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Swiss funder to revise support for early-career researchers

Image: Hinterhaus Productions, via Getty Images

National research funder invites partners to discuss matters including how to improve working conditions

The Swiss National Science Foundation has said it is planning to revise its support for early-career researchers.

In a statement released on 8 July, the SNSF announced that it was reviewing its support, to better tackle the problems that researchers face early in their careers.

It has invited its institutional partners, including higher education institutions and researcher associations, to nominate people for discussions on what it described as a “key issue for the future of research”.

The funder has identified four key themes around the main problems associated with the academic careers it supports. These are: reconciling the importance of international mobility with its negative consequences; supporting careers outside academia or that take unusual paths; matching researcher evaluation to career development; and the importance of attractive working conditions.

Falling short

Katrin Milzow, head of research at the SNSF, said: “Current funding mechanisms seem to fall short of addressing the evolving needs of the 21st century, including more flexibility and permeability of careers across sectors of activity.

“Numerous studies and initiatives, in Switzerland and elsewhere, show that dependency and working conditions can also hinder the progress of early-career scientists.

“With this in mind, the SNSF would like to work with its partners on a fundamental review of the issue of career funding.”

The SNSF said that reassessing its strategy on this was a “priority concern”, adding that it had been working to develop innovative approaches to support early-career researchers since last summer.

Its first talks with other stakeholders on the issue are due to take place in the autumn.