The pandemic and changes in early career researchers’ career prospects, research and publishing practices

Hamid R. Jamali, David Nicholas, David Sims, Anthony Watkinson, Eti Herman, Cherifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri, Blanca Rodríguez-Bravo, Marzena Świgoń, Abdullah Abrizah, Jie Xu, Carol Tenopir, Suzie Allard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Introduction

 As part of the Harbnger-2 project, this study aimed to discover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on junior researchers’ work-life, career prospects, research and publishing practices and networking. Methods An online international survey of 800 early career researchers (ECRs) was conducted in 2022. A questionnaire was developed based on three rounds of interviews and distributed using multiple channels including publishers, social media, and direct email to ECRs.

 Results

 The impact of the pandemic on career prospects, morale, job security, productivity, ability to network and collaborate, and quality and speed of peer review has on the whole been more negative than positive. A quarter of ECRs shifted their research focus to pandemic-related topics and half of those who did, benefited largely due to increased productivity and impact. The majority worked remotely/from home and more than two-thirds of those who did so benefitted from it. While virtual or hybrid conferences have been embraced by the majority of ECRs, around a third still preferred face-to-face only conferences. The use of library online platforms, Sci-Hub, ResearchGate, Google Scholar and smartphone to search and access full-text papers increased. ECRs prioritised journals with fast submission procedures for the publishing of their papers and spent more time on increasing the visibility of their research. Fees were a problem for publishing open access. 

Conclusion

 Although, generally, the pandemic negatively impacted many aspects of ECRs’ work-life, certain research areas and individuals benefited from being more appreciated and valued, and, in some cases, resulted in increased resources, better productivity and greater impact. Changes, such as the use of digital technologies and remote working created new opportunities for some ECRs. While continuing work flexibility and hybrid conferences might benefit some ECRs, institutions should also take measures to help those ECRs whose career and productivity have been adversely impacted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281058
Number of pages25
JournalPLoS One
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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