Shaping Postdoc Culture was a day-long conference for UK postdocs to come together to encourage development of solutions to the current challenges faced by postdoctoral researchers. By engaging each other, we aim to create an empowered, cohesive and connected group, to drive change and succeed in our valued postdoctoral careers. One key aim of this conference is to produce a discussion paper, informed by the contributions of those in attendance, and discussed in the context of the relevant published literature.
We hosted postdoctoral researchers from various research backgrounds as well as influential stakeholders from Industry, Funding agencies, Policy influencers, Editors, Academics, Researcher Developers, and Career Development professionals, providing an excellent opportunity for networking, information gathering, and ultimately the proposal of solutions.
The themes discussed during the event highlighted primary topics wanting attention, with an aim to generate tangible solutions for implementation by both postdocs and the wider research community. The afternoon session featured several solutions-focused break-out sessions where we will encourage postdocs and HE stakeholders to discuss and propose solutions to the issues discussed during the day. Discussion topics included:
- Postdoctoral Career progression, and postdoctoral talent retention
- Opportunities for postdocs in non-academic sectors: how can we dispel the perceived notion of an 'institutionalised researcher'?
- Equality, diversity, and inclusion in Higher Education, from the postdoc perspective.
- The postdoctoral funding landscape - non-traditional funding or fellowship routes
- Postdoc-specific collaboration with industry
Our aim was to focus on developing solutions to the existing concerns of researchers. The event generated a variety of suggestions that target the issue from various angles, including:
- Better oversight of awards (funders)
- Recognition of postdoc contributions to eg teaching, grant writing (funders/universities)
- Proactive career planning and networking (postdocs)
- Better awareness/use of the Concordat (everyone)
- Better support for managers of postdocs (universities)
We have been overwhelmed by the gratitude and support received from the research community and are taking on board feedback for improvements on the next round. Our next steps will be to collate the outcomes from this event, refine and expand on the ideas generated and publish our findings. Ultimately we aim to shape and improve the culture within which researchers work, for a thriving, productive and mutually beneficial research environment.
Thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a fantastic day! We would very much appreciate your feedback, if you are able to spend five minutes filling out our survey. Postdocs Shaping Culture has only just started, so watch this space.
Sponsors and supporters
We are grateful to the following organisations for their support of this conference: