Early-career researchers in Australia report dissatisfaction, bullying and questionable research practices. We discuss how this may contribute to the replication crisis and suggest local and international strategies to improve the industry.
Australian early-career researchers (ECRs) are struggling. Internationally, there have been concerning reports from researchers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines regarding poor job security and career prospects, as well as discontentment with the general work environment.
The Australian ECR experience
The situation being endured by early career researchers in Australia is grim, unrelenting and punishing. It is burning out promising young researchers, it is causing mental anguish and causing unnecessary harm. The hard truth is, sometimes it can even end in suicide. Institutions and the supervisors of early career researchers have direct responsibility for the researchers n their charge. Something has to change and soon! This open access paper, published in June 2023 takes a look at the issues.
ECRs almost unanimously indicated a “love of research”. However, many are struggling and most intend to leave academia (Fig. 1a). ECRs reported frequent bullying and questionable research practices, and the majority agree with the statement that “this is a poor time for a young person to start in this career” (Fig. 1a,b). Inadequate job security, a lack of funding or a lack of independent positions are some of the reasons that ECRs felt motivated to leave academia in 2019. In 2022, personal wellbeing was also a major concern and over half of respondents indicated that they were considering leaving because of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns related to their work.
Christian, K., Larkins, Ja. & Doran, M.R. (2023) We must improve conditions and options for Australian ECRs. Nat Hum Behav (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-023-01621-w
Publisher (Open Access): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-023-01621-w