1st Edition

'Making It' as a Contract Researcher A Pragmatic Look at Precarious Work

    216 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    ‘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?

    Policy context

    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

    Ethical dilemmas

    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

    Nurturing engagement

    Supporting contract researchers to make it

    Individual efforts

    Group work: Collectivisation among researchers

    Supervisory action and ethical leadership

    Industrial action: The role of unions and activism

    Research Associations

    The impact of institutional initiatives

    Impacts on universities

    Government-led reform

    A final word




    Nerida Spina is a senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

    Jess Harris is an associate professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

    Simon Bailey is a research associate at the University of Kent, UK.

    Mhorag Goff is a research associate at the University of Manchester, UK.