The SDRC aim to be here for all dementia researchers based in Scotland. Of course, supporting ECRs is a key part of this, and we want to do all we can to nurture emerging talent and help develop the future leaders in dementia and brain health research. As was part of our strategic plan, our work to support ECRs has increased in the past 12 months, however the way we have delivered this support has certainly had to be adapted!

You may have seen the work the SDRC are doing to support ECRs so far. We wanted to share this blog to make you aware, if you are not already, the supports that exist for ECRs with the SDRC. Read on to see the work we have done, what we have delivered and our plans for the coming weeks and months.  

Work over the past year

In early 2020, as part of a commitment to support ECR career development, the SDRC Executive Committee planned to host a series of events with the aim of providing both practical advice and networking opportunities for ECRs. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we organised a dedicated writing workshop which was due to follow the SDRC Annual Conference. However, once these in-person events were no longer possible, we wanted to look at different and more creative ways in which we could still fulfil our commitment to ECRs. To do this most effectively, we decided the best approach would be to ask ECRs directly what the SDRC could do to best help them through this difficult time. We ran two surveys, one in March 2020 and a second in August. From this feedback, SDRC Executive directed their activity in a variety of ways including lobbying the Scottish Government and funders and we also created a range of support resources. While these were created to help ECRs through COVID, we will maintain many of these beyond the pandemic. Resources include:

  • The ECR Resource Fund, supported by Brain Health Scotland, which provided small grants up to £2500 to each ECR to help mitigate the impact that Covid had on their research or career. This fund is currently paused but we are always looking at opportunities to financially support ECRs. We will always let members know of new funding opportunities, so make sure you join the SDRC if you haven’t already to be the first to find out.
  • In addition to SDRC funding, we also have a dedicated page on the SDRC website where we post external funding and career opportunities.
  • Our mentorship which ran in the summer last year. Feedback is that both mentors and mentees found this programme valuable and we will be relaunching soon. You can register your interest and we will notify you when it launches again.
  • The webinar series, which is still ongoing, is open to all, but is focussed in providing ECRs with knowledge of specific dementia research topics, or advice to help in your career.
  • We are always happy to promote members’ ongoing research and study recruitment. If you are recruiting research participants, please let us know and we can help promote this.
  • The SDRC ECR blogs provide a wonderful opportunity to promote your work to our members and social media followers. Get in touch if you would like to submit a guest blog for the SDRC website.

Future Plans to support ECRs

We are pleased with what we have done so far and are delighted that feedback from ECRs on the SDRC support has been overwhelmingly positive. However, we always want to do more. We have a lot more activity planned, which we will launch soon. Some of our next support resources include:

  • Publishing members’ scientific publications. We will create a dedicated space on the SDRC website which will signpost visitors to publications by our members. This will not only help promote and celebrate the success of our researchers but help us get to know more about what our member’s research outputs are and what they are publishing. We believe this resource has great potential which will allow networking and creating opportunities for collaboration.
  • We will launch the Ambassador Programme, which will support ECRs in attending events and conferences as soon as in-person events are back up and running
  • We are fortunate to have a rich, diverse membership. Look out for an upcoming ECR Survey to identify who our ECR members are. This will help us offer a more bespoke experience to our ECR community and target community building and networking opportunities.

The work we are describing above does not include the activities which will be guided by our brand new SDRC ECR Subgroup. This group, led by ECRs and chaired by Dr Louis Dwomoh from the University of Glasgow, has held a number of meetings, and have priorities already established. Stay tuned for a blog next week which will formally launch the group, let you know what they are up to. We will also tell you how to get involved if you are not already.

We believe our ECR activity is very exciting and hope you all agree. These resources exist for our members, no matter how long you have been involved with the SDRC. We are open to all, and any ECR within the field of dementia and brain health research are welcome to benefit from these resources. If you are not an SDRC member, you can sign up for free today. Also make sure you follow us on Twitter as well for our latest updates.

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