Early-career researchers

How we support researchers at the start of their career.

The British Academy is ambitious in supporting early-career researchers – from funding schemes, to supporting public engagement and providing opportunities to be involved in policy programmes.

Our flagship funding scheme is the Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme which offers a major career development opportunity for researchers who are within three years of the award of their doctorate and have not yet been appointed to a permanent academic post. The scheme is fully-funded for three years with the aim of improving researchers chances of obtaining a permanent post by the end of the award. The scheme now has over 1,000 alumni with around 84% in academic or academic-related jobs, most of them in permanent posts and more than 200 of them now Professors. Postdoctoral Fellows not only have the opportunity to develop their research and teaching experience during the award, but are also invited to networking events, offered specific training opportunities, and otherwise encouraged to be part of wider British Academy activities.

The equivalent scheme for early-career researchers who do not have a prior connection to the UK academic community is the Newton International Fellowships. This scheme is aimed at researchers within seven years of the award of their doctorate and aims to attract the most promising early-career researchers from overseas to work for two years at a UK institution with the aim of fostering long-term international collaborations. Successful applicants who move overseas at the end of the award are eligible to apply for ongoing alumni funding to maintain the UK partnership.

To complement the Postdoctoral Fellowships, the BA/Wolfson Fellowships are aimed at outstanding researchers who have been appointed to permanent academic posts (or have long-term contracts) and are within five years of the award of their doctorate. They provide successful candidates with time away from some of their administrative and teaching duties to pursue their research, along with funding for public engagement and travel. The awards offer support for three years and will enable the award-holders to continue to participate with future cohorts to build a network of outstanding researchers.

The Academy has also supported more than 100 early-career researchers through the scheme of BA/Rising Star Engagement Awards. This scheme is designed to enable established early-career academics within ten years of the award of their doctorate to actively engage in the work of the Academy and to enhance their skills and career development through the organisation of events, training and mentoring activities for a wide range of other early career researchers.

For researchers who have been in an academic post longer than five years (up to fifteen years postdoctoral), the Academy offers Mid-Career Fellowships. These awards are designed both to support outstanding individual researchers with excellent research proposals and to promote public understanding of the humanities and social sciences.

The Academy’s support for early-career researchers is also underpinned by their eligibility for the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants. While not exclusively aimed at early-career researchers, many applicants successfully use this as a first grant opportunity, offering them the chance to be a named Principal Investigator on their own award helping to build their academic profile. The awards are very flexible, offering financial support for a wide range of travel and research expenses up to £10,000 towards a specific research project that can be carried out over anything from 1-24 months.

Among the public engagement opportunities we offer our funded researchers is the Summer Showcase which brings to life fascinating interactive displays in the humanities and social sciences highlighting the latest thinking and offering visitors the opportunity to meet the leading minds, including early-career researchers, behind cutting edge research.

The Academy's strategic plan outlines our ambition to foster the next generation of researchers and to support the best researchers and emerging ideas in our subjects through flagship and new schemes. We are exploring new programmes and activities to enable us to achieve this and we regularly ask the views of early-career researchers to shape this.

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