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During the course of your first 18 months-two years in post, you should begin to develop a clearer understanding of what you want to do next. You may wish to pursue an academic career, or you may be considering alternatives. The University Careers Service provides advice to research staff and has a Careers Adviser (Rachel Bray) with particular responsibility for advising research staff and students.

The Medical Research Council has produced an interactive career framework which you may find helpful: it sets out the short- and long-term possibilities for researchers, and includes routes within and outside academia. Oxford’s academic staffing structures are such that there is no equivalent post to those named in the ‘progression’ column of this framework; the first permanent academic post at Oxford is at the level of Associate Professor. Therefore, direct progression from a postdoctoral position to a permanent academic post is less common at Oxford than at other UK Higher Education Institutions.

More specific activities you might wish to pursue, dependent on whether you wish to pursue an academic or a non-academic career path, include:

Career choices for researchers: activities to pursue
Academic career path Non-academic career path
Are you on track in terms of your publishing record? What other opportunities are there to publish (co-authored) papers?

The Careers Service can support you and are an excellent source of advice. They provide:

  • One-to-one guidance (contact Rachel Bray)
  • Workshops and events
  • A wealth of written resources

See the University's page on career planning for more information and helpful contacts. There is also a wealth of information on the Careers Service's Research Staff Options pages. 

Could you present a paper at a conference? Is there funding available to support this?  You may wish to speak to others. See 'What have past researchers done' on the Careers Services pages for more advice. 
Do you need to gain teaching experience? How do you access opportunities in Oxford to do this (via your department / the colleges)? Once you have begun to establish potential next steps for your career, explore whether there is any training that might support your development. 

Can you act as Co-Investigator on a grant application? 

Is there any training you can or should attend to support your development? 

  • The Division runs an extensive skills training programme with a list of all courses available here
  • The University's People and Organisational Development unit runs professional and personal development courses, including some specific to researchers (e.g. 'So you want to be a PI?')
  • You may need training specific to your subject area, and should discuss this as part of your annual PDR. 

Could you apply for funding to support your research and help you progress your career? The Division provides information on schemes open to postdocs

Consider whether it would be helpful for you to sign up to the Springboard Programme (for women) or the Navigator Programme (for men). These can be a good fora for exploring the types of work that suit you, and can be helpful to those facing change. 

At the time of writing, there are changes to apprenticeships which could potentially be of interest to research staff (whether considering a non-academic or an academic career pathway). Contact athena-swan@medsci.ox.ac.uk for further information. 

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