Report explores the occupations of former research staff who move beyond academic research

Report explores the occupations of former research staff who move beyond academic research

New report: 'What do research staff do next?'


Vitae, the organisation which champions the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers in the UK, has published a new report ‘What do research staff do next?’, which explores for the first time the career paths of research staff (postdoctoral researcher, research fellow, etc.) who left research posts in European universities or research institutes to work in other occupations and employment sectors. ‘What do research staff do next?’ is the newest title in the series of ‘What do researchers do? publications and online resources. The report includes advice to institutions and individual researchers on how to support current research staff in making this transition. 

Key findings:

  • Former research staff are employed in a wide range of occupations, many still supporting the research system through funders, policymakers, institutional research offices, public engagement, knowledge exchange and publishing
  • Around three-quarters leave academia looking for better long-term employment prospects, better job security and not having to work on fixed term contracts. Women are significantly more likely to be looking for better work-life balance than men
  • In making the transition many researchers find the loss of academic identity and ‘giving up’ a long-held ambition to be an academic challenging
  • Job satisfaction is high: over four-fifths are satisfied with their current job
  • 78% of respondents aspired to an academic career when they were research staff: only 18% would go back.   

This project also included creating 40 career stories of the experiences of former research staff who have moved beyond academic research in making the decision to leave, the challenges and opportunities and their current employment.

Dr Janet Metcalfe, Head of Vitae commented:

“What do research staff do next? is an important addition to our knowledge of research careers. For the first time we have an insight into the career opportunities for research staff beyond academia.”  

The report has been officially launched during the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference in Manchester on 12-13 September 2016 and can be viewed here