The SPA coordinates a network of early career researchers (ECRs) working in Social Policy – by ‘early career’, people usually mean those both inside & outside academia who have completed their PhD in the last five years.  (If you are currently studying for a PhD, though, then the SPA Postgraduate Network is for you).  However, if you don’t quite fit this five-year definition and still feel like an early career researcher, then you are still really welcome to join!

The network is based around a mailing list through which we advertise ECR-targeted funding opportunities (both from the SPA and other early career initiatives), other resources and events, as well as providing a space where we can email each other about any ECR-related issues that we face.  For instructions on joining/leaving the list see here (the list name is social-policy-ECR), or just drop me an email using the contact details below.

We are also starting to organise events for ECRs, including at the SPA conference each year, so we can actually meet face-to-face from time-to-time.  And we have recently set up an award – the ‘Best Early Career Researcher Paper Award’ – linked to the SPA annual conference, which we really encourage all ECRs attending the conference to submit their papers to.

Online resources

There are also several useful sources for ECRs online:

  • On publishing: an excellent ‘Meet the Editors and Publisher’ event was held at the SPA Conference in 2013; you can watch it on YouTube here. Personally I also love this guide to ‘learning to love rejection’, after which I’ve started listing all of my failed papers on my personal website…
  • On getting jobs & advancing careers: we’re planning some future events linked to careers for ECRs. In the meantime, there are some tips on the SPA postgraduate employability site here.  You might also be interested in the University and College Union (UCU) guides to Research Careers and Applying for New Jobs, or the Vitae guide to Developing as a Researcher.
  • Other ECR networks: the union UCU also has an early career network, which you can find out about here. And many Universities have their own early career networks that span all disciplines, so check internally if it exists, and if not, encourage your University to set one up!

ECR representative on the SPA Executive

If you have any queries then just get in touch with me (the SPA ECR representative), Ben Baumberg, here, and I’ll be happy to help and/or to raise this with the full SPA Executive on your behalf.  Or just get in touch if you have other ideas for the ECR network and would like to discuss them!