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The aim of this research study was to gain an insight into the diversity of roles, opportunities and support available for early career researchers (ECRs) in the social sciences whether they currently work in the higher education sector or not.

The main objectives of the research were to:

• assess the range of experiences and circumstances of ECRs in the social sciences after completing their PhD;

• identify and assess the type and quality of support provided for ECRs, from a variety of sources, and identify good practice;

• identify the common career trajectories for ECRs in the social sciences and develop an understanding of any disparities between their career aims, expectations and reality; and

• review funding opportunities available to ECRs in the social sciences.

The remainder of this introductory section describes the research design and methodology for the study.

A brief review of evidence from other similar studies follows.

The findings from this study are divided into the succeeding four sections of this report: on the experiences and career trajectories of early career social scientists; on the type and quality of support provided for them; on the funding opportunities available and their impact; and on suggestions for improvement. These findings are then discussed and conclusions drawn. Finally, a number of recommendations are made for the ESRC, other higher education sector bodies and universities.

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