Early Career Researchers

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This is a space for anyone who self-identifies as an early career researcher. All disciplines are welcome!

Hi all,
A few of us received an email from MBIE on Friday, inviting us to a new ECR workshop on Tuesday afternoon. I'm interpreting the wording of this email invite to mean everyone who wants to attend is welcome, so if you didn't get an invite, this is me sharing it around. I've uploaded the agenda and calendar invite to the file section of this ECR space, let me know if you have any issues and I'll fwd the email itself to you.

Kia ora koutou
I am emailing you because you have been suggested to us as early career researchers and research staff (ECRs) who may be interested in Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways programme. We would like to invite you to the Te Ara Paerangi consultation workshop for early career researchers, which will be held on Tuesday 8 March between 1pm and 4pm. Please feel free to pass this invitation on to other ECRs who may be interested in attending this workshop – we only ask that they respond to the attached calendar invite if possible so we know if we need extra breakout groups (however, we won’t turn people away if they forget!).

The workshop will be delivered via Zoom – please use the below details to access the workshop.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84665269627?pwd=K1RpZDUvcFZ0dWdPbUt4SkNKc201UT09

Meeting ID: 846 6526 9627

Passcode: 000851

The session will follow usual Zoom etiquette:
Please make sure the name on your Zoom window is your name.
Keep your camera on (where possible)
Mute your mic
Use the “raise hand” reaction during Q & A times if you want to ask a question
Use the chat function for general commentary

We have also attached a one page outline of the session, which contains the key questions our facilitators will be asking. This session is similar in scope to our Workforce workshops, but with a focus on three breakout topics to enable deeper discussion of the issues and potential options. Please take 5 minutes to look over this before the session, and please feel welcome to come with your own questions for the group or for MBIE. The breakout sessions will involve breaking into smaller groups of approximately 6-10 people to support in-depth discussion and participation. You will be randomly assigned a breakout group and facilitator at the session – please email [email protected] if you have a preferred facilitator (names in the attached agenda) and we will allocate you to their breakout group. There is a help desk WhatsApp channel set up should you have any process or technical difficulties. You can access this via this link https://chat.whatsapp.com/FIj4mibT7E5ALnQxkdqiuK (on your mobile works best).

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The concept of early-career researchers is bandied about a lot, especially in the Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways process, but what is an ECR? Definitions are a dime a dozen, it seems like every grant, fellowship and award provides their own equally problematic version of ECR in order to establish an appropriate sized cohort.

Are PhD students ECRs? Are all research students ECRs? Is time as a student part of a career? Should it only be once you're paid a wage/salary that your early-career starts? How long are you an ECR for? Is it a set number of years (excluding career breaks), is there an age cut-off? Or should ECR be defined by that central C? Surely progression within a 'career' should determine career stage, but how can that be judged when we all know different fields and sub-fields do things in different ways? Perhaps the key problem is that we don't have well-defined career paths, so assessing career stage is impossible. Or is an ECR as undefinable as a 'state of mind'? Still... how can you define a state of mind as an eligibility requirement?

So you see, I would argue that noone really knows what an ECR is and hence there is a massive disparity in definition. Unfortunately without a good definition, ECR is used against us. We can fall out of boxes without falling into new ones, we're too-early, too-late(-early) or early, but missing something else...

So comment below, what's your favourite definition of an ECR?