Progression in academia is highly competitive and UKERC is committed to providing its Early Career Researchers, or ‘ECRs’, with development activities that will enhance their careers. We also want to ensure ECRs have a voice within the consortium as part of our wider efforts to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Definition of an ECR

It is important to note that there is no official definition of an ECR used throughout the academic community. It was therefore of primary importance for the consortium to agree on a definition, and determine who we are trying to reach, before creating any targeted opportunities.

In November 2021, UKERC’s first ECR Committee (outlined below) met to discuss this and many other issues facing ECRs. They highlighted that often the academic career path is not linear, everyone’s experience is different and therefore there are many reasons why someone might identify with the term ECR. However, they also recognised that ECRs share many characteristics, notably precarious employment circumstances that are often a barrier to career progression.

Therefore, going forward UKERC will define ECR in two ways depending on the formality of the situation.

  • For informal occasions, such as internal UKERC activities, we will allow people to self-define as ECRs and intend to follow up with them to develop our understanding.
  • For formal occasions, such as applying for UKERC funding like our Whole Systems Networking Fund, we define ECRs as ‘individuals employed to conduct research activities on precarious contracts (e.g. open-ended, fixed term or project-funded) and who have not previously led a project exceeding £100k’. If this does not apply to you, but you still feel you are an ECR, please contact Amber Sawyer.

We chose not to refer to ‘years post-PhD’ as not all researchers have PhDs. We also avoided referring to a specific time frame, as this implies there is a ‘correct’ period within which to progress. Plus, it is not inclusive for those who have taken career breaks.

If you have any questions or comments regarding ECRs at UKERC, please contact Amber Sawyer.

UKERC’s ECR Committee

We want to empower our ECRs and involve them in the design of targeted activities so that the opportunities we offer are both relevant and useful.

Therefore, in November 2021, we created UKERC’s first ECR Committee. This is a group of 10 volunteers who have very kindly offered to share their experiences, highlight activities they would find beneficial and help us to design tailored opportunities that suit the needs and interests of ECRs.

The Committee is chaired by Ahmed Gailani and its members are Asha Fullonton, Fabio Carvalho G Da Silva, Helen Poulter, Jess Britton, Katherine Sugar, Mathieu Blondeel, Oliver Broad, Richard Hanna and Sarah Becker.

Our Engagement Officer Amber is responsible for administration, with oversight from our Operations Manager Kajsa.


We are currently developing targeted opportunities for our ECRs. This webpage is updated regularly so please check back as more details will be announced soon.