November 2014 – Reports – The Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN)

Published in ESRS Newsletter November 2014

Launch of the ESRS Early Career Researcher Network

During the 22nd congress of the ESRS in Tallinn, Estonia, the ESRS Early Career Researcher Network was launched. Over 80 people participated in the launch with discussion regarding the future of this network.

The purpose of the network:

• Opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other researchers in their early careers.

• Stay connected and updated between meetings.

• Voice of early career researchers to be stronger within the ESRS

• Discuss the support early career researchers would like to have from the ESRS, e.g. the type of educational and social programs at future ESRS meetings.

The program for the launch was the following (Sep 19, 2014): 

• Debra J. Skene. Opening remarks (5 minutes).

• Erna Sif Arnardottir. Ideas for the purpose and future of the ESRS Young Researcher Network (5 minutes).

• Roundtable discussions by all attendees (15 minutes).

• A representative from each table will present the ideas from the roundtable discussion to the whole group (30 minutes).

• Closing remarks.

The results of the roundtable discussions were as follows: 

1)    The majority voted that the name of the network should be “the ESRS Early Career Researcher Network” (ESRS ECRN) instead of “the ESRS Young Researcher Network”.

2)    The network is to include all MSc and PhD students as well as postdoctoral researchers or clinicians who obtained their PhD or MDs

3)    Requests for an ECRN Day – a training day with workshops and teaching courses on the first day of the ESRS conference specifically focused on this group. Aim to get industry sponsorship for this day so that it can be free of cost for attendees.

a.    Topics: Both basic and clinical research as well as grant/abstract writing, media interaction, the transition from PhD to Postdoc and from Postdoc to the next level etc.

b.    This day should include student presentations to provide practice of presentation skills (to include more than those chosen to present at the opening ceremony).

c.    Social events for this group early in the conference – for increased networking with peers and the senior researchers who are involved in organizing the ECRN training day. (Free food and wine if possible).

d.    Look at the possibilities of including a career development fair (as per Sleep conference in US, for example) where research groups looking for PhD students/Postdocs advertise their labs and possible projects.

4)    General ESRS conference remarks:

a.    Include a PhD symposium (with prize) in the general program for those who have finished their PhD since the last ESRS conference.

b.    Include more early career researchers in the general conference program and have one early career researcher as co-chair of sessions where ESRS chooses 2 chairs (one senior and one junior).

c.    Price of networking dinner too high for early career researchers.

d.    Include more travel grants for early career researchers if possible.

5)    Advertise network well on homepage/newsletters/all ESRS national sleep societies so all early career researchers know of the network and possibility of joining the ECRN.

6)    Have an online forum for early career scientist discussion on the ESRS website. Everyone can enter their research interests, techniques used, stage in career etc as well as contact information.

7)    New residential training course – based on Marie Curie project but not as exclusive.

8)    Request that a member of the ECRN is a representative on the ESRS board. Should at a minimum have formal discussions with the ESRS board regarding the requests and wishes of the ECRN researchers.

Next steps

9)     Need to advertise for representatives in the executive committee – total of 5 people. Interested candidates should send their 1-page CV to Erna Sif Arnardottir, ernasif@landspitali.is before Dec 31, 2014. The CV should include a paragraph explaining why candidates are interested in joining the executive committee and their potential contribution to the network.

10)  The executive committee together with the ESRS board need to generate bylaws for the network.

11)  Set up a structure for an Early Career Day for the next ESRS meeting.

12)  Create an online forum.

Dr. Erna Sif Arnardottir

Coordinator, Launch of the ESRS Early Career Researchers Network