REF 2021: Update for ECRs

by Charlotte Mathieson, Lecturer in English Literature, University of Surrey

(This post first appeared on Charlotte Mathieson’s blog on November 21, 2017.)

This post provides an update to my previous blog post on “REF 2021 and ECRs: the current situation” in which I outlined the key decisions and remaining areas of uncertainty (mostly the latter) surrounding the next Research Excellence Framework.

Today, quite a few of those uncertainties have been clarified by the publication of “Decisions on Staff and Outputs“. I will soon update my earlier post to reflect this latest document (and offer a few more interpretations of the ECR implications), but in the meantime here is a brief summary of the key points of relevance for ECRs that have been announced today:

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Academic Administration for ECAs: From Surviving to Thriving!

by David Hitchcock, Senior Lecturer in History, Canterbury Christ Church University



This is how I imagine the reaction of most academics to the labours of organising and administering things. The third rail of intellectual life, administration is thought to kill the teaching and research of those who touch it. Starting from our days in PhD programmes we absorb an understanding of academic administration as a series of things that full-time staff do reluctantly, in rotas, via meetings and using terribly designed spreadsheets (this last one is definitely true). When the PhD ends we enter the realm of the early career academic, where precarity, uncertainty, job applications, and adjunct teaching posts combine with the occasionally better outcome (say, a postdoctoral fellowship) to produce the conditions in which we must publish and hopefully get hired full-time.

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An Anxious Mind

by Nadine Muller, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University

(This post first appeared on Nadine Muller’s blog on October 2, 2012.)

We all worry. Some occasionally, some more often than others, some rarely. Being a worrier, or an anxious person, is not necessarily a problem. It becomes an issue, however, when you find yourself unable to switch off, feel content, or focus; when your head is permanently filled not only with thoughts but with worries about what you need to do next and what you have (not yet) done, and what the consequences of this are. From the moment you wake up to the second you fall asleep, your head spins with daunting fragments of task lists, personal worries, and the imagining of bad things that have not happened, and are not likely to. The result of this state of mind can vary between at least two behaviors; some people experience both in turn, some only encounter one throughout their lives.

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What is to be done? Seven practical steps for historians

by Brodie Waddell, Lecturer in Early Modern History, Birkbeck, University of London

(This post first appeared on the Many-Headed Monster on September 21, 2015.)

I’m very grateful to all of you who’ve already offered your thoughts on how we can improve the history profession. I agree with most of the comments on my previous posts on academic employment and practical responses – in fact some of the suggestions below are borrowed from those comments. However, I promised that I would offer my own tuppence so here I’ll try to set out some steps that we can take individually or collectively. Most of these are quite minor, but hopefully they are a good start. They aren’t in order of priority, but the first four are generally about gathering and publishing information and the rest are about more direct action.

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What is #ECASurvival?

by Derek Dunne, Lecturer in English Literature, Cardiff University

If you had told me on the day of my viva in 2012 that it would be over 5 years before I had a permanent job, I might have just walked out the door and not looked back. Lucky for me that wasn’t the case, but plenty of us struggle post-PhD with how to get from ‘Dr.’ to ‘Dr.’ who can afford to pay rent, or ‘Dr.’ who knows where they’ll be living in 6 months’ time.

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