Early career researchers evaluation 2017: The health of the research base


In 2017, NERC undertook an evaluation of its support for early career researchers (ECRs). This evaluation was the first of its kind to be undertaken by NERC to gain a better understanding of the challenges and issues facing ECRs during this crucial period for their career development.

The outcomes of this evaluation will inform future NERC strategy and activities to ensure they are effective at maintaining a healthy research base for the environmental sciences, and ensuring the training and opportunities available for NERC ECRs are appropriate for facilitating success in the broad range of careers they enter.

The evidence informing this evaluation was collected through an online survey - developed by market research specialists DJS Research Ltd, NERC and its advisory boards. The audience for this survey was primarily ECRs within NERC's remit but it also provided the opportunity for employers of ECRs and other key stakeholders to provide feedback. This survey was complemented by case study interviews to provide further information concerning the insights arising from the survey and explore in greater depth the challenges facing ECRs.

NERC would like to thank all those who took the time to submit survey responses for their valuable contribution to the completion of this exercise.

The information collected through this survey was explored by NERC, DJS Research Ltd and a working group comprising members of NERC Science Board and the Training Advisory Board, before DJS Research Ltd produced an independent summary report highlighting the key findings of this evaluation and identifying recommendations to NERC concerning its provision of support for ECRs. This report was discussed by NERC and senior members of its community at a stakeholder workshop held in February 2018 for the purpose of informing its corporate response and identifying appropriate future actions and activities.

Evaluation resources

The independent ECR evaluation report prepared by DJS Research Ltd, a summary of discussions from the stakeholder workshop, and the NERC management response are available below.

ECR evaluation report (PDF, 2.1MB)

ECR evaluation workshop report (PDF, 196KB)

ECR evaluation management response (PDF, 137KB)

Evaluation outcomes

NERC is pleased to receive the recommendations made in the ECR evaluation report. These recommendations will be used to inform decision-making regarding future activity and strategy concerning support for ECR. NERC reserves the right to implement recommendations as appropriate and as advised by its advisory and governance structures.

Responses to the individual recommendations are included within the NERC management response document but the evaluation as a whole did identify the need for NERC to put in place an organisational strategy to inform its support for ECRs. The strategy will be developed as a matter of priority, as its content will guide the delivery of all actions and activities relevant to this area. It will be informed by the outcomes of this evaluation, as well as existing best practice, and will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders relevant to this area to ensure that it is representative and inclusive of the diversity of issues relevant to ECRs. It will define not only NERC's aims and objectives for its support of ECRs but also the core mechanisms for ensuring NERC support achieves these goals.


If you have any questions concerning the NERC ECR evaluation, please contact the NERC Talent & Skills team at .