Perceptions in health and medical research careers: The Australian Society for Medical Research Workforce Survey

Kavallaris, Maria, Meachem, Sarah J., Hullet, Mark D., West, Catherine M., Pitt, Rachael E., Chesters, Jennifer J., Laffan, Warren S., Boreham, Paul R. and Khachigian, Levon M. (2008) Perceptions in health and medical research careers: The Australian Society for Medical Research Workforce Survey. Medical Journal of Australia, 188 9: 520-524.

Author Kavallaris, Maria
Meachem, Sarah J.
Hullet, Mark D.
West, Catherine M.
Pitt, Rachael E.
Chesters, Jennifer J.
Laffan, Warren S.
Boreham, Paul R.
Khachigian, Levon M.
Title Perceptions in health and medical research careers: The Australian Society for Medical Research Workforce Survey
Journal name Medical Journal of Australia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0025-729X
Publication date 2008-05-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 188
Issue 9
Start page 520
End page 524
Total pages 5
Place of publication Sydney, Australia
Publisher Australasian Medical Publishing
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subject C1
1605 Policy and Administration
Formatted abstract
To report on the sentiments of the Australian health and medical research (HMR) workforce on issues related to employment and funding opportunities.

Design, setting and participants:
In August 2006, the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) invited all of its members to participate in an online survey. The survey took the form of a structured questionnaire that focused on career aspirations, career development and training opportunities, attitudes toward moving overseas to work, and employment conditions for medical researchers.

Main outcome measures:
Researchers’ views on career opportunities, funding opportunities, salary and quality of the working environment; impact of these views on retaining a skilled medical research workforce in Australia.

Of the 1258 ASMR members, 379 responded (30% response rate). Ninety-six per cent of respondents were currently based in Australia; 70% had a PhD or equivalent; and 58% were women. Most respondents worked at hospital research centres (37%), independent research institutes (28%) or university departments (24%). Sixty-nine per cent had funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, with the remainder funded by other sources. Over the previous 5 years, 6% of respondents had left active research and 73% had considered leaving. Factors influencing decisions about whether to leave HMR included shortage of funding (91%), lack of career development opportunities (78%) and poor financial rewards (72%). Fifty-seven per cent of respondents were directly supported by grants or fellowships, with only 16% not reliant on grants for their continuing employment; 62% believed that funding had increased over the previous 5 years, yet only 30% perceived an increase in employment opportunities in HMR. Among the respondents, twice as many men as women held postgraduate qualifications and earned ≥ $100 000 a year.

Employment insecurity and lack of funding are a cause of considerable anxiety among Australian health and medical researchers. This may have important implications for the recruitment and retention of researchers.

Keyword Workforce
Health research
Medical research
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Wed, 15 Apr 2009, 16:41:06 EST by Colleen Keeffe on behalf of Social Research Centre