Project background

Background information on the 'What do research staff do next?' project

Vitae, in collaboration with Naturejobs and other partners, are investigating the careers of research staff who moved from research posts in European higher education institutions to other employment sectors.

Our aim is to develop a better understanding of how these researchers transition, what careers do they have and their reflections on the transition process and current career paths.

We have some knowledge of the first few years of researchers’ career paths after their doctoral degree through Vitae's 'What do researchers do?', but very little is known about subsequent career stages, particularly for those who were initially employed as researchers in higher education. The project will examine how and why early career researchers who have been employed in postdoctoral positions leave higher education and enter other occupations.

The project involves a survey and subsequent collection of the stories of a variety of researchers’ career paths.

The overall aims are:

  • to understand the knowledge, views, attitudes and actions of researchers previously employed in higher education in relation to their career
  • explore researchers’ reflections of their professional and career development needs while in higher education, in the context of their current employment
  • provide an invaluable resource to early career researchers and those supporting the careers of researchers on potential employment opportunities for research staff considering moving out of higher education
  • create a searchable database of the career stories of research staff across the disciplines, particularly the transitions and tipping points in their careers

Vitae will publish a report on the survey results under the What do researchers do? series early 2015.

Project will build an increasingly comprehensive picture of the subsequent careers of researchers who have been employed in higher education, reveal the tipping points in their careers, understand their decision-making processes and explore their experiences and views of their career paths, such that we can answer the question ‘What do research staff do next?’.