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Conflating ‘young’ with ‘early career’ (again): the case of EuroScience

by on May 28, 2015

We’ve blogged on this topic before (as here in relation to the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology) but yesterday I spotted another example of an organization using the word ‘young’ when perhaps they meant ‘early career’. This conflation often comes up in the context of competitions but we’ve also seen it at academic conferences and in the context of jobs. I spotted it again yesterday in the context of an award for ‘young’ researchers, offered by EuroScience.

EuroScience describes itself here as a grassroots organization representing ‘European scientists in all areas of knowledge and those interested in science, whether in public sector institutions, universities, research institutes or the business sector’. It organizes The European Young Researchers Award (EYRA) for researchers demonstrating outstanding research performance and leadership. According to its website, the award ‘aims to inspire early stage researchers to incorporate a European dimension and perspective into their research‘ (emphasis added). This seems to conflate ‘young’ (as in the title of the award) with ‘early career’ (as in its stated aim). So which is it?

I tweeted this as a query to EuroScience yesterday but I’ve had no reply yet. I rather suspect that may be because the answer is ‘young’. The eligibility criteria on their website state: ‘The 2015 call is open to young researchers who are enrolled in their first PhD at the time of the application deadline or have defended their thesis after January 1st, 2015.’ This seems to exclude those who undertake a PhD for the first time at an older age. I have a vested interest as Director of a PhD Programme in a department (indeed, a University) which attracts many mature (and excellent) students.

That said, I couldn’t see any chronological definition of ‘young’ on the EuroScience website so perhaps PhD candidates of any age shouldn’t be deterred if they think of themselves as young…though, frankly, why should they have to in order to be considered for an award.

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