Panel: Ninib Baryawno (Junior Faculty at KI), Janina Seubert (YAS member), Jan Hillert (Chair of the Recruitment committee), Anders Gustafsson (Vice president), Ewa Ehrenborg, (Director of Education at the Department of Medicine, Member of the Faculty board), Martin Bergö (Academic Vice President for Research, Chair of the Committee for Research). Moderator: Sverker Lundin (CEO of YAS).
From the university vision to the reality of making a research career – the Young Academy of Sweden arranged a seminar with focus on career paths for younger researchers at Karolinska Institutet (KI) on September 14. The popular event arranged in collaboration with KI and the Junior Faculty, gathered the university leadership and early-career researchers for discussions and exchanges about career opportunities at KI.
Janina Seubert, member of the Young Academy of Sweden (YAS) and Principal researcher at KI, presented the work of YAS and the long interest in improving career paths and promoting quality research.
Janina Seubert presents the Young Academy of Sweden. Photo: YAS
The Young Academy of Sweden has provided me with a fantastic platform to promote career and science policy issues, and I gain valuable leadership and project management skills, she explained.
Janina is also one of the authors of YAS’ newly released A Beginners’ Guide to Swedish Academia. The guide provides useful advice to researchers who are new to the Swedish system and aims to help navigate Swedish academia and remove time-consuming obstacles.
Georgios Sotiriou, Principal researcher at KI and vice chair JF presented Junior Faculty at Karolinska Institutet External link, opens in new window. (JF at KI) External link, opens in new window.. JF at KI's activities focus on the career system, policy and funding, equity, communication, and clinical research. JF also provides institutional representation at several committees at KI. Among the activities are workshops on how to obtain funding and a mentorship program.
1. Janina Seubert promotes A Beginner's Guide to Swedish Academia. 2. Georgios Sotiriou presents Junior Faculty at KI. 3. Alexandra Wennberg reports about the JF Equity Focus Group's surveys. (Click to enlarge) Photo: YAS
1. Slide: How YAS can help your research career. 2. Slide: The opportunities by gender at KI survey performed by JF at KI. 3. Slide: The career structre. Photo: YAS
Alexandra Wennberg, Postdoctoral researcher at KI and leader of the JF Equity Focus Group External link, opens in new window. presented results from some of the surveys they conduct to estimate how different groups do in terms of career opportunities. Alexandra highlighted that women and foreign researchers seem to face obstacles that other researchers do not.
Klara Regnö, Coordinator at the Equal opportunities group at KI External link, opens in new window., provided information about KI's initiatives addressing equality challenges at the university and recommended the audience to apply to FIELD (Fellows in Equal Career Development) External link, opens in new window..
Vice president Anders Gustafsson presented KI's vision and the strategy document 2030 Creating Karolinska Institutet’s Future Together External link, opens in new window.. He underlined that it’s imperative that KI continuously manages to attract young talented scholars.
Vice president Anders Gustafsson presented KI:s vision and strategy for 2030. Photo: YAS
There are many different career paths available at the university as well as in the private sector. The universities are part of a society that faces many challenges. He expressed pride in KI:s effort to build labs for testing early on in the pandemic and emphasized that time and time again, basic research has proven crucial to provide huge leaps forward in knowledge.
Jan Hillert, Professor/senior physician and chair of the recruitment committee at KI, walked the audience through the career structure at KI External link, opens in new window..
Chair of the recruitment committee Jan Hillert explained the career structure at KI. Photo: YAS
The basic framework is the regulation that govern appointments in the sector, the Higher Education Ordinance (HEO) (högskoleförordningen) External link, opens in new window.. In addition, the KI board has stipulated a set of rules; the assessment criteria are regulated in three documents External link, opens in new window.. The documents clarify the career structure and its positions. With the career structure, KI aims to demonstrate the diversity of career opportunities within the university.
It is emphasized that the structure should not be seen as a career ladder that people need to go through step by step within the same profile. Jan explained:
You can consider switching area. You can also pursue a career going from a staff profile to a research profile. And you can skip levels, it’s a matter of fulfilling the criteria.. However, you cannot be promoted to professor.
