The Research Staff Committee (RSC) brings together College and University staff involved with the support and training of early career researchers (ECRs), along with representatives of the college ECR community itself, to discuss issues and develop initiatives relating to researcher experience and support. Our remit is to serve ECRs who are identified as post-docs, grade 6-8 research staff, and clinical research (vets & meds) and teaching associates. Since our inception two years ago, we have made important progress in a range of areas that improve the ECR experience.
What have we been doing?
Communication and effective reach
We have amassed a database of all new and existing ECRs across the College to enable us to effectively communicate relevant news and information directly. In addition, all new ECRs now receive an immediate welcome email on arrival in their role and we use this as an opportunity to provide key information relevant to starting a post here, including signposting them to resources, key people, and other contacts.
To further improve communication, connectivity and transparency for ECRs across the college, our main achievements over the last year have been the appointment of research staff champions and the delivery of new ECR webpages.
We have developed dedicated CMVM ECR webpages to enable a single online landing place for ECRs to access College specific information for a variety of topics. Content includes information on career planning, funding, fellowship advice, societies, events (including recorded talks), teaching, health and wellbeing, information about the research staff committee and our champions, and the Edinburgh Scientific and Clinical Track programmes (ESAT & ECAT).
There are also useful links to broader resources, such as the University Research Staff Hub and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD).
Research staff champions
In line with implementation of the actions arising from the Concordat to Support the Career Development for Researchers across the University, we appointed named research staff champions at the Bioquarter and Easter Bush campuses to ensure strong local support for research staff at an early stage of their career and to promote a positive research culture.
Although arrangements already exist for the support of research staff in some parts of the College, the aim was to ensure that all research staff throughout the College have similar provision. Champions can be approached for direction to the best source of support for a range of issues such as training, careers advice, and support for transition to another role, as well as other issues related to work.
Our champions provide an informed link to support elsewhere in the College/University and take a proactive approach to engagement with local research staff, including holding ECR events and supporting postdoctoral society activities. The network of champions engages with the RSC and with the University Staff Champions Network to contribute to ongoing development of support and promotion of a positive research culture.
Career planning and support
We have also focused on providing support for ECRs to develop skills for research and prepare for their next career steps through helping to enable accreditation for supervision, promoting research training opportunities, and sharing and highlighting ECR specific funding calls.
The ECR webpages provide useful information on these, but also on a range of other topics including how to get involved in supervision and teaching, as well as advice and resources for fellowships and travel or pilot-study funding opportunities. The RSC has also provided resources to support making the most of your P&DR, and to prepare for careers in and beyond academia, including hosting several talks from CMVM staff and alumni who have made the transition from ECR to tenure-track positions, or from research into other careers.
Celebrating our ECRS
We have rigorously supported the postdoctoral societies across CMVM during their activities for National Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW).
In the last few years, PAW has regularly attracted over 100 nominations from peers and awarded prizes for our outstanding postdocs across the CMVM centres and institutes. Categories included recognising public engagement activities, student supervision/support and citizenship (contribution to the wider community).
PAW will run again in September, so follow the ECR communications nearer the time and get your nominations in!
How can you influence positive culture across CMVM or get involved directly? We are always keen to identify what areas ECRs need support and how we can influence these.
Contacting your Research Staff Champion or postdoctoral committee representative is an efficient way to get your views aired at the RSC committee meetings. Even better, join your local postdoc committee or offer to become a RS champion. We are specifically looking for new champions at the IGC and George Square and are also recruiting a new chair to represent the Medical School on the RSC from spring/summer 2023. If you’re interested, please get in touch.
Contact us: CMVMResearchStaff@ed.ac.uk
Follow us on Twitter @ECRCMVM