Researcher Realities - Researcher Career Journeys

Researchers share their career journeys, opportunities and challenges, including experiences of precarity in video recordings from the Researcher Realities launch event in May 2023.

Dr Annie Irvine, Postdoctoral Research Associate, ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health, King’s College London

Dr Annie Irvine is a qualitative researcher with interests in mental health, employment and welfare policy. Annie's 22-year research career includes roles in academic departments and non-academic research organisations, commissioned research for government departments and third-sector organisations, and grant-funded academic research for ESRC and NIHR. Since taking up her first research post in 2001, she has held fixed-term, permanent and freelance contracts, been made redundant twice, and had three years on maternity leave within a five-year period (which had its consequences). She obtained a PhD by Publication in 2015, drawing on her research on the complexities of managing common mental health problems in the workplace.


Dr Cecile Menard, Research Associate, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Cecile Menard is an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in snow modelling. Cecile started her journey in Higher Education as a mature undergraduate student at the age of 28, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2010, worked as a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute and returned to the UK in 2015 as an independent scientist. She has been at the School of Geosciences since 2017 and was seconded to the Institute for Academic Development to investigate precarious employment among researchers.


Dr Andrew Schurer, Chancellor’s Fellow, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Andrew Schurer is a climate scientist who has been working at the University of Edinburgh for over 13 years, with research focusing on disentangling the various causes of past climate change in order to better constrain future projections. He has then been employed on a series of research grants before becoming appointed as a Chancellor’s Fellow in 2019.


Dr Eilidh Garrett, Senior Researcher, University of Edinburgh / Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research.

Dr Eilidh Garrett joined the University of Edinburgh as a senior researcher at the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research during the first week of lockdown, 2020. Prior to that she had spent 30 years as a contract researcher in a number of universities across the UK moving across the disciplinary gaps between history, geography, and population studies.


Researcher Career Journeys, Q&A 


Further Resources

For further researchers’ career journeys, you can explore a blog series curated by Cecile Menard

Researcher Realities: Researchers' Journeys

At Edinburgh, you can join the Long-Term Research Staff Network. Learn more about it here: Menard. Cecile, ‘New long-term research staff network’, IAD4Researchers, University of Edinburgh. Published on 28 June 2021.

New Long-Term Research Staff Network

You can learn more about Edinburgh’s redeployment policy and register here: Menard, Cecile, ‘Redeployment register: you’ve got to be in it to win it’, IAD4Researchers, University of Edinburgh. Published on 23 February 2022.

Redeployment Register: you've got to be in it to win it

Menard, Cecile, ‘What’s in a name or why terms like “ECR” can be alienating’, IAD4Researchers, University of Edinburgh. Published on 4 July 2022.

What's in a name or why terms like 'ECR can be alienating


Research culture uncovered Season 2 Episode 12 The Sisyphus metaphor: researchers in long term temporary contracts

Research Culture Podcast [external link]


Menard CB, Shinton S (2022) The career paths of researchers in long-term employment on short-term contracts: Case study from a UK university. PLoS ONE 17(9): e0274486.

Career Paths Research Paper [external link]