Early Career Researcher Network poised for nationwide rollout after successful pilot phase

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Following a successful three-year pilot phase, during which almost 4,000 researchers have signed up, the British Academy's Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN) is poised for a nationwide rollout over the coming 18 months.

The University of Stirling, which was announced as a host for the third hub in the initial pilot programme in 2022, will continue to lead the Network’s Scotland cluster alongside the University of Glasgow.

Funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and the Wolfson Foundation, the ECRN is an inclusive, UK-wide network for and led by Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the humanities and social sciences, providing opportunities for skills development and networking – from mentoring programmes and grant writing retreats to lunch and learn sessions and publishing conferences. 

Since its inception in Autumn 2021, the ECRN pilot has achieved significant early success, including:

•    Welcoming 47 institutions into the network;
•    launching four clusters located in the Midlands and mid-Wales, the South West of England and South Wales, Scotland, and London;
•    securing five years of generous support from the Wolfson Foundation;
•    receiving a positive independent evaluation by the Technology Development Group, which hailed the network as ‘an undoubted success among ECRs’, fulfilling a ‘clear demand’.

The initiative is now set to embark on a new phase, with the University of Lincoln, alongside Nottingham and Coventry Universities, leading the Midlands and mid-Wales cluster. The Universities of Stirling and Glasgow will continue to lead the Network’s Scotland cluster while the University of Greenwich, King’s College London, Middlesex University London and University College London remain the lead partners for the London cluster. The process of recruiting new delivery partners in the South West and South Wales region is continuing and further information regarding this is expected to be announced in due course.

Professor Simon Swain FBA, the British Academy’s Vice-President for Higher Education and Research, said: “We are very grateful to the GW4 Alliance and the University of Birmingham for their exemplary leadership in founding and taking the ECRN from strength to strength. Their invaluable contributions have been vital to the success of the pilot phase.

“The ECRN’s popularity is extremely pleasing and reflects both the engagement of our community and the vital need for such a network. We are now set for the UK-wide growth of the Network and ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Professor John Scott FBA, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Plymouth and Chair of the Advisory Board of the British Academy’s ECRN, said: “The Academy is immensely proud of the ECRN's pioneering spirit. Its success stems from a strong collaborative ethos among our lead partners and the generous support from our funders.

“Our Early Career Researchers, with their vision and drive, are the heart of the Network. We warmly welcome our new lead partners and look forward to their contributions as we step into an exciting new chapter.”