Vitae Global Pioneer updates - August policy update 2023

Welcome to the global Vitae policy focus for members. 

Impact of war on early career researchers in Ukraine  

The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc) have written an open letter to the European Commission highlighting the impact of the war in Ukraine on early career researchers. This includes a significant drop in the number of researchers, cuts to salaries, and a deterioration in working conditions. This is particularly concerning given that a strong research and innovation sector is essential for sustainable recovery in the future. Further information can be found in an article on Research Professional.  

Reviews on researcher careers in Europe published  

The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC), which manages the Vitae programme, is a partner in the Sustainable Careers for Researcher Empowerment (SECURE) project, which has recently released two reviews of practices and policies that affect researcher careers in Europe. The first, a State of the Art on Research Career Frameworks highlights the need for new guidance on researcher careers across Europe, particularly around career pathways, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and professional development. The second, a State of the Art on Tenure Track-Life Models highlights a huge variance internationally around the understanding of pathways to open-ended and permanent contracts for postdoctoral researchers, as well as what is feasible, desirable, and acceptable at institutional and national levels.  

New Practice Pathway: Pathways to creating cultures in which researchers can flourish  

The latest edition of Practice Pathways has been launched since last month’s message. The topic is: Pathways to creating cultures in which researchers can flourish. With so much work in the sector currently being undertaken around research culture, we aim to regularly update this pathway.  

Language barriers for non-native English speakers  

A new journal article by Tatsuya Amano, University of Queensland, et al., has quantified the costs of being a non-native English speaker in science. A survey of over 900 researchers globally found that 91% needed more time to read a paper, 51% more time to write a paper, and on average were asked to revise papers to adjust language 12.5 more frequently than non-native English speakers. The consequences are huge amounts of extra time during a researcher’s career, substantial stress and anxiety, and a loss of talent. Among the report’s recommendations are calls for institutions to provide training opportunities for English reading and writing, as well as financial support for editing and translation from and into multiple languages.  

Universal basic research funding  

Ghent University is setting up a new scheme for academics where full- and part-time researchers will receive at least 30,000 euros annually for research. The move recognises that European Union, Belgian, and local research funding is highly competitive, creating a situation in which researchers are under constant pressure and encouraged to be risk-averse. Significantly, the funding will not discriminate between disciplines, despite a huge variety in the costs and materials needed, and so this will not fully even the playing field. However, the grants will still enable those across disciplines to fund or co-fund PhD grants and smaller, experimental projects and, it is hoped, work to improve research culture.  

CoARA Boost and working groups  

CRAC will be part of the consortium for CoARA Boost, a European Union-funded project to enhance CoARA’s operational capacity and provide means to investigate and implement new models for research assessment. CRAC’s role is the monitoring and evaluation of two working groups, along with broader input into management, development, and engagement. In addition to this, we are pleased to have a role in the formation of two other working groups. We look forward to sharing insights and learning with Vitae members, as well as to advocating for the recognition of diverse researcher skills and competencies.  

Kind regards,  
Dr Yolana Pringle 
Vitae | Policy and Evidence Manager 
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