Early career researchers: career and skills development

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How principal investigators and line managers can help early career researchers

As a principal investigator or line manager of an early career researcher (ECR), your role is key to helping them develop their skills, knowledge and careers.

Make time to listen

Listen to ECRs to find out about:

  • their strengths
  • their expectations of working on your project
  • how you can work collaboratively with them
  • what their development needs and ambitions are.

You should:

  • continue this dialogue with the ECRs in your team throughout the life of the project
  • keep your ‘people skills’ up to date.

Share information

You can help ECRs by:

  • sharing your own career and development experiences with them, especially experiences which may be insightful and inspirational
  • sharing good practice of how to record your own development and help them to translate their skills and experience into a job application or a funding application
  • signposting ECRs to relevant funding and development opportunities.

Make them feel valued

ECRs are an investment in the future of research. You should:

  • give them credit when they deserve it and provide constructive feedback to facilitate growth and improvement
  • celebrate good things together, for example by sharing ECR achievements on your project and beyond with the rest of the community.

Help them to grow

You should nurture talent and look after the interests of any ECRs you work with. You can do this by:

  • giving them meaningful research tasks on your project which will enable their development as researchers
  • balancing the administrative duties you delegate to ECRs with research, public engagement, and project management support tasks, to facilitate holistic development.

Last updated: 9 March 2023

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