There is a paucity of studies investigating how early career academics (ECAs) form attitudes towards aspects of their work and gain skills in research, teaching and service. This is especially the case with respect to research. A review of the pertinent literature revealed the prominence of a notion of research self-efficacy (or confidence) and how it was aligned with the other issues distilled from the literature. Employing a qualitative approach, the author of the study sought to develop a better understanding of how ECAs generate research confidence. Interview data were analysed using a process drawing together analytic induction and constant comparison methods. Six themes emerged from this analysis, namely, graduate student research experience, priorities, isolation, researcher identity, mentorship and a vote of confidence. These themes are discussed in detail and the implications of the results for university managers and lecturers are then considered.