the promise of great ideas

Sloan Foundation Technology Program Newsletter May 2021

It’s now been well over a year since we started to spend most of our working time in some combination of Zoom and Slack, and while the Technology team is thrilled to all be vaccinated and to resume some in-person interaction, we’ve been reflecting on what to take forward from this digitally-mediated remote experience.

Last spring, we made a set of grants under our Exploratory program that were fundamentally reactive to the pivot from physical to virtual, supporting Hack Weeks, field courses, conferences, and pen source contexts. We also seized the opportunity to extend the Harbingers longitudinal study to understand pandemic-related impacts on early career researcher practices around the world…

10 years

It's our birthday!


talent implosion

…in the pandemic-incurred new realities of the research undertaking… the current cohort of neophyte researchers might even turn out to be a lost generation, with an ensuing danger of talent implosion

Herman, Eti; Nicholas, David; Watkinson, Anthony; Rodríguez-Bravo, Blanca; Abrizah, Abdullah; Boukacem- Zeghmouri, Chérifa; Jamali, Hamid R.; Sims, David; Allard, Suzie; Tenopir, Carol; Xu, Jie; Świgoń, Marzena; Serbina, Galina; Cannon, Leah Parke (2021). “The impact of the pandemic on early career researchers: what we already know from the internationally published literature”. Profesional de la información, v. 30, n. 2, e300208.

taking the pulse

With the first round of study interviews for Harbingers-2 complete we present our first impressions:

A resilient community. ECRs show less negativity than we might have supposed, but this could be because they are strivers, doing everything they can to adapt and succeed. Most US ECRs reported no substantive changes were expected to their research career due to the pandemic. 'Delay, but not change' seems to be a recurring theme; they felt relatively secure in their current situation —maybe helped by the 1-year extension of tenure requirements by universities in US and France.


Harbingers-2, three months in to a 24 month study. We find that the pandemic has not created brand-new challenges for the scholarly communication system; it has amplified and accelerated problems that have long been lurking. The ECRs we are interviewing remotely are cognisant of this and telling us about their scholarly concerns, beliefs and behaviours. Their interest and attention on the ways and means of academic communication has intensified since our original Harbingers study.


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Impact and legacy

David Nicholas discusses the challenges facing early career researchers as a result of the pandemic and outlines how a new longitudinal, qualitative study involving 160 Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from 8 countries will seek to understand how they fare over the next two years. LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog

CIBER news — January–December 2020

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