The general rule is that KI must announce vacant positions.
Researcher profile/ Forskningsprofil
Educational profile/ Utbildningsprofil
Adjunct profile/ Adjungerad profil
Staff scientist/ Forskningsstöd
Adjunct professor/Adjungerad professor
Adjunct senior lecturer/Adjungerad lektor
Principal researcher/Senior forskare*
Assistant senior lecturer/
Senior research specialist/Senior forsknings-specialist*
Assistant professor/Biträdande lektor
Assistant professor/Biträdande lektor
PhD/ Fil. dr
Adjunct lecturer/Adjungerad adjunkt
Research specialist/ Forsknings-specialist*
* Positions ruled by the third document External link, opens in new window. that regulates positions whose duties are mainly within research or research support, these positions are included in the career system from July 1st, 2021.
The panel: Anders Gustafsson, Vice President; Jan Hillert, Head of the Recruitment Committee; Martin Bergö, Academic Vice President for Research, Chair of Committee for Research; Ewa Ehrenborg, Director of Education Department of Medicine, Member of the Faculty board; Janina Seubert, member of the Young Academy of Sweden; Ninib Baryawno Vice Chair Junior Faculty at KI.
1. Panel: Ninib Baryawno (Junior Faculty at KI), Janina Seubert (YAS member), Jan Hillert (Chair of the Recruitment committee), Anders Gustafsson (Vice president), Ewa Ehrenborg, (Director of Education at the Department of Medicine, Member of the Faculty board), Martin Bergö (Academic Vice President for Research, Chair of the Committee for Research). Moderator: Sverker Lundin (CEO of YAS). 2. and 3. Mingle with panelists and career seminar participants. (Click to enlarge) Photo: YAS
The talks were followed by a panel discussion and to start it off each panel member was asked to highlight what is important to focus on when developing a research career.
Among the advice were, first and foremost, excellent research, but also showing responsibility, i.e. leadership skills, and teaching. Be resilient, maintain your passion to the research, and find a mentor. Identify your niche. You have to attract funding and publish high impact papers. It is also imperative to train your communicative skills and how to present your research, build your network and spread appreciation. Ask for help and express your desired path forward. Dare to go outside your field of competence, and be curious. You are in fact your own career advocate.
The panel highlighted the crass conditions of the current system, where the impact factor of publishing and the funding you attract largely determine the career opportunities. A transformation of this is underway, trying to find other ways to evaluate the usefulness of science and open science is part of that transformation.
Let other people look at your application beforehand and collect feedback. Spend time on the abstract – it makes a huge difference, was one advice offered. By establishing pre-review processes where colleagues assist each other in sharpening their applications, success rates can improve.
If your career gets stuck, be agile and look ahead, perhaps consider moving to another department? Funding is often a limiting factor and competition is high.
1,2 and 3. Mingle with panelists and career seminar participants. (Click to enlarge) Photo: YAS
A member of the audience raised the issues facing international recruitments, with a new set of challenges, adapting to the new country and research environment. The panel reflected that KI should always keep asking themselves what more they can do, and to have continuous discussions with international recruitments, and present all opportunities.
Regarding ERC grants, an audience member asked if there were any possibility for KI to ”fill in the gaps”. The answer was that these decisions are made at the department level and that it will differ between departments.
About application feedback, an audience member asked why there is no feedback on declined applications like there is in other countries? How can one get better when one doesn’t know what should be improved? The explanation offered was that in Sweden, reviewers usually review a huge number of applications at the same time and therefore unfortunately don’t have the possibility to leave feedback. Again, feedback from colleagues is therefore important.
Also make sure to develop your independence, was one of the last among many points raised in the discussions.
After the seminar, conversations and networking continued at a mingle where also students and researchers passing by joined in.
The Young Academy of Sweden is delighted to have had the opportunity to dive into the career system at KI and would like to thank Junior Faculty at KI, the brilliant panelists, and of course, all the engaged researchers who both visited the seminar and posted questions in advance.