Early Career Researchers

What is an early career researcher, or 'ECR'?

You might consider yourself to be an ECR if you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student, if you are studying for a PhD or have recently completed (within five years of working full-time or part-time equivalent from your highest degree), or similarly if you are new to this research field.

SSM Membership for the ECRs

SSM Membership for the ECRs

SSM offers a free 2nd year of membership to any early career researcher joining the Society. Valuable benefits of membership include:

  • Become part of a professional organisation and interact with a wide range of people with similar research and policy interests
  • Reduced registration costs for the Annual SSM conference, one-day meetings and workshops
  • Support for early careers researchers through networking, mentoring, and academic opportunities
  • Mailing list announcing  SSM news, events, job opportunities, relevant conferences and training courses
  • Quarterly newsletter consisting of articles on topical issues and events relating to social medicine
  • Membership of the European Public Health Association, with reduced registration costs for the Annual EUPHA Conference and free access to the European Journal of Public Health
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Annual Scientific Meeting ECR workshops

Each year, the ECR Subcommittee arrange for a workshop, specifically relevant to ECRs, to be given at the ASM in September. Topics have included ‘How to publish in leading journals’, ‘Preparing a successful research proposal’ and ‘How to get started with a systematic review’. Please let us know any ideas you may have for future workshops and activities by emailing at ecr.ssm@gmail.com

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The SSM ECR Subcommittee

The ECR Subcommittee was set up in 2009 with the purpose of representing the ECR members of the society. ECRs are the future of SSM and it is important that they have a voice in the Society. The Subcommittee meets regularly to discuss matters relevant to ECRs, keep in contact with ECRs through the dedicated email accounts and ECR survey as well as provide specific services to them (for example, the jobs list and gig trail – see below for more information). The Subcommittee acts on a rolling basis where each member serves a term of three years and new spaces are made vacant each year by departing members. It’s a great opportunity to network with senior academics, peers and colleagues, and to get involved in discussions about the future of the research in this field.

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Network Platform

We currently host a network platform that is aimed to enhance the social and research network for members of the Society for Social Medicine, with a special emphasis on integration and promotion of SSM Early Career Researchers (ECRs). In the current technological age where information is only a simple press of a button away, people connect to each other on a myriad of platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Research Gate, Instagram or Facebook. These networks are powerful not only in bringing connections into an online domain but also in introducing people with similar interests to each other via interest groups and mediated introductions. SSM, as an academic Society, is seeking to harness the power of social networks to create depth and enhance community experience. In the long run, a network platform that is based on research interests of the SSM members can become a foundation for further development and integration of interactive technology in the future. For more information, please contact Janice Atkins.

The Welfare of Early Career Researchers

The challenges facing early careers researchers in the UK and globally have long been recognised. The Society for Social Medicine is addressing this critical issue by releasing a Welfare Statement to several of the National broadsheet newspapers. Read the statement published by Professor Simon Capewell, President for the Society of Social Medicine, on behalf of its members.

In summary, early careers researchers face the following challenges:

  • Unstable careers with short-term contracts
  • Lack of adequate mentoring and support
  • Limited opportunity to develop a research career

We hope that this will provoke and inspire discussion and debate, and lead the way to a positive change in working conditions for early career researchers. If you would like to read the Welfare Statement in full, please visit our ECR Welfare section here.

ECR communications

SSM newsletters

Visit the SSM newsletters page, with featured contributions from the ECR Subcommittee since 2010. If you have any specific material that may be of interest to other ECRs, please contact our ECR Newsletter Editor Kate Best at kate.best@newcastle.ac.uk

Twitter and mailing list

The ECR Subcommittee of the SSM regularly tweets job alerts and other content of interest to ECR members. Follow us @ECR_SSM. If you have a vacancy you would like to advertise to ECRs, please tag us in a tweet, or send your job description to ecr.ssm@gmail.com.

We also send occasional emails to ECR members, with news of upcoming events and opportunities. This includes members-only priority invitations to sign up for our ECR workshops and other events.  If you are not already signed up to the ECR e-list, please email ecr.ssm@gmail.com to be added.

ECR Survey

Early Career Researchers Survey 

We conducted our first SSM ECRs survey during February and March 2015 in order to find out members’ views on a range of ECR issues, as well as to find out more about the members themselves. The survey was 32 questions long; it was anonymous and there were no incentives for taking part. It was open for responses for one month and was advertised by the ECR Subcommittee in our newsletter and on social media. The results are summarised here.  As you can see, there are some interesting findings: many of you feel that you face instability are over-worked and not adequately supported. SSM and ECR Subcommittee will continue to take an interest in your views and we are planning to improve what we offer our ECR members to try to tackle some of the challenges faced. Thank you for all your input and participation.

Gig Trail

We set up the ECR Gig Trail as a way for ECRs to give each other chances to visit and speak at different institutions e.g. by organising a lunchtime seminar where a couple of visiting ECRs can talk about their work. Please sign up if you are interested in organising and/or giving a talk. You can contact any ECR member who has signed up for the ECR Gig Trail based on the topic or related interests. The SSM Committee has kindly agreed to offer us funds to support travel within the UK to the ECRs members of the Society. Once such an event has been arranged, please don’t forget to email us the details so we can promote it within the ECR Community.