ISTAART / UCL ECR Survey Results

ECR Survey

It is only through the undertaking of vital dementia research that we can understand Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. To understand what is happening in the brain and how to prevent, better diagnose, treat and care for people living with the disease.

Behind every discovery are researchers, with the majority falling into the category of being at the early career stage (ECRs). ECRs are widely seen as producing great work, but from within the field there are concerns about how supported individuals feel to thrive and remain within the sector, there are also questions around what actions research institutions, funders and policy makers are taking to address research careers issues.

To investigate researchers’ experiences of their workplaces, fields, careers and support, University College London and The Alzheimer's Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer's Research and Treatment (ISTAART) Professional Interest Area to Elevate Early Career Researchers (PEERS) surveyed ECRs working in the field of dementia or those who had recently left the field - the survey was undertaken in in September / October 2021.

Message from the PEERS Executive Committee

Delivering this survey, is a major milestone for PEERS, a process started in late 2020. The findings will steer our work, and inform the decisions we make on how to offer support. It also gives us insights on where to lobby for change and improvements, working with funding bodies, policy makers and academic and health institutions. However, publishing these results, and making them freely available for further analysis, is just the first step.

The results of the survey have reassured us that we have an enthusiastic, dedicated and thriving ECR community. However, there are also many areas for concern and areas which can be improved. PEERS will continue to undertake further analysis on the results of this survey, publish the findings and act on the next steps, specifically:

  1. Work to deliver support in the priority areas identified by respondents to this survey and respond to regional needs.
  2. Undertake analysis on the survey results and work towards publishing the findings in open access journals.
  3. Undertake further survey work to continue to monitor and further explore the topics explored in this survey, including at a continent level.
  4. Work to share these results with research funders, institutions, policy makers and those who can support addressing the issues raised.
  5. Seek out partnerships with organisations to deliver support and encourage delivery of improvements.

The Results


Report / Results

The results data is currently being utilised to inform production of the papers listed on this page - as a result is is only available upon request. To request access to the data please use our Contact Us form, including your name, email address, name of your institution and how you intend to use the data.

Download the report (with graphics) Download the report (for use with screen readers)

If you have any accessibility issues with the reports, please let us know and we will do our best to support your need -

Leaders Comments

Adam Smith
PEERS Chairperson, Programme Director, Dementia Researcher, University College London

"The survey results highlight how fantastically enthusiastic and dedicated early career researchers. They love their jobs and want to make a difference to the lives of people living with dementia now, and prevent it for future generations. However, it also highlights significant issues and barriers that will need to be overcome if we want to encourage those researchers to remain within the field and to attract more in the future. Through Dementia Researcher and ISTAART, we hope to provide support and continue to work with partners to bring about improvements and long-term change to the system.”

Dr Maria C. Carrillo
Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer's Association

"This survey sheds light on the challenges faced by early career Alzheimer's researchers, and we look forward to gleaning insights that will help us better support them and their work. This next generation of researchers are crucial to the future of Alzheimer's research and treatment, and will ultimately lead us to understand even more about the biology of Alzheimer’s and dementia, develop new tools for earlier and more accurate diagnoses, and establish novel avenues for treatments."

Martin Rossor
Professor of Clinical Neurology at University College London & Chairman of the Senate for the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

"This is an important piece of work, bringing attention to the challenges faced by early career researchers across the world. Increasing funding and improving research culture will help ensure we can attract and retain people and this work will help identify how to prioritise and deliver those improvements."

Gill Livingstone
Professor of Psychiatry of Older People, University College London

“Currently, I find that many of the most brilliant and creative people are choosing a career in dementia research. The funding and job uncertainty means they often have to change their path, so that we will make less progress. This makes no sense for people with dementia, their families and the wider economy. It is imperative that governments, universities and charities act on this now."

Dr Nina Silverberg
Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers Program, NIH National Institute on Aging

“Supporting and training the next generation of scientists will bring us closer to effective treatments and preventions for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Efforts must focus on diversifying the research workforce, which includes incorporating diverse views, experiences, backgrounds, cultures, and scientific interests of those scientists. The NIH National Institute on Aging leads efforts including training, grant programs, diversity supplements, and education to promote research workforce diversity and enhance the inclusion of trained investigators from underrepresented groups who can become the next generation of leaders in aging research.”

Dr Rosa Sancho
Head of Research, Alzheimer's Research UK

“Early Career Researchers (ECRs) play significant roles in delivering the projects that we fund. They are central to creating a rich and diverse research culture and connecting the dementia research field through the networks they form. It is critical that we listen to the needs of ECRs and support career pathways that can be challenging and vulnerable to loss of talent. Our vision of a world without dementia is only possible through nurturing talented and dedicated ECRs to become future leaders."

