Early Career Researcher Network: external evaluation of the Early Career Researcher Network pilot

Conducted by the Technology Development Group and published in October 2022, this external report offers a comprehensive and independent review of the pilot phase of the British Academy's Early Career Researcher Network (ECR Network).

The report evaluates how successful the ECR Network has been since it launched in the spring of 2021 in achieving its strategic objectives. Namely, to:

  • Support individual researchers to realise their potential by providing opportunities that they do not currently have access to
  • Contribute to equality of opportunity for researchers through encouraging diversity and inclusivity
  • Develop networks to nurture and facilitate greater engagement between and across researchers and the wider research community, regionally and nationally
  • Draw on the Academy’s unique ability to convene and nurture intersectoral collaboration to create unique opportunities for researchers

Overall, the report emphasises how the ECR Network:

  • Meets a clear demand in the SHAPE research community
  • Adds value to the experiences of UK-based ECRs working in SHAPE disciplines
  • Has shown promising growth figures (expanding its membership base faster than anticipated)
  • Has achieved a diverse membership with regard to its equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) objectives

The report states:

"The ECR Network launched by the British Academy, with support from the Wolfson Foundation, is addressing an important need in the arts, humanities and social sciences landscape. There has been a very clear demonstration of demand for the Network, across a wide range of employment (or unemployment) statuses. With the Network launched as recently as the spring of 2021, the greatly larger than expected number of ECRs registered and affiliated to just three regional hubs, one of which is brand new, is a key indication of the success of the Network at this early stage."

The report also highlights areas for development and improvement for the ECR Network as it moves forward into its post-pilot phase. Namely, the need to:

  • Work on involving ECRs outside of universities
  • Encourage more active ECR participation in driving the Network
  • Make the roles and relationships that [Cluster] partners have with the Academy clearer – and based on a shared understanding that the ECRs must really be in charge.

The ECR Network welcomes these encouraging findings and hopes to use the suggestions outlined in the report to inform its approach to strategic objectives as it moves into its post-pilot phase.

Click the ‘Download the full report’ button above to read the external evaluation in full.

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