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MRC, NIHR and Wellcome

Support for mid-career researchers

The brief

The Medical Research Council (MRC), National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and Wellcome wanted to better understand the pressures that contribute to poor support for academic trainees and mid-career researchers. They were concerned that agreements to support these researchers were being ignored once funding had been secured. Shift was commissioned to conduct this research with a specific focus on the support received from host institutions, with a view to implementing positive change based on themes of best practice.

The approach

We employed a multi-method approach, which included:

  • Desk research on research career support and development for early-career and mid-career researchers.
  • 10 cognitive interviews.
  • A quantitative survey, which received 229 usable responses.
  • 60 qualitative interviews (40 with mid-career researchers from various roles and 20 with those representing host institutions).
  • A workshop with funders.

The value

We delivered a comprehensive report detailing our findings. The research identified a number of factors that appear to best promote fair access to appropriate support for mid-career researchers. The workshop with key stakeholders enabled the key findings to be reviewed and discussed, with the aim of supporting the development of recommendations to address the identified challenges.