ICoRSA’s Global Approach to Research Empowerment

Research is the driving force behind innovation, tackling societal challenges, and nurturing economic growth. In Ireland, as in many other parts of the world, the research sector faces both opportunities and obstacles. The International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICoRSA) stands as a crucial player in this dynamic landscape, advocating for researchers’ interests and championing responsible research practices on a global scale.

One of the ICORSA activities is mapping global challenges, and research precarity is our yearly survey oriented toward gathering data from our community. In 2023, we asked our community several questions about their current contracts and level of precarity and the results indicated that research precarity is widely spread and affects all levels of researchers facing short-term contracts with no assurance of prolongation of these contracts. The survey included respondents from 16 countries across the globe from the United States of America, across Europe and Africa with 59% of respondents being female, and R2 and R3 levels of researchers.  

In the context of precarity, only 35% declared their contracts as permanent, while the rest of respondents either declared fixed term, short term, or other type of fixed contract, indicating that in only 20% of cases, respondents were sure that their contract would be renewed. Additionally, less than 40% of the respondents that answered YES to the contract being renewed, marked that their it would be with the progression to the next level. Regardless of such a grim picture, in 70% of cases, researchers said they would stay in the field. Less than 10% were sure they would not stay in research. The rest were unsure.

The main reasons for the instability of their positions listed by the researchers were lack of funding or termination of their position (>50% of cases). In the majority of cases (more than 50%), respondents would consider a dual position (teaching and research), as well as having a hybrid career between industry and research/academia.Survey respondents were willing to be contacted annually, allowing ICoRSA to track their position and career progression over the years, as well as the level of precarity they face. If you are interested in participating in the annual survey, please contact admin@icorsa.org and office@icorsa.org.