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“Overwhelmed at first”: the experience of career development in Early Career Academics

Hollywood, A. ORCID:, McCarthy, D., Spencely, C. and Winstone, N. (2020) “Overwhelmed at first”: the experience of career development in Early Career Academics. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44 (7). pp. 998-1012. ISSN 0309-877X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2019.1636213


The higher education sector is undergoing considerable changes to its working conditions. From regular scrutiny of individual research and teaching quality, audits of individual academic performance, to growing expectations arising from the culture of ‘student experience’, it is widely recognised that higher education is a turbulent sector. Amongst Early Career Academics (ECAs), initial transitions into this sector of work can have considerable consequences for career development and willingness to remain within the higher education profession. Drawing on a mixed-mode survey exploring the experience of UK-based ECAs, we highlight distinct intrapersonal and experiential factors which relate to variations in the perceived potential for career development and wellbeing. The data suggest that it is not just situational factors such as the departmental environment and job security that relate to the ‘imagined futures’ of ECAs; it is also important to gain a deeper understanding of how intrapersonal dimensions, such as an individual’s personality, shape the experience of the early stages of an academic career. Our qualitative data shed further light on the experiences that can influence the job satisfaction of ECAs. The findings are discussed in the context of a growing body of international research on ECAs, and the rapidly changing Higher Education sector in the UK.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:84858
Uncontrolled Keywords:Early career academic, career development, higher education, job satisfaction, stress, well-being
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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