Sir Jackie Stewart OBE
Founder and Chairman Race Against Dementia

“I firmly believe that the best way to beat dementia will be by attracting and retaining fresh new minds into the field of dementia research. We need them to challenge the existing ways in which research is carried out and to encourage researchers to think outside the box. We must do everything we can to support these early career researchers - by ensuring their well-being, providing different types of training as well as financial support and allowing them enough time to focus on their research. We need to strive for change, to improve the environment for our researchers as well as working hard, as a research community, to provide more funding to beat this devastating disease. ”

Malú Gámez Tansey
Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology at University of Florida & Editor-in-Chief, Nature Partner Journal Parkinson's Disease

"As a female scientist of color, I see my responsibility as a leader who has a voice to give early-stage researchers an opportunity to share their ideas by  speaking at conferences so they can start making an impact from very early on in their scientific training; and to network and become connected with others who can help them accomplish whatever career outcomes their hearts desire. To make this happen, I work with allies who believe in the importance of multicultural work and training environments because it is the richness of diverse backgrounds and life experiences that will lead us to solve the most challenging problems facing science this century."

Dr Natasha Krishnadas
The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melborne

"Dementia research can be challenging, but very rewarding. From the perspective of an early career researcher, this comprehensive survey clearly highlights that while early career researchers are often highly motivated and passionate about our work, there remain practical barriers that impact on our ability to stay working in this field, that affect our research productivity, and personal wellbeing. Addressing these factors is vital in order to support and retain future generations of dementia researchers."

Paulo Caramelli
Professor of Neurology, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

"Early-career researchers play a fundamental role in the advancement of science and this also applies to the field of dementia research. However, students and young investigators face many challenges in their activities, including project funding, job availability, salaries, balance between work and personal life, and pressure to generate original/impactful data. Cultural and linguistic differences represent additional barriers for many individuals. In this sense, the survey conducted by the University College London and the ISTAART PIA to Elevate Early Career Researchers constitutes a timely and great initiative to understand the needs of these colleagues and might contribute to develop support programs for their activities, aiming at short- and long-term benefits to improve their lifework."

Dr Richard Oakley
Associate Director of Research, Alzheimer's Society

“These survey results reiterate what we already know – the commitment and passion of early career researchers are key in changing the lives of people affected by dementia. However, we need to acknowledge and address the challenges and barriers they face in building a career in dementia research. This study shows much more needs to be done to improve equality, diversity and inclusion and provide a more secure funding environment to support the next generation of dementia research leaders. Alzheimer’s Society provides vital training, support and funding for early career researchers to ensure those changes happen, along with calling for the Government to follow through on its dementia moonshot promise.”

Dr Hussein Yassine
NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers Program Research Education Component Steering Committee Member

"Good advice for helping keep Early Career Researchers is by relaxing the funding lines, providing grant writing workshops, offering platforms to achieve different kinds of mentorship guidance (scientific, career development, professional) and working with institutions to align prospective scholars with positions/institutional need. Some of our talented pool opt to leave academia because of job security and shortage of academic openings that match their training and interest."


List of papers / further analysis in progress

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early career dementia researchers: a global online survey - Lead author Dr Sara Bartels

Every second early- and mid-career researchers in the field of dementia are dealing with anxiety / depression - Lead author TBC

  • Email if interested in collaboration

Young scientists’ attraction to and perception of the field of dementia: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author Dr Beth Shaaban

  • Drafting in progress

Understanding geopgraphical challenges and moving countries to purse a career in dementia research: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author Wagner Brum

  • Drafting in progress

Publishing your research, thoughts from early career dementia researchers: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author TBC

  • Email if interested in collaboration

Experiences and perceptions of sexism in dementia research careers: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author Adam Smith

  • Drafting in progress

Why are dementia researchers leaving academia and what happens next: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author Anqesha Murray / Dr Sara Bartels / Dr Diana Karamacoska 

  • Drafting in progress

Discrimination experienced by early- and mid-career researchers in the field of dementia: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author TBC

  • Email if interested in collaboration

What is the value of academic conferences, why do we attend and how is this changing?: A cross-sectional (worldwide) survey - Lead author TBC

  • Email if interested in collaboration


Comments 3

  1. Adam Smith

    What further analysis would you like to see performed on the survey results? Reply below

  2. Adam Smith

    Great to see the first paper using the survey results published – read the paper in full here:


    Survey data from n = 321 ECDRs from 34 countries were analyzed (67.6% women; 78.8% working in academia). Overall, 77.8% of ECDRs surveyed indicated research delays, 53.9% made project adjustments, 37.9% required additional or extended funding, and 41.8% reported a negative impact on career progression. Moreover, 19.9% felt unsupported by their institutions and employers (33% felt well supported, 42.7% somewhat supported). ECDR’s conference attendance remained the same (26.5%) or increased (More: 28.6%; a lot more: 5.6%) since the start of the pandemic. Continental differences were visible, while the impact of the pandemic did not differ greatly based on ECDRs’ sociodemographic characteristics.


    The COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial impact on ECDRs worldwide and institutions, employers, and funding bodies are urged to consider the implications and lessons-learned when working with, managing, and promoting ECDRs. Strategies related to the pandemic and general career support to improve ECDRs career progression are discussed, including social media training, digital networking, and benefits of hybrid events. Global resources specific for ECDRs are highlighted.


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