comments below.

Over the coming weeks we will be looking for regular and guest hosts. Do let us know if you would be interested in hosting. We will post more information about this on the blog soon. Lots more resources and information to be collected here in the future, such as this list of ECRchat tweeps by Marguerite Galea, and this one by @DrSustainable.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or via #ECRchat.

Really looking forward to chatting with you all again,


#ECRchat will be back at the same time next week with your host Hazel Ferguson. That’s 11:00-12:00 in the UK (BST), 12:00-13:00 in Europe (CEST), and 20:00-21:00 in Australia (EST), on Thursday 26th July.



Postdoc in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, researching visual word recognition. Likes MEG, TMS, fMRI, reading, waffles, and motorbiking.

5 thoughts on “Recap: First Live #ECRchat

  1. Great work guys, thanks for compiling a list! I guess my issue sort of fits in with the second point on the list but is a bit broader: what should be my long-term plans as an ECR? What is a reasonable expectation in terms of career progression (in my case, an academic career), e.g. how many years of postdoc, then lecturer/assistant professor, then senior lecturer/associate professor, before hopefully ending up with a professorship? (Somewhat wishful thinking here, I know). Perhaps we could broaden the second point to include this broader future-perspective kind of discussion?

    1. Annelies, just because I think it is a crucial and interesting question, I thought I’d put in my thoughts here…

      I don’t think there is any such thing as a “normal” pathway through the ECR phase towards a professorial position. One thing we’ve learnt repeatedly through running a Postdoctoral Academy here at UNSW is a reminder of what we all already know – that there are far fewer professors than there are postdocs, and that most will find alternatives or be satisfied at the lower levels.

      As for the distribution of trajectories – I’ve heard and seen people move from level C straight into being awarded as a Federation Fellow (which comes with a professorial level salary and would presumably a professorial position at just about any university in Australia), and I’ve seen others flounder through four or more postdoctoral positions. Honestly, I feel that concentrating on doing the best research with the best people is still the best way to end up at the top end of the distribution – but it certainly isn’t the only way.

      I think the move that requires the most work, planning and heartache is probably the postdoc -> tenure move (but then some who’ve faced the struggle of moving to Level E might disagree with me!)

  2. Thanks Adam and Annelies. Probably many of the proposed topics could be used to discuss this issue, but I might put a separate topic in for people to vote on called ‘career progression and planning’… It should probably be in there anyway as it definitely came up last night…

    For me, it comes down to how we measure success. I’m not sure using terms that imply a linear progression along a defined track, like ‘post-doc’, ‘early career’, ‘track record’ etc., puts academics in a good position to develop a broader definition.

  3. Really interesting comments, thanks! I agree that career progression and planning is certainly a useful topic for discussion. However, I also agree with Hazel that is it useful to think about career progression in a broader sense than just ‘how to become a prof’. Especially given how few actually make it to that level.
    This topic could generate some really interesting discussions and views when thrown out to #ECRchat! It seems like there are two closely related, but almost conflicting, viewpoints there, 1. what can we do to maximse our chances of following the straightforward academic path?, and 2. how can we position ourselves to have a fruitful career, no matter what the direction? I’m really interested in this whole area, and whether our ‘generation’ of researchers will change the shape of academic careers over the coming years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s