New PIs: We need your help!

by Sophie Acton

How did you go about find a host institution for your fellowship application?

How did you choose a department when applying for a lectureship?

How well supported are you in your new position as a principle investigator?

Personally, I didn’t ‘negotiate’ particularly, and when I was applying (in 2014), I’m not sure I would have even known what to ask for if I had. There is a lot of trust involved, and we hold a lot of assumptions about what a new group leader position includes. Assumptions that are not always correct, or are based on the set ups of bigger senior labs which we worked in as postdocs.

Alison Twelvetrees, Chris Toseland and myself have designed a survey for all new group leaders, principle investigators, new lecturers to try and understand the variation in how we were recruited, how we are supported, and what criteria we are judged against as get established in our independent careers. If you started your lab in the UK system within the last 6 years then we would like to hear your story. Any field, life sciences, social sciences, physics and engineering, we’d like to hear from you. Research fellows, lecturers, clinical scientists, working in universities, research institutes, we’d like to hear from you. Responses will be kept anonymous, we will only share summary data in a final report, and there’s plenty of space for comments, to tell us how academic life is working out for you.

We have been in touch with major funders in the UK such as Cancer Research UK, the MRC, Wellcome Trust, and organisations such as eLIFE. All of these organisations want to understand how to support us best and are very interested in the data collected. We hope to use the data from this survey to form the basis of policy recommendations for the recruitment and mentoring of new PIs, which can be adopted by UK universities going forward. So don’t be shy to tell us your starting salary, or that your department gave you 2 PhD students to get started; this is exactly what we are trying to compare across the UK, and being open about this will make a fairer system for us all in the future.

Please fill out the survey here.

(right to left) Chris Toseland, Sophie Acton, Alison Twelvetrees

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