ANIE Network | New survey to assess challenges facing young scholars
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New survey to assess challenges facing young scholars

What are the unique challenges faced by researchers and academics early in their careers and how can they be better supported? A new study – geared towards early-career scholars in all disciplines in Africa – is set to find out.

The study, launched last week by the Global Young Academy, an international society of young scientists, will investigate the context in which young scientists and scholars work, their experiences with international mobility, and the challenges and motivations that shape their careers. This will generate evidence to inform policy recommendations aimed at improving conditions for young scientists.

A global precursor study indicated that today’s young scientists face a competitive funding environment and long work hours, and spend a large proportion of their workday on tasks that are not research-related, according to a Global State of Young Scientists, or GloSYS, statement.

Southern African champion of the Africa project, University of Cape Town immunologist Dr Anna Coussens, said with the push of many governments to increase the number of PhD graduates, a pipeline for PhDs is generating a new cohort of postdoctoral students.

Support structures

“But the question is whether the support structures exist within institutions for this increasing number of early career scientists, and whether they are staying in academia to teach the next generation of scientists or whether they are moving into positions in government, industry or the private sector,” she told University World News in an email.

“The other major factor we are looking at with the GloSYS Africa project is surrounding mobility. We are interested in the factors which cause young researchers to move both within and into and out of Africa. This is crucial in order to understand the factors which can contribute to maintaining the new cohort of scientists emerging from Africa, in order to have local solutions to local problems.”

According to Abdeslam Badre, GloSYS core team member and North Africa champion for the study, the ultimate aim is to develop evidence-based policy recommendations that highlight the ways in which young scientists can be better supported in their research efforts and career development.

An additional goal of the study is to create a database of comparable data on the state of young scientists and scholars across world regions.

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