How Can Early Career Researchers Be More Involved With Scientific Societies

Early career researchers (ECRs) are an important part of the scientific community. They are at the starting of their career and may be haven’t got much of experience yet. However, they also mark the future of the scientific community. They are the ones who would bring in the next set of discoveries into the world; in fact, they are the ones who would be the next possible Nobel laureates. These same early career researchers would also be the research advisors of the next batch of early career researchers. But now, at present, they might be under the illusion of not making significant contribution to the academic community. Let us find out how we can change it.

Early Career Researchers: Are They Not Significant Enough?

The majority of scientific research is carried out by graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty who do not yet have tenure. These researchers comprise the early career researchers. Although this group is a powerhouse of new talent, skills, and ideas, they don’t get to have much say in the crucial processes. However, decisions at universities, funding agencies, publishers, and professional societies tend to be taken by senior researchers. This means that early-career researchers are given little or no say in decisions that will shape the future of research. This approach can even make them feel left out and insignificant.

Why Scientific Societies are the Best for Early Career Researchers?

Scientific societies provide scientists with the opportunity to network, to contribute to scientific meetings and conferences, and to participate in professional development activities, irrespective of their career stages. Following are a few reasons as to why these organizations are particularly well-positioned to include early-career researchers (ECRs) in their working:
• Societies are often involved in policy discussions with funders and government agencies.
• They provide opportunities for researchers to interact across career stages, institutions and countries.
• Societies are eager to recruit and retain the next generation of leaders in their field.
• Some societies, which have already include ECRs in their leadership, have shown that these positions not only elevate the careers of ECRs but also help societies retain members who will eventually become leaders in their respective fields.

Benefits for Scientific Societies

Following are a few benefits that the scientific societies derive by recruiting the early career researchers in the leadership positions:
• Promote interaction between junior and senior scientists
• Increase the outreach of the societies
• Provide a new perspective on the ECR-related issues
• Increase organizational productivity

Benefits to Early Career Researchers (ECRs)

Following are few benefits that early career researchers (ECRs) may derive from these leadership positions in the scientific societies:
• Gain leadership experience
• Gain knowledge about working and policy making within the societies
Develop networks which might prove helpful in the future
• Gain experience in reviewing grants and manuscripts

How to Involve ECRs in the Scientific Societies?

Several scientific societies aren’t aware as to how to include into their functioning. Here are a few tips as to how this can be done:
• ECRs need to be included into committees and trained about their roles.
• Other senior members of the committee have to be the mentors for these ECRs.
• The ECRs need to be involved in a range of activities.
• In case, being part of the board takes away their time of research, the same needs to be addressed and tackled well.
Equal responsibilities as that of other board members must be given to the ECRs.
• Take regular feedbacks from the ECRs regarding their role and experience.
To start with, these could be a few tiny steps towards building an academic community where more and more of ECRs would be seen playing active roles.

What do you think about involving early career researchers more into functioning of scientific societies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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