Download the complete project report here: Where are they now? – A case study of the impact of international travel support for early career Arctic researchers

The project “Where are they now?” will investigate the subsequent career paths of early career researchers (ECRs) that received support and funding from the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) since the start of the most recent IPY (2007-2008) and beyond.

The goal of this project is to assess how IASC support impacted careers and to find ways to further enhance the support and training of ECRs provided by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, the WCRP Climate and Cryosphere Project, and the IASC. The project will also highlight examples of successful careers of ECRs, thus providing a legacy and making an interconnection between the generations.
Practical steps of the project will include:

  • Following up with the ECRs who received funding during and after the most recent IPY (2007-2008) using the IASC database and yearly reports. Finding out whether they stayed in Arctic disciplines, either in academia, policy, education and outreach or management (questionnaire). If they have, what positions are they currently in? If they left the Arctic disciplines, what were the reasons? Did attending international conferences, especially the ones sponsored by IASC, help in their career? Did attending meetings of international organizations like IASC and working together with senior scientists help them to further their research careers?
  • A 4-day data analysis and writing camp in Tromsø, Norway in November 2014 to compile the results of the previously mentioned research and to do a preliminary evaluation of whether IASC support has encouraged ECRs to stay in Arctic disciplines and whether it has advanced their careers. Ways to further enhance the support of ECRs will also be discussed.

This project is one of several contributions to the Third International Conference on Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III). ICARP III seeks to establish priorities for Arctic science for the coming decade. Essential to any long-term research goal, is the preparation and retention of ECRs to ensure that ICARP III research will be continued well into the future. The project “Where are they now?” will contribute to this goal by providing suggestions on how funding can best be used to support and enhance the careers of ECRs in the interdisciplinary field of Arctic science. In particular, these suggestions will focus on the best ways to prepare ECRs for (1) international and interdisciplinary Arctic research and (2) communicating this research to policymakers, people living in the Arctic and the broader global community.

This project will provide analysis of the impacts of prior funding for ECRs and suggestions for polar and cryosphere international organizations on how funds could be best used in the future. This work will be presented in the form of a short peer-reviewed article and a chapter in the ICARP III summary.

2014 Updates from the Where Are They Now? Project

For the first time, the project is investigating the subsequent career paths of early career Arctic researchers that received travel funding from International Arctic Science Committee since the start of the most recent International Polar Year (2007-2008) until 2013. International Arctic Science Committee has provided travel support for 287 early career researchers during this time.

A survey, with 50 questions concerning demographics, meeting, benefits, Arctic research, IASC, and other questions, was sent to each of these researchers and 132 people responded, a 45.9 % response rate. In addition, 1-2 page summaries of their experience of the event where the early career scientists received the funding were analyzed. In these reports they are expected to describe; What they expected to get out of the workshop? What they got out of the workshop? and a description of how the workshop enhanced their research goals?

Preliminary results indicate that 90% of these researchers are still active in Arctic work and qualitative results indicate that travel support was beneficial to both the research and careers of the early career scientists responding. Of the 10% that are no longer working with Arctic issues, 29% stated personal reasons influencing their decision to quit working with Arctic issues. Other reasons were change of topic; related to funding or institutional issues, or that they took whatever job they were able to get. As the biggest challenges in their work with the Arctic issues, they name funding and limited positions. As the most important benefit from the funding they name networking. Quite a few early career researchers mentioned that the networking in the event had resulted in new opportunities and new collaborations.

Plans of the Where Are They Now? Project for 2015 and Beyond

Responses from survey participants provided details on the specific impacts of travel support to various meetings and included suggestions on how funds could be better used in the future. Results will help form new standards for supporting the next generation of Arctic researchers. Results will be written into peer-reviewed paper, which is to be ready and submitted by early 2015 and presented in the ASSW/ICARP III/ISAR symposium in April 2015 in Toyama, Japan.

Points of Contact

Sanna Majaneva (lead contact), University of Helsinki, FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland
Gerlis Fugmann, APECS, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
Christie Logvinova, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610, USA
Maja Lisowska, Jagiellonian University, 31-501 Kraków, Poland
Jenny Baeseman, CLiC, Norwegian Polar Institute, NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway

The project is supported by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, the WCRP Climate and Cryosphere Project, and the International Arctic Science Committee