Early Career Researchers Changing the Tone of the Debate

The worlds of academia and UK research councils are increasingly interested in interdisciplinary research due to its ability to generate new insights and perspectives on often complex and intricate topics and issues (Phillipson and Lowe, 2006). There is also a body of research to suggest that interdisciplinary research teams that include early career researchers have mutual benefits for the both the ECR and research organisation; the ECRs develop their research and interpersonal skills and the organisation can retain and development new talent (Sobey et al., 2013).

In March 2019 PIN was delighted to welcome back early career researchers (ECRs) old and new to our second ECR workshop in Sheffield. PIN, with the full support of the ESRC  and under the leadership of Professor Leaza McSorley, is committed to developing ECRs interested in cross-cutting themes that affect productivity. Building on the success of our first ECR sandpit in November 2018, we hosted our second two day ECR event to incorporate the expertise shared at the PIN conference and mentoring from a range of experts in the field.

On the first day of the ECR event participants joined the PIN conference and heard fascinating insights on a range of productivity issues from our keynote speakers Professor Sir Paul Collier, Professor Jennifer Rubin, and Murray Sherwin. Lively debate and discussion ensued as our esteemed panel experts shared views on productivity in places, practice and prospects. For an overview of the conference, see our Advancing the Debate blog.

On the second day we heard from Lukas Nüse and Armando García Schmidt from the Inclusive Productivity project at Bertelsmann-stiftung, an organisation whose programmes deal with the challenges that result from globalization, demographic change and the growing diversity of Germany’s population. Lukas shared their approach to inclusive productivity and the Q & A that followed raised what for some was a surprising insight into Germany’s productivity divide between the North and the South, not dissimilar to the issues facing the UK.

This was followed by a bid writing development workshop from Professor Tim Vorley. Tim provided an overview of the PIN open call  along with sharing advice and valuable insights on bid preparation. Having heard from the German and UK productivity research landscape in the morning it was the New Zealand perspective that followed after lunch. Murray Sherwin built on his key note speech delivered at the conference to answer questions and share his views on the pressing issues that merit further research. Full of questions, our ECRs were then mentored by PIN members including Professors Leaza McSorley, Philip McCann and Dr Rob Wapshott, who advised them on the questions that they had about their own research.

We look forward to continuing our support for the network of talented and engaged ECRs that we are seeing emerge with the encouragement of PIN. There will be further opportunities for the ECRs to become part of the PIN network and updates on this will be shared via the mailing list and Twitter.


Phillipson, J. and Lowe, P. (2006) ‘Special Issue Guest Editorial: The Scoping of an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda’, Journal of Agricultural Economics. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-9552.2006.00044.x.

Sobey, A. J. et al. (2013) ‘Incorporation of Early Career Researchers within multidisciplinary research at academic institutions’, Research Evaluation. doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvt004.