Library Element Report

Reducing the precarity of academic research careers

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 25 May 2021
Last modified on 25 May 2021

Reducing the precarity of academic research careers. OECD SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INDUSTRY POLICY PAPERS. May 2021 No. 113

This report analyses academic research careers, with a focus on the “research precariat”, defined as postdoctoral researchers holding fixed-term positions without permanent or continuous employment prospects. It identifies policies and practices that aim to improve researchers’ well-being, develop more diverse, equitable and inclusive research systems, attract and retain the best talent in academia, and ultimately improve the quality of science.

The report presents a conceptual framework and synthesis of available data and policy information. It draws on a survey of OECD countries that included country notes and interviews with policy officials, funders, representatives of research performing organisations and researchers. It offers recommendations and a set of policy options to improve working conditions and professional development, better link funding to human resource policies, make governance more inclusive, promote equal opportunities and diversity, improve human resource management, promote inter-sectoral and international mobility, and develop the evidence base on research careers.


Table of contents

  • Foreword 
  • Acknowledgements 
  • Executive Summary 
  • Recommendations 
  • Overview of precarity in research careers 
    • Changes in the conduct of research 
    • Changes in the supply and demand for doctorate holders 
    • Changes in research careers 
    • Worsening of working conditions for researchers 
    • Effects of Covid-19 
  • Governance and the role of different actors 
    • Policy environments 
    • Multi-level governance 
  • Policy areas 
  • Framework of analysis 
  • Methodology 
    • Existing data and policy information 
    • Country notes 
    • Policy interviews 
  • Findings from internationally comparable data 
    • Doctorate holders 
    • R&D expenditures, budgets and personnel 
    • Academic staff
    • Survey of Scientific Authors 
    • Data gaps 
  • Findings from national landscape analyses and interviews 
    • Context for precarity 
    • Effects of precarity 
    • Policy initiatives to address precarity 
    • Effectiveness of the policy process to address precarity 
    • Barriers and enablers for effective policy action 
  • Concluding remarks and a policy toolkit 

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