British Academy expands early career researcher network to south west

The ECR Network hub, created by The British Academy and GW4 Alliance, will provide opportunities for humanities and social science researchers

The British Academy has expanded its Early-Career Researcher (ECR) Network to the south-west, with a new hub supported by the GW4 Alliance of universities.

The two-year pilot programme aims to establish an inclusive network of UK-based postdoctoral researchers in humanities and social sciences.

The network, which has been created in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, wants to give ECRs in humanities and social sciences the opportunity for skills development and networking.

In addition to creating more engagement between researchers, the network aims to encourage equality of opportunity within the research community, while providing opportunities researchers may not already have access to.

The south-west branch follows the launch of a first hub in the Midlands, guided by The University of Birmingham. GW4 Alliance, consisting of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, will facilitate events for participants along with five universities in the region – Bath Spa, Bournemouth, Gloucestershire, Plymouth and UWE Bristol.

The Academy has ambitions to work in partnership with institutions in these regions, before rolling out a nationwide network.

The launch of our second regional hub in the south west is a major step forward in the establishment of our national support network for early-career researchers in the humanities and social sciences
John Scott, The British Academy

Professor John Scott, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Plymouth and chair of the advisory board of The British Academy’s ECR Network, said: “The launch of our second regional hub in the south west is a major step forward in the establishment of our national support network for early-career researchers in the humanities and social sciences. 

“We welcome the participation of the regional consortium in helping us to build and enhance research skills and capacities for a vibrant research base.

“This new step brings together the passion, networks, and power of the British Academy, the partner universities, and the dedicated researchers themselves and will ensure that these disciplines will truly shape our future.”

Another hub is planned to be announced during the two-year programme, with details announced in spring 2022.

Humanities and social science researchers at the beginning of their careers are encouraged by organisers to join the ECR network, regardless of their funding or background, including those out of academia, working for independent research organisations or not in employment.

Dr Joanna Jenkinson , GW4 Alliance director, said: “We are delighted that the British Academy has recognised our commitment to supporting ECRs and to creating the research leaders of the future, which is directly relevant to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) R&D People and Culture Strategy.

“This new ECR network further strengthens GW4’s core mission, which is to enable new collaborations and research opportunities across the region that would not be possible within one institution alone.”


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