It’s October, apparently. Your Early Career (EC) Committee is a little confused because it feels like March went on forever and then suddenly the autumn leaves are falling, but here we are. That said, even if we feel like the time has jumped by, when we look at what we’ve achieved in our first year of this inaugural committee, we must have been hard at work! EC academics have been hit especially hard by the global crisis, and we ourselves have been struggling over this year trying to maintain our research, move our teaching online, and even just meet the basic requirements of carrying on when faced with a global health crisis that has fundamentally changed the world as we know it. But carry on we must, and as the popular phrase in our co-Chair Jim’s native England goes, we have done our best to “keep calm and carry on.”

When we started this committee a year ago, we had a few aims. Generally, we wanted to build community among all EC members and to increase awareness of EC scholarship (more on that later!). But more specifically, our first co-chair, Sarah Gaither, was particularly keen on changing the definition of what an EC member at SPSP is, and the implications this has for their dues and conference registration. Our second co-chair, Jim Everett, was particularly focused on reforming the current Early Career Awards. 

We are ecstatic to report progress on both of these goals! At the most recent SPSP Board Meeting, there was huge support for voting to officially change the current Early Career definition of being 3 years post PhD or less, to now being up to 6 years post PhD! These changes will come into place with the 2022 membership dues cycle. We hope that this definitional change encourages more SPSP Conference participation with the financial savings you will all receive while also motivating all EC scholars to build a more vibrant and awesome EC community too! 

At this same SPSP Board Meeting, we also were successful in launching changes for the current Early Career Awards too! First, we have renamed the SAGE Young Scholars Award to the SAGE Early Career Trajectory Award to be more identity inclusive. Second, the stipulation that people must be in a faculty position has been removed, replaced by a requirement that someone is between 3 and 6 years post-PhD. This allows people in post-docs or industry positions who are still making important contributions to be recognised for their work. Third, to recognise the diversity of contributions that scholars can make, we have expanded the requirements so that recipients will be honored for their individual and collaborative contributions to social and personality psychology, including via research, teaching, open science, and service-related efforts.. Fourth, we have created a new Early Career Award named the SAGE Emerging Scholar Award, open to individuals who are 0-3 years Post-PhD to be awarded in addition to the SAGE Early Career Trajectory Award. We are still finalizing the details with SPSP, but are very excited about these new changes that we hope will widen the acknowledgement of EC scholarship across one’s career!

Thus, from the very first meeting we had as a new committee, we wanted to make strides on these issues, and we’re glad we have. But of course, if you hadn’t heard, in March the world flipped on its head with a global pandemic. This created new concerns for EC members and exacerbated others, and we wanted to do our part to support you. You were concerned about maintaining productivity and connections when isolated; you were concerned about applying for jobs and promotion in these difficult times; you were concerned about how you can do your part as an EC member to foster a diverse and inclusive community. To this end, we started a number of new initiatives. We started a Summer EC Writing Group that was so successful we’ve extended it to the Fall term where we meet twice a week still (let us know if you want to join!).  We are hosting a professional development session at the SPSP Virtual Convention focusing on hiring, promotion and tenure as EC scholars and we’ve also prioritized EC mentoring tables at SPSP that focus on the new issues EC scholars are now facing. We are hosting Free-Form Friday webinars about repayment of NIH loans and applying for academic jobs in the United Kingdom and we’re also hosting a webinar on Fostering Inclusive and Diverse Research and Teaching Environments as EC leaders. 

We are proud of the work we’ve done together as a committee, but we’re not done. There is still so much more that we’ll do to support EC members, but you’ll have to wait until the next update for that!

As we sign off, we’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 2020 SAGE Young Scholars Awardees for their excellent achievement. These are very well deserved, and we were pleased to see the number of BIPOC recipients. But we’d also like to congratulate all our EC members, just for doing what they can to move forward in these difficult times. We see you, we recognise you, and we appreciate you.

Yours on behalf of the whole committee,
Jim A.C. Everett and Sarah Gaither

Read more in the Early Career Corner