SOAS University of London

Research

Early Career Researchers

  • Who is an Early Career Researcher?

    At SOAS, an ECR is usually defined as someone being within 7 years of their PhD.

    However, there are a number of definitions of this term, three examples are listed below:

    1. Arts & Humanities Research Council: They state that an ECR is an individual who is ‘within eight years of the award of their PhD or equivalent professional training, or an individual who is within six years of their first academic appointment’.
    2. The REF: This defines an Early Career Researcher as someone who holds a contract of employment of 0.2 FTE or greater, and has a primary employment function of undertaking research, or ‘training and research,’ with any HE or other organisation as well as undertaking independent research. This definition can be read in full on page 19 here.
    3. European Research Commision: This states an Early Stage researcher refer to researchers in the first four years (FTE) of their research activity, including the period of research training.

    These definitions are intended simply to provide a broad overview of this group, and there is no one way of defining an Early Career Researcher. We recognise that this may not be a relevant definition for all of those who self-identify as an Early Career Researcher at SOAS.

  • Supporting the development of Early Career Researchers

    SOAS is committed to the training and development of Early Career Researchers. We recognise the central role researchers play in helping to achieve goals, and believe it is our responsibility to support the progress of staff in return.


    In recognition of this commitment, SOAS has held the HR Excellence in Research Award since 2012. The award identifies organisations as providers and supporters of a stimulating and favourable working environment for researchers.


    In light of this award, researchers at SOAS can expect:

    • their rights as a professional will be recognised and enhanced
    • their mobility experience will be valued
    • their work-life balance will be respected
    • their recruitment will follow a transparent process
    • they will join a truly pan-European network consisting of research organisations and researchers.

    An ‘Action Plan’ outlining the plans for further development in the provision of support for Early Career Researchers can be viewed here.

  • Training for Early Career Researchers

    Research Office Events Series: The Research Office offer training events throughout the year, covering topics like the Research Excellence Framework, managing research grants and public engagement. Past slides and resources can be accessed here.

    The Open Academy: This is a series of training events hosted by the Library, which are aimed primarily at Doctoral Candidate, however, they do have relevance for Early Career Researchers. Resources from past sessions can be accessed here.

  • Resources for Early Career Researchers

    We have developed several resources designed to support Early Career Researchers during their time with us.

    The Early Career Researcher Handbook: This is a comprehensive guide for new researchers at SOAS, covering basic HR information for getting settled, to guidance on how to access career development support.  ECR Handbook (pdf; 2mb)  

    Researcher Essentials Sheets: These resources are useful one-page summaries on key topics, e.g. Research Contracts, Open Access, Ethics, Research Data Management and more.

    Researcher Toolkit: This Moodle space hosts a number of useful external resources and contains up to date information for researchers, as well as slides and resources from training events.

    Vitae: An excellent resource providing a range of materials which advise on career development for researchers, as well as listing informative events and sharing opportunities. The Researcher Development Framework is also a highly useful tool for Early Career Researchers.

  • Networking

    Networking is a useful exercise for Early Career Researchers in encouraging peer-to-peer support and learning. This can also allow researchers to access new opportunities, as well as making the time spent at SOAS a more enjoyable and enriching experience.

    • Early Career Researchers are encouraged to attend Department meetings and research seminars, the dates of these are available from individual department websites, or from Department Managers- details of which are also available on web pages.
    • Post Doc Lunches: These are regular networking events specifically for Early Career Researchers, and are hosted by the Library. Lunch is provided, and it is normally the case that speakers addressing specific concerns are invited to attend, there is then time to relax and socialise with colleagues. Early Career Researchers are automatically invited to these events via email.

    More information on this can be accessed via the Handbook ECR Handbook (pdf; 2mb)  .

  • Further Contacts

    If you have any questions regarding the support offered to Early Career Researchers, please get in touch with Serena Yeo, the Staff Learning and Development Manager, by email sy3@soas.ac.uk