REDS 2023 'Career Transitions for Researchers'
Our 9th Annual Researcher Education and Development Scholarship (REDS) Conference took place on Wednesday 11th October 2023.
Our keynote presentation was:
Uneasy transitions: The affective work of negotiating a research career
James Burford - Associate Professor of Global Education and International Development at the University of Warwick
In this talk, I am interested in dwelling with the uneasiness surrounding transitions into and out of careers in research and academia. For decades now, scholars have catalogued how wide scale reconfigurations to higher education have resulted in significant changes to the nature of academic work and the prospects of such work for those who aspire to it. Increasingly, researcher developers have intervened in this space, providing information and learning opportunities for researchers as they navigate uncertain and non-linear careers. Undoubtedly, this is important work that can assist researchers as they navigate transitions. However, as I have written previously (Burford, 2018), researchers’ attachments to certain fantasies of an academic career may be unbidden and submerged. This means that an orientation to careers work which (for example) seeks to provide more accurate information can skate over messy and beyond-rational dimensions of career attachment. In this talk, I argue that there can be affective work for researchers to do in relation to their career desires. Additionally, researcher education and development work focused on career transitions often has affective demands for those who deliver it. Indeed, researcher developers can themselves be positioned as institutional responsibility points for a range of uneasy affects circulating about researcher careers. Ultimately, in this talk, I invite colleagues to think further about affective entanglements with researcher career transitions. Together, I hope we can imagine what it might mean to work sensitively with researchers' hopes, fantasies and desires.
Biography: Associate Professor James Burford
Jamie Burford is an Associate Professor of Global Education and International Development at the University of Warwick. He joined the Department of Education Studies in 2021 after holding positions at La Trobe University (Australia) and the Faculty of Learning Sciences and Education at Thammasat University (Thailand). Jamie is a Critical University Studies researcher with a particular interest in graduate education and the academic profession. His projects have focused on doctoral writing, academic mobilities and migration, and inequalities in doctoral admissions. His current collaborative research projects are concerned with reasonable adjustments and mitigating circumstances frameworks in doctoral education, and distance doctoral education in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamie is Deputy Director of the new Centre for Doctoral Education and Academia Research (DEAR) and is Co-Editor-in- Chief of Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education.