Early Career Researcher Network pilot programme extended after successful launch

27 Sep 2022

The British Academy’s Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN) pilot programme will be extended until March 2024 after a successful launch that has seen over 1,800 researchers sign up in its first year.

The ECRN programme, made possible thanks to a partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, aims to establish an inclusive, UK-wide network for Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the humanities and social sciences, providing opportunities for skills development and networking across the whole country.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the first hub, in the Midlands, and the ECRN has since expanded to include two more hubs – in the South West and Scotland.

The first year of the Academy’s Early Career Researcher Network has seen 42 institutions participating across three hubs and 1,870 registered members as of July 2022 (far exceeding the initial target of 500 members within a year of launch). Of these, 87% are non-British Academy funded ECRs while over 58% of the Network are based at non-Russell Group universities.

All humanities and social sciences researchers who identify as 'early career' are eligible to join the ECRN, regardless of their funding source or background. This includes those working outside of academia, in independent research organisations and other policy or third-sector institutions, and those not in employment but with relevant links to Scotland, the Midlands and South West research communities.

Hetan Shah, the British Academy’s Chief Executive, said: 

“The Academy is pleased to be broadening the way we support the research community in new ways alongside our traditional funding role. The network is part of our wider ambition to become a home for the SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) community. The relationship is not just one way. Not only are we supporting early career researchers, they are also transforming the British Academy through their energy and by giving us new perspectives and input. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Wolfson Foundation for their support which has enabled us to pilot this new initiative.”

Dr Francesca Peruzzo, a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s School of Education and member of the ECRN, said: 

“The British Academy’s ECRN has become a great platform for expanding my network and gaining experience as an early career researcher. It has enabled me to establish solid relationships with other ECRs across the UK so that I feel part of a bigger community of colleagues, friends, and collaborators. I have also refined skills such as grant application writing and presenting my work. In-person events have in turn boosted my self-confidence and made me feel heard as part of a bigger community that, in precarious conditions, is defining its place and future in the academic context.”

Dr Yasser Eliwa, Senior Lecturer in Accounting at Loughborough University and member of the ECRN, said: 

“A major benefit of the ECRN has been the opportunity to connect with a diverse range of researchers, all of whom are unified by the same goal of trying to make a meaningful difference to the higher education and research sector and indeed to society. Meeting people at the same stage in their careers and having the opportunity to share what’s important to you is particularly rewarding. I’ve learned a great deal during my time in the Network, particularly around working with multi-disciplinary teams, and was privileged to be able to present at Network events. This has had a significant impact on the development of my portfolio.”

Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on [email protected]  / 07500 010 432.

Sign up to our email newsletters