Surviving the Early Stages of (a UK) Research Career

Someone pointed out (quite rightly) that the tips in the link provided in the last post on surviving a research career were biased towards US researchers, and that the system is a little different in the UK. That’s true – although the tips provided in that blog (for securing tenure) are also useful for anyone trying to get and keep an academic or research post in the UK. However, I thought I’d try to find some advice from UK sources for those of you who are currently in fixed-term posts and working towards something more permanent, within academia, in an HEI or in a different sector altogether.

A great place to start looking for survival and career development tips is’s Career Development section which has a whole load of articles, case studies, ‘top tips’ and white papers. Some of the most useful ones might be:

There are also a fair few academic articles about the development and employment of Early Career Researchers (including what we mean by this phrase). See my post of September 3rd, for some suggestions about what you might read if you’re interested in any of this research. You won’t find easy answers or a magic formula for success, but they do offer interesting insights into and critiques of this career phase.

If you’d rather hear real stories of career paths from people with PhDs, you can find those on the Vitae website at While some of the stories there are from people who are now academics, a couple are from people with PhDs who have stayed in Higher Education, but have moved out of an academic role into academic-related positions. Dr. Matthew Williamson is an Education Adviser:

and Dr. Alison James is Head of Learning and Teaching:

These types of post are fairly popular with people who have a PhD, but who decided academia isn’t for them (I should know!)

University Researchers and the Job Market: A Practical Career Development Resource for Research Staff is also a useful guide for research staff who are thinking seriously about their career development and options.

Finally, the Faculty is also offering a couple of careers oriented workshops in the near future. There are still a couple of places (but only a couple!) left on the Academic Career Planning session on Feb 17th, and a few left on the non-academic CVs session on March 24th. As usual, if you’re interested in either session, book your place through the Training Calendar.


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