Early career researchers

Our aim is to support the development of all research staff and to nurture our Early Career Researchers (ECRs), and existing staff who are able to initiate (or re-establish) a research career.

It is vitally important that we encourage, recognise and reward research talent in order to become a location of choice for staff at all career stages.

We support and develop our research-active staff through the Research and Innovation Allowance (RIA) allowing us to help build and plan their careers. We provide a number of professional development sessions aimed at ECRs.

ECR Definition

There is no one single definition of an Early Career Researcher, however the UK Research Councils and the Research Excellence Framework suggest an ECR is determined on the length of time since the indvididual completed their PhD, e.g.:

  • Those with a doctorate who had their doctoral viva not more than 5 years from the application closing date - Leverhulme.
  • A maximum of four years’ academic research experience following the completion of their PhD, or be of equivalent professional standing - AHRC.

At De Montfort University we understand these defintions offer a perspective of who falls into the official category of an ECR, but we believe these definitions are too rigid and fail to encaspsulate our diverse research and academic community.  We have a wide range of researchers from post-doctoral researchers to senior lecturers who are undertaking the first stages of their research careers.  Therefore, we encourage our researchers to use a self defining definition of who is a an ECR.   

Further definitions

REF definition:

“For the purposes of the REF an individual is deemed to have started their research career from the point at which they held a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, which included a primary employment function of undertaking ‘research’ or ‘teaching and research’, with any HE or other organisation, whether in the UK or overseas, and they undertook independent research, leading or acting as principal investigator or equivalent on a research grant or significant piece of research work.  Individuals qualify as early career researchers if both of these criteria were satisfied for the first time on or after 1 August 2009, even if one of these criteria had been satisfied prior to 1 August 2009".

Source: www.ref.ac.uk

European Research Commision states:

“A distinction is made between Early-Stage Researcher and Experienced Researchers: 

The term Early-Stage Researcher refers to researchers in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research activity, including the period of research training. 

Experienced Researchers are defined as researchers having at least four years of research experience (full-time equivalent) since gaining a university diploma giving them access to doctoral studies, in the country in which the degree/diploma was obtained or researchers already in possession of a doctoral degree, regardless of the time taken to acquire it.”

Source: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/


If you wish to discuss whether you may be an ECR, please contact Lucy Gregson-Green.