Analysis: Why Junior Researchers are Travelling Less

We surveyed over 200 junior researchers to find out what’s holding them back

For researchers, career progression is linked with international travel. We already knew that junior researchers are less likely to travel than any other group, but we didn’t know why…that is, until now.

Over 200 of you came forward to share what was holding you back, and we saw a number of issues come up again and again.

Curious about why junior researchers travel less? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Funding

When asked to select the biggest barrier from a list, over 63% of you chose funding. In comments, some of you explained that even where funding does exist, more senior staff are generally prioritised for travel opportunities.

2. Time

A further 11% of you selected time constraints as the main problem. In comments, this issue was often linked to childcare, and the challenges of managing work travel with caring responsibilities.

Of the 200 respondents, 5% selected that they choose not to travel, mostly citing the inherent stress of it; the remaining 20% indicated that something else was the primary challenge.

In the comments section, some issues —hierarchicy, childcare, visas and carbon emissions— came up repeatedly.

3. Hierarchy

A high number of you— approximately 12% — highlighted issues associated with hierarchy. These included the prioritisation of senior staff travel over juniors, and active resistance to junior travel from supervisors and principal investigators.

4. Caring Responsibilities

Almost the same percentage, 11.5%, commented on the challenges of balancing parental and other caring responsibilities with work travel. Lack of childcare funding and support, as well as the difficulty of being apart from young children, were the primary issues mentioned.

5. Visas

For just over 3% of you, visas came up as a key barrier. Problems with paperwork, visa costs and the time it takes to secure a visa were all mentioned.

6. Environment

Finally, approximately 2% of junior researchers raised concerns about the carbon emissions caused by overseas travel, with some of you recommending virtual conferencing as a possible solution.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this research. While it’s clear that there’s no one single answer to the question of why junior researchers are travelling less, these figures provide an insight into some of the key obstacles in your way.

By sharing your thoughts, you’ve helped to shed light on the challenges faced by the community and highlight potential ways to improve opportunities for the next generation of researchers.

Learn more:

Stories: Researchers Share Their Stories of Travel Barriers

In numbers: Why Junior Researchers are Travelling Less

Video: The Results Are In: Junior Researcher Travel Barriers

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