Playing and (not?) understanding the game: ECRs and university support

Document Type


Publication details

Orlando, J & Gard, M 2014, 'Playing and (not?) understanding the game: ECRs and university support', International Journal for Researcher Development, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 2-15.

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Peer Reviewed



Purpose – The aging research community and current research accountability frameworks raise concerns about developing future researchers who have the capacity and commitment to undertake and lead quality research in the future. The aim of this paper is to focus on the support that Australian universities currently provide to build the capacity of their ECR staff and how ECRs are experiencing this support.

Design/methodology/approach – Email interviews were used with early career education researchers (ECRs) to ask them how they experienced the research support structures provided by their institutions.

Findings – It was found that the anxiety and frustration some ECRs feel about their research careers may stem from the appropriateness or otherwise of the kinds of immediate goals they are choosing for themselves and, perhaps more important, the extent to which they see themselves working in isolation from their colleagues.

Practical implications – While different kinds of material support, such as reduced teaching loads and access to internal grant funds will always be important, it is argued that more attention needs to be given to realistic goal-setting for ECRs and a more patient, long-term approach to producing high-quality research.

Originality/value – Developing a sustainable research community means building a supportive environment in which ECRs can achieve satisfaction and success. The research presented in this paper seeks to contribute to this goal by trying to learn more about the support ECRs currently experience in Australian universities.

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