Early Career and Research Staff Committee (ECARS)

The College of Social Sciences and the College of Arts and Law have over 100 early career academics and researchers, including early career Lecturers, Research Fellows, Research Associates and Teaching Fellows, who make a major contribution to research and teaching within the Colleges. This page provides information, support, and resources to this community (and beyond), and provides contact details for the CoSS and CAL Early Career and Research Staff (ECARS) committee, who represent ECARS within the College Research Committees and the UoB Early Career Development Academy.

Forthcoming events & funding

Many events are held throughout the year, either organised by the committee or relevant for ECARS. Examples of such events include writing retreats, interdisciplinary research days, information sessions for new staff, funding workshops, and skills workshops. These events are advertised via our School mailing lists.

Meet the Committee

Early career staff who are research-active are represented by the Early Career and Research Staff (ECARS) committee, which consists of early career representatives from each of the Schools within the Colleges.  The committee meets throughout the year to discuss and address issues and areas of concerns for early career staff  who are research-active and present them to the Colleges’ Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee (CoSS and CAL), who deliver the research strategy for the Colleges.  In addition, ECARS committee members sit on their respective School Research and Knowledge Transfer Committee, to address specific issues of concern to ECARS within their particular Schools.

The aims of the ECARS committee are to:

  • Foster a collective identity for early career academics who are research-active across the College of Social Sciences and the College of Arts and Law, and provide a forum for mutual peer support and networking
  • Ensure early career academics and researchers have a voice in decision making within the Colleges, and
  • Address issues and areas of concern for early career academics and researchers within the Colleges, including their specific developmental and training needs.

In addition to representing the views of ECARS in School and College Research and Knowledge Transfer Committees, the ECARS Committee works through the year to hold events and workshops to support early career academics and researchers, and to disseminate news and opportunities relevant to early career staff. To get involved, advertise events, or be added to the mailing list, please send an email to your school representative (or to the ECARS Chair if the School position is vacant).

The current Chair of the ECARS Committee is: Giuditta Fontana, g.fontana@bham.ac.uk

She is supported in this role by the following people:

College of Social Sciences

College of Arts and Law 

  • Law School: Felix Eduardo Torres Penagos, f.torres@bham.ac.uk
  • School of English, Drama and Creative Studies: Jing Huang, j.huang.6@bham.ac.uk
  • School of History and Cultures : Imogen Peck, i.f.m.peck@bham.ac.uk 
  • School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music: Currently recruiting. Please contact G.fontana@bham.ac.uk if you would like to represent the school.
  • School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion: Currently recruiting. Please contact G.fontana@bham.ac.uk  if you would like to represent the school.
  • Dubai Campus: Currently recruiting. Please contact G.fontana@bham.ac.uk  if you would like to represent the school.

Other Committee Contacts 

Awards and grant funding opportunities

A variety of internal schemes are open to early career scholars to fund travel, collaboration, pilot projects and impact-generating activities. 

Moreover, the College Research Support Offices in CoSS and CAL offer support and guidance in applying for external funding opportunities. Support includes finding the best funder for your research, advising on call requirements and guiding you through the various processes, including organising the project budget. They also arrange various events about funding opportunities and grant writing and publicise upcoming deadlines for funding. Below are some examples of the funding opportunities that are available to ECARS. Further information on these schemes can be sought from the College Research Support Offices in CoSS and CAL. Your relevant Office should be your first port of call when applying for research funding.

External schemes which specifically targeted at early career scholars include:

ESRC New Investigators

“The scheme is specifically aimed at supporting those looking to make the transition to an independent researcher through managing their first major research project. The call is open to high-quality candidates from anywhere in the world who have a maximum of four years postdoctoral experience and the support of an eligible UK research organisation”. The ESRC New Investigators grants are for up to five years, with a value range from £100,000 to £300,000. Please note that this particular scheme is subject to internal panel review in CoSS prior to formal submission. Applications must be made in consultation with your Research Support Office.

AHRC Research Grants Scheme 

“The Research Grants Schemes are intended to support well-defined research projects enabling individual researchers to collaborate with, and bring benefits to, other individuals and organisations through the conduct of research.” Awards for Early Career researchers - defined as within eight years of the award of your PhD (counted from the viva date) or equivalent professional training or within six years of your first academic appointment - are available under the scheme with the support of an eligible UK research organisation. The AHRC Research grants are for up to 5 years, with a value range from £50,000 to £250,000. Please note that this scheme does not provide full time buy out.

Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships

The Leverhulme Fellowship is a three-year academic research position (50% match funding of salary and up to £6,000 per annum in research costs) to allow early career academics and researchers to “undertake a significant piece of publishable work”. Open to applicants who have a proven track record of research activity but only those who have not held an established (permanent) academic appointment in the UK. Please note that CoSS and CAL run an internal selection process; please get in touch with your Research Support Office as soon as possible if you plan on applying.

