Figure 1: Countries studied by the GloSYS research project (blue: precursor study; yellow: ASEAN regional study; red: Africa regional study; orange: LAC regional study).

 

Project outline

The ‘Global State of Young Scientists’ (GloSYS) working group leads and guides empirical research projects investigating the context in which early-career researchers (ECR) today work, and the challenges and motivations that shape their career trajectories. In this context, ECR are defined as postgraduate researchers who have earned their PhD or an equivalent advanced research qualification up to ten years ago and who are working in higher education, private or public research organizations, business enterprise or other sectors where research is conducted (ASEAN publication 2017, p. 30). Among particular themes of interest are young scientists’ motivations to enter research, support schemes, access to mentoring, scientific productivity  and challenges faced as well as funding, mobility, and gender inequities within the higher education and research environment.

The research project applies an internationally comparative perspective by studying countries on four continents in regional clusters (Figure 1). The project consists of four sequential phases (Figure 2): A precursor study served to obtain an encompassing picture of the state of young scientists worldwide. Three regional studies followed: The ASEAN and Africa regional studies are already completed, the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) regional study is to be conducted until 2023. The research projects’ results will be integrated, allowing a groundbreaking comparative perspective on ECR worldwide.

Figure 2: Sequence of studies conducted within the GloSYS research project. 

 

Background

It is widely acknowledged that research and higher education correlate positively with individual as well as overall social and economic development. ECR provide a nation’s intellectual capital and constitute the scientific leaders of tomorrow, while being embedded in an increasingly international and competitive work environment. A growing body of scholarly literature describes international trends among young academics in North America, Western Europe and countries in Oceania (e.g., Akerlind 2005; Nerad & Tryzna 2008). Although developing countries have proven to catch up in the past decades, i. e. in terms of innovation in science and number of scientific publications, ECR in developing (i. e. Global South) countries are still understudied and -theorized.

 

Methods

In order to investigate the state of young scientists worldwide, the research draws upon two main types of data: Statistical data (censuses, labour force surveys) providing basic information about the research subjects as well as empirical data collected in the research process. The latter entails an mixed-methods approach with first an online questionnaire and second qualitative semi-structured interviews in order to explain the questionnaire’s outcome. The quantitative questionnaire entails a broad range of topics such as motivation, decision-making processes, employment situations, funding, working conditions, international mobility, productivity, collaboration, support schemes, and demographic information.

 

Outcome

We actively engage with policy makers and other social actors to disseminate our findings and recommendations. Aiming at identifying global circumstances and developments of ECR, evidence-based policy recommendations elaborate the ways in which young scientists can be better supported in their research efforts and career development.

 

Publications

Geffers, J., Beaudry, C., Yang, H.C., Huang, F., Phanraksa, O., Dominik, M., Lin, Y.C., Huang, M.C., Komai, S., Lorimer, K. and Piyawattanametha, W., Saengchantr, P., Saleh, H., Tagg, B. and Veerakumarasivam, A. (2016). The Global State of Young Scientists (GloSYS9 in ASEAN. Creativity and Innovation of Young Scientists in ASEAN.

Friesenhahn, I., & Beaudry, C. (2014). The Global State of Young Scientists. Project Report and Recommendations.