In 2001, several members of national organisations for ECRs met at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden, organized during the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union. They recognized the urgent need to establish a European-wide organisation for ECRs as their views were largely absent from policy debates at the European level where they could contribute to developing higher education and science.
Eurodoc was subsequently founded in Girona, Spain on 2 February 2002 and has since provided a platform for national associations representing ECRs across European countries to raise their collective voice and ensure their professional status by sharing practices and advice across borders. We believe that by representing and consolidating the community of ECRs in Europe, we can achieve improved working conditions, sustained career advancement and employee status for all ECRs. With a healthy research environment, as well as fair and equitable treatment, ECRs will be motivated and better equipped to generate new knowledge and provide innovative solutions to societal problems.
However, strong discrepancies still exist between how ECRs are treated across Europe and in different disciplines. Many are still not fully recognised as professional workers and do not have appropriate working conditions. The work of ECRs should be compensated with adequate funding, social provisions and mobility rights. Additionally, we have identified key issues for ECRs that must be addressed, including the need for proper career development (especially for the non-academic labor market), implementing Open Science (knowing what it reflects and how it should be practiced) and raising mental health concerns.
Formal education and training must be standard for ECRs, to equip them with a broad range of skills for professional development, employability, social engagement and active citizenship. This pursuit requires a new and innovative approach that allows ECRs to develop various transferable skills to ultimately become more effective in their research, as well as an extensive range of competencies for their future lives and careers.