Building a more robust conception of early career researcher experience: what might we be overlooking?

Lynn McAlpine, Kirsi Pyhältö, Montserrat Castelló

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Two decades of research into early career researchers has highlighted the interaction of a constellation of influences in making sense of their experiences. Such research largely draws on either quantitative or qualitative traditions. While both traditions explore similar phenomena, research questions are often framed differently and use different methods. Interestingly, there are few studies in which design integrates quantitative and qualitative processes. In this paper, we describe such a design in which we examined post-PhD researcher agency, social support and intention to remain in or leave the academy. The quantitative analysis highlighted two profiles representing variation in intention to remain based on the interaction of community and supervisory support. The qualitative analysis, while supporting this finding, suggested other influences as well. Examining these other influences in-depth led to a more robust representation of the interplay of personal life and work in relation to intention to remain. We concluded work-related factors are insufficient to explain intention to remain. We suggest future research in this area should explore what other factors may be overlooked in understanding (a) intention to remain and (b) early career researcher experience more broadly. Finally, we propose research designs integrating both quantitative and qualitative processes may prove fruitful in future research, not just in this area but more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • Early career researchers
  • intention to leave or remain
  • personal influences
  • post-PhD researchers
  • research design


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