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Academic careers: what do early career researchers think?
  1. The SSM ECR Subcommittee (2015) and Professor Simon Capewell (SSM President)
  1. Correspondence to Professor Simon Capewell, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, The Waterhouse Building, Dover St, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 5DA, UK; Capewell{at}liverpool.ac.uk

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As Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is the official journal of the Society for Social Medicine (SSM), we thought it appropriate to share some of the members' views.

Are young researchers getting a fair deal?

Early career researchers (ECRs) are often anecdotally described as facing major challenges. These challenges reportedly include lack of job security, too few opportunities to carve out their own interests, fighting to survive in competitive institutions and being perceived as resources rather than as people. These issues have attracted increasing attention in scientific circles and now also in the media.1–3

In response to these concerns, the SSM ECR Subcommittee conducted an ECR members' survey in early 2015 to obtain views on a range of issues. We had 65 responses (response rate 50.7%) of whom approximately three-quarters were female, and a third were based in London.

Responses clustered around three main themes: job instability, limited opportunities to develop an academic career and lack of mentoring.

Job instability

Concerns about job instability are very apparent among ECR members of the SSM. Of those who responded to the question, 84% reported having unstable careers with short-term contracts. Although many members had been based at their institution for a number of years, of those who have completed their graduate …

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