The Challenges Faced by Early Career Researchers

At Wiley’s 2019 North American Editor Symposium, almost 50 of our academic journal editors came together at the Wiley headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey, to discuss their roles as editors in supporting and promoting diversity and inclusivity in academic publishing. One cohort in particular, the Early Career Researcher (ECR), was a focus of both days of the Symposium. The ECR, defined as the portion of the research community that is just beginning to establish themselves as independent researchers, include researchers who are in their final year as PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and assistant through associate professors. Engaging the next generation of researchers is essential to a journal’s success and sustainability and there are unique challenges and needs specific to this group. To facilitate open discussion on ECR engagement, Wiley hosted a roundtable session where we invited around 20 early career researchers representing several local research institutions and a diverse range of disciplines and career stages, to share their perspectives and experiences of academic publishing with our editors. 

During the roundtable session, editors listened attentively to our invited ECRs and together with them, discussed how editors can better serve their needs via engagement through their journals. Prominent themes emerged, including:

  • The challenge of getting published as an ECR due to uncertainty around knowing not only where to publish, but also when a study is worthy of publication.
  • The lack of clarity around editorial policies, including average expected peer review times, and appropriate ways to approach a journal or editor with questions about submission.
  • How to handle and respond to peer reviews, as well as the difficulty in becoming a peer reviewer or getting proper attribution for the time and effort spent on the process when they do get the opportunity.
  • ECRs also expressed interest in opportunities to influence editorial policy and journal development as junior editors and/or board members.

Drawing from themes discussed in the Early Career Researcher (ECR) roundtable discussion, an “Engaging Early Career Researchers” workshop was held on Day 2 of the Symposium. In this workshop, our editors had an opportunity to discuss in greater detail strategies for ECR engagement that could address the needs and challenges discussed the previous day. Strategies focused on approaches that were beneficial to both the journal and ECRs alike and included innovation around new article types and approaches to peer review as well as different mentorship and training initiatives that could be implemented by a journal. You can view slides from the discussion on the symposium resource site.

About the Author

Senior Editor & Editor, Wiley

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