‘Making It’ as a Contract Researcher examines the contemporary experience of research employment in universities from the perspective of a significant yet often invisible group: temporary or contract researchers, who make up a substantial, and ever-growing, proportion of the academic research workforce. A critical, pragmatic and international account of the contemporary research career, this book explores the question of what it means to ‘make it’ as a contract researcher in academia, and how individuals and organisations in higher education might seek to do things differently.
Providing the reader with practical and realistic strategies for improving the experience of being a contract researcher and achieving and sustaining an academic research career, this book guides the reader on a range of topics, including:
- Charging fairly for your work
- Building a publication track record
- Finding the next contract
- Sustaining your network
- Feeling like you belong
- Moving beyond contract research.
Using a combination of current research, interviews and reflective writing, the book is written specifically for and by contract researchers in academia, offering unique and extremely valuable advice for all new and current contract researchers, including PhD students, early career researchers, and any party interested in pursuing a research career in academia.
The ‘Insider Guides to Success in Academia’ offers support and practical advice to doctoral students and early-career researchers. Covering the topics that really matter, but which often get overlooked, this indispensable series provides practical and realistic guidance to address many of the needs and challenges of trying to operate, and remain, in academia.
These neat pocket guides fill specific and significant gaps in current literature. Each book offers insider perspectives on the often implicit rules of the game – the things you need to know but usually aren’t told by institutional postgraduate support, researcher development units, or supervisors – and will address a practical topic that is key to career progression. They are essential reading for doctoral students, early-career researchers, supervisors, mentors, or anyone looking to launch or maintain their career in academia.
Chapter One Situating the Contract Research Career
The partial academic
What is making it?
Introduction to the Research
Some key terms
Who is this book for?
How this book is organised
Chapter 1: Situating the contract research career
Chapter 2: Becoming and being a contract researcher
Chapter 3: The collective work of contract research
Chapter 4: The possible future of research careers
What is work?
The growth of contract research
Who are contract researchers?
Feeling the effects of managerialism
Consequences for researchers
A final word
Chapter Two Becoming and being a Contract Researcher
The multiplicity of making it
Entry into contract research
Progressing as a contract researcher
Developing the academic identity
Being strategic and developing your research story
Building a publication track record
Acquiring in-demand skills
Managing quality research
The hidden work of a contract researcher
Charging fairly for your work
Finding the next contract
Managing periods of under or unemployment
Health, ageing and contract research
Moving beyond contract research
Tenured academic job applications
Moving to non-research positions
A final word
Chapter Three The Collective Work of Contract Research
Collegiality, not competition
Employment on other people’s projects
Quality research: Balancing independence and collegiality
Feeling like you belong
Writing on other people’s projects
Working for free
Questions of authorship
Initiating publications in a team
The collective work of career building
Creating and maintaining your networks
Sustaining your network
Conferences and professional organisations
Networks of contract researchers
Collectivisation among researchers
A final word
Chapter Four The Possible Future of Research Careers
Supporting contract researchers to make it
Group work: Collectivisation among researchers
Supervisory action and ethical leadership
Industrial action: The role of unions and activism
The impact of institutional initiatives
Impacts on universities
A final word