Friday, February 23, 2007

In Barcelona

I have finished my stay in Lyon and arrived to Barcelona to attend a round table for young researchers organised by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Interestingly enough the definition of young researcher seemed to include any researcher after the PhD but without a stable contract (that is, postdocs, non tenured group leaders and people in teaching positions).

I was a rather interesting discussion that dealt with things that I imagine are common worries for young researchers across Europe and elsewhere. Mainly the difficulty of living on short term research contracts, (for those of us postdocing somewhere else) the strain of keeping up with friends, relatives and former colleagues while living abroad, the gap between our real age (late twenties or early thirties) and how our status is perceived by the rest of the population (not like assistant professors or people with "real" jobs and more like students with a fancy "Dr." in front). Other issues that I found very relevant not only for young researchers are the link between research and teaching (in Spain, like many other countries, university lecturers are paid to teach but their progress on the career ladder depends exclusively on publications) and linked to that if the main duty of academic staff is to perform research or to teach (there seemed to be some consensus that universities should be free to chose wether to have a research profile or a teaching profile).