Challenges that Early Career Researchers Face in Academic Research and Publishing

Pre- and post-COVID-19 perspectives


  • Jaime A Teixeira da Silva Independent



anxiety, career development, citations, integrity, Matthew Effect, metrics, postdoctoral research, rewards, seniority, status, stress


the academic community. Yet, in some respects, they occupy a selectively inferior niche due to structural constraints, as well as personal and professional limitations. ECRs, who are at an initial stage of their careers, face multiple challenges in research and publishing due to a relative lack of experience. These may make them vulnerable to abuse and cause stress and anxiety. Those challenges may have been amplified in the COVID-19 era. ECRs' efforts may unfairly boost the reputation of their mentors and/or supervisors (Matthew Effect), so greater credit equity is needed in research and publishing. This opinion paper provides a broad appreciation of the struggles that ECRs face in research and publishing. This paper also attempts to identify extraneous factors that might make ECRs professionally more vulnerable in the COVID-19 era than their established seniors. ECRs may find it difficult to establish a unique career path that embraces creativity and accommodates their personal or professional desires. This is because they may encounter a rigid research and publishing environment that is dominated by a structurally determined status quo. The role of ECRs' supervisors is essential in guiding ECRs in a scholarly volatile environment, allowing them to adapt to it. ECRs also need to be conscientious of the constantly evolving research and publishing landscape, the importance of open science and reproducibility, and the risks posed by spam and predatory publishing. Flexibility, sensitivity, creativity, adaptability, courage, good observational skills, and a focus on research and publishing integrity are key aspects that will hold ECRs in good stead on their scientific career path in a post-COVID-19 era.


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