Worrying Development in Academia?


I hope this doesn't become more common in academia. http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AES213/honorary-research-assistant/


That's surely bordering on the illegal. I hope someone reports them for violating NMW legislation, but I have a horrible suspicion that they could spin it as free training even though it looks like a job to me. I thought some of the temporary teaching fellowships were bad enough forms of exploitation but this really is awful. And the true shame of it, I bet they will get lots of applicants.


======= Date Modified 27 Jun 2012 22:34:36 =======
If there was something to report I would report it but it's 'voluntary' work. Where will it end? They will get lots of applications I'm sure and it might prompt other academics to follow suit.


I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this already to be honest. And yes, there will be lots of applicants I'm quite sure.


I sincerely hope we don't see more of it!


Oh I certainly don't think it's a helpful development, but it's no surprise at all. Academia isn't immune to applying private sector principles, where go into any large firm now and you can easily find unpaid "interns" or "volunteers" all desperately seeking that edge for their CV to get a job.


This is an ominous development. Shame on them for trying to get round the minimum wage! Let's face it - after all that hard work, most of us hope for a tiny little better than the minimum wage!

Working conditions in Academia are bad enough already. For many - no tenure, no holiday pay, constantly scrambling for grants etc.

Now 'work for nothing!' Academia is truly not an attractive employment prospect.



======= Date Modified 29 Jun 2012 04:52:41 =======
I cannot believe the way things are heading and it looks to me as though academics could start to exploit the situation due to the surplus of students trying to find ways in.


Thanks DanB. Sadly I don't think higher education is what it once was and it is worrying that even with good qualifications people cannot get decent jobs and are even being asked to work for free.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 02 Jul 2012 08:23:37 =======
This reads as an academic that has a pet project not enough to justify a new student, but perhaps a part-time post-doc. However, they have failed to get funding (a situation that will only get worse) so are after someoneone who might do it simply to gain some works experience because they can't find other employment without it.

This is all very cynical and might just come off because of the reason I have described. After the failure of my second post-doc, the above is effectively what I had to do to fill in a gap in my CV. This was helping my former PhD supervisor with a book chapter when he realised he'd taken on too much work. It was not so bad as I ended up and made sure I was first author, however, I reckon I put in easily about three thousand pounds worth of work (not counting the home electricity used).

EDIT: I didn't really mind helping out my former supervisor who had been good to me, plus it strengthened my references and as I said filled a gap on my CV. However, if you do work for an organisation (in my case my former PhD Uni.) you should be paid for it.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)

Avatar for XJR

If they get a lot of applications for this - which they inevitably will in the current climate - they will think "why have entry level research job positions when there is an army of unpaid labour only too happy to do these jobs for free".

Volunteering is meant to be a few hours after work or on a weekend helping out in the community - not doing a skilled job for free.


Good post - I agree XJR.


Hey! I actually saw this the other day when I was having a scan for jobs! I think they can get away with this because it's the kind of post that would be really valuable experience for people wanting to apply for the clinical psychology doctorate. Originally assistant psychologist posts were the way onto the doctorate, but now many courses value clinical research experience as well- a lot of my old PhD pals have got straight onto clinical training after their clinically oriented research PhD and I know a few people who have got on straight after clinical research assistant jobs. There are often adverts for honorary assistant psychologists and loads of people apply because they are desperate to get onto clinical training, which is fully funded at almost twice the amount that a fully funded PhD student will get. Many people see the clinical doctorate as a secure position for three years, which can be quite attractive when otherwise faced with 12 month research contracts. It's sad in a way, but I'm not remotely surprised. Am considering applying for clinical training myself at the end of the year. Best, KB


I agree it's a worrying trend. I saw a similar ad (also at Birmingham) last year when I was job hunting, and I thought "not a chance I'd apply".
I answer this as someone who did work as an HONORARY assistant psychologist, two days a week for nine months. As Keenbean mentioned, I did it as at the time I was hoping to go on to do a clinical psychology doctorate and it was pretty difficult to get paid assistant posts at the time without a lot of experience.

The place I currently work has quite a few unpaid assistants getting experience. I don't really know exactly what hours they do, but they certainly do an aternoon or two a week. One girl has been there a few years and did manage to get a paid job out of it, at first two days a week and then full time the last 6 months. She has moved from doing mainly clinical stuff, to doing a lot of research work, but is due to leave soon. My boss wants to replace her with an honorary post, though at the moment we're all unsure how many days and whether it the repalcement will be more for the clinical stuff or research. Personally I feel if you have work that NEEDS to be done, then someone should be paid for doing it. If they are there to get experience for themselves then maybe I can see the use to the candidate. On the otherhand my boss has no money as such to pay someone (the current post is paid out of his outside consulatancy work). And if she doesn't get replaced the research jobs will probably pass to the current post docs (i.e. me and my two colleagues) who all have full time projects of our own.