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Today researchers in higher education face great uncertainty. This is especially true for researchers who are at the beginning of their academic careers. Perhaps the biggest uncertainty concerns career paths.

The report Uncertainty – a reality for junior researchers in Sweden, by SULF and the National Junior faculty, shows that junior researchers in Sweden can hold a wide range of positions and titles. We have also looked at the length of respondents’ employment contracts. The length of junior researchers’ employment contracts increases in line with the acquisition of academic qualifications, from a position as a postdoc on a scholarship and then on a salary to a permanently employed researcher or assistant professor.

The report also shows that the proportion of researchers born in Sweden increases in line with the acquisition of academic qualifications, from a position as a postdoc on a scholarship and then on a salary to permanently employed researcher or assistant professor.

The higher a person’s position in the academic hierarchy, the longer the employment contract and the higher the proportion of Swedish-born people in those positions.

The responsibility for forms of employment lies with the higher education institutions, and it is they who must create the conditions necessary for Sweden to be a prominent research nation. In order to improve conditions for researchers and increase the attractiveness of research as a profession, higher education institutions must do the following, for example through their collaboration within the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions:

  • Build a national system for career paths in higher education.
  • Create clear career paths with transparent criteria.
  • Integrate researchers into the institutions’ appointments procedures. Researchers must be teachers.
  • Advertise positions openly and appoint people transparently in accordance with current regulations. 

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