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Postdoc Academy


Research Culture

Research culture describes the environment in which research happens, and includes the norms in behaviours, expectations, attitudes and values of our research communities.

As a signatory of the Researcher Development Concordat, the University has made a commitment to creating a healthy and supportive research culture at Cambridge.

The Action Research on Research Culture project is now investigating how changing the recruitment, development and retention of researchers could improve research culture.


Race Equality Charter

The Race Equality Charter (REC) is a national scheme that provides a framework for higher education institutions to recognise, investigate and challenge barriers to the recruitment, progression and retention of ethnic minority staff and students. 

Members of the Race Equality Charter commit to the five fundamental guiding principles. The University became a member in 2016 and received a bronze award in 2019.

A postdoc representative has been appointed to sit on the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team.

The Postdoc Academy is involved in updating and completing actions around work we do with postdocs, groups and committees.


Athena SWAN

Athena SWAN is a charter to encourage and recognise commitment to gender equality in higher education for all staff and students. 

The University of Cambridge was a founder member of the charter and the first awards in 2006.

The University achieved bronze awards in 2006, 2009 and 2012, and silver awards in 2014 and 2018. 

University departments also apply individually for Athena SWAN awards.


Impacts of COVID Study

In March 2021, the Postdoc Academy was awarded funds to carry out a community study investigating the impacts of COVID-19 on postdocs at Cambridge, and to determine how the University can best respond to the needs which were emerging.

In particular, the study sought to understand how the pandemic’s impacts have differed, and how its after-effects will continue to differ, across groups within our community.

Although the focus groups represented only a small proportion of the postdoc community, some common themes emerged across all groups, including:

  • the importance of having opportunities to be heard, to share experiences with postdocs from similar backgrounds, and to explore issues constructively
  • the importance of having a sense of community, particularly for postdocs who felt isolated away from their families and those with mental ill health
  • the need for more support for international postdocs, particularly around the cost of visas and the lack of recognition for their experience
  • concerns around return to the workplace needing to take into account different experiences during lockdown, and to avoid a return to ‘presenteeism’ and burnout culture
  • perceived variation in the level of support postdocs get from their PIs, with some neurodiverse postdocs feeling concerned about disclosing diagnoses to their PI
  • inherently problematic funding structures and career instability contributing to mental ill health
  • concern about the lack of ongoing counselling support for dealing with the psychological impacts of the pandemic, particularly for postdocs with Long Covid or mental ill health.

The Postdoc Academy secured further funding to follow up this work and held a series of facilitated workshops with colleagues from across the institution, to develop specific actions around the issues raised.