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

“The aim of the British Academy in making these awards is to offer opportunities for outstanding early career researchers to strengthen their experience of research and teaching in a university environment which will develop their curriculum vitae and improve their prospects of obtaining permanent lecturing posts by the end of the Fellowship. The primary emphasis is on completion of a significant piece of publishable research, which will be assisted by full membership of an academic community of established scholars working in similar fields”. Fellowships are for three years. Please note that CoSS and CAL run an internal selection process; please get in touch with your Research Support Office as soon as possible if you plan on applying.

British Academy / Wolfson Fellowships

The British Academy / Wolfson Fellowships provide early career academics with the most valuable commodity – time – by releasing them from some of their administration and teaching duties to pursue their research, along with funding for public engagement and travel. The award duration is three years. These awards are designed to support early-career researchers who show exceptional talent in both research and public engagement, emphasising and demonstrating the importance of academic research and creative thought at a time of rapid political and societal change.” The grant maximum is £130,000 across three years. Please note that CoSS and CAL run an internal selection process; please get in touch with your Research Support Office as soon as possible if you plan on applying.

EU funding

The University has dedicated support within Research & Innovation Services specifically for EU funding (Including support to apply for the ERC Starting Grant. If you would like to explore EU funding opportunities for Early Career Researchers please contact the team at eusupport@contacts.bham.ac.uk 

Training and Skills Development

The University provides a varied programme of training to support the professional development of early career academics and researchers through a number of routes, including:

The ECARS committee also intends to provide and support specific training and development opportunities throughout the year. To get involved, advertise events, suggest events and activities, or be added to the mailing list, please send an email to your School representative or the ECARS Chair.

Other useful information and resources

In this section you can find information about other relevant issues for ECARS (mentorship, HR-related issues, etc). If the information you require is not present, please contact us (ecars@contacts.bham.ac.uk).

Other Early Career committees in the University

If you are interested in the activities of the other committees for early career staff in the University, you can find a link to their websites:

Mentorship

Every new member of staff at UoB is assigned a Mentor who will support them in identifying and working towards their personal goals and priorities for career development. Mentoring is a pastoral activity, separate from progress reviews, personal development, probation or any such issues. It is a space in which you can share any issues or areas of concern you may have about your work, and work with your Mentor to identify practical and constructive ways to address those concerns. Some of the benefits of mentoring are:

For the Mentee:

  • preparation for the future, identification of career advancement opportunities, and heightened career aspirations
  • better time management and increased motivation
  • personal and professional development, including increased job-related wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence, and better work-life balance
  • developed networking skills

For the Mentor:

  • career rejuvenation
  • increased confidence and leadership skills
  • personal fulfilment, particularly satisfaction from seeing junior staff progress

For the institution:

  • increased employee productivity, motivation, retention and commitment
  • increased knowledge of, and support for, other equality initiatives

As an early career academic/researcher you are strongly encouraged to use the mentoring system to support you in your early career stage, but it is not compulsory. If you have not been assigned a Mentor, we would encourage you to flag this up to your Line Manager (including suggestions for who you may like your Mentor to be).

Coaching

People and Organisational Development (POD) offers individual coaching sessions for University staff. Learn more about coaching.

Mental Health

Support for mental health and wellbeing is available through the Wellbeing teams in CoSS and CAL. The UoB Employee Assistance Programme also offers some counselling and therapy sessions, and every school has a Mental Health First Aider.

UoB Staff also have free access to Downdog, a meditation and exercise app.

Induction

The College and University have compiled a host of useful information and links to help ease your induction into the University of Birmingham and your colleges. This includes information regarding local induction from CAL and CoSS and information on central University induction on the Intranet.

Information for researchers

The University has collated information for the Birmingham Researcher, that is, “individuals whose primary responsibility is to conduct research and who are employed for this purpose”. The staff intranet contains information on the systems that are in place to support your research (including funding sources and ethical guidance) as well as advice on managing your career. The Birmingham Academic and The Concordat also highlight what is expected of academics and researchers at the University of Birmingham and how the University is committed to supporting them. 

Probation

It is likely that academic staff, especially teaching staff, will have a probationary period at the beginning of their appointment. For academic teaching staff this is usually three years but can be extended up to five. For academic non-teaching staff probation is normally around one to two years.

Guidance on the probationary period including information on the process and access to the relevant forms are available on the staff intranet. For wider information on HR processes, consult the University’s HR information page.

Performance

The annual Probationary Personal Development Plan (PPDP) guidance and performance development review (PDR) protocol and guidance can be found in the HR section of the CoSS website  as well as on the staff intranet. Guidance is also offered by People and Organisational Development (POD).

Promotion/Pay

The intranet also offers guidance on academic promotions. Useful pages include advice about the process itself and how job roles can be regraded. Also of interest will be the generic role descriptions that are outlined for each Grade and Role. More information will be available through HR .

Fixed-Term Contracts and Redeployment

Information about policies for staff on fixed-term contracts and the redeployment process can be found on the Human Resources page .

Colleges

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