Stability is crucial – pioneering survey about researchers under 45 in Hungary

Devotion to and the excitement of discovery launch young people on scientific careers. However, young researchers under 35 consider their futures to be the most unsafe. These are the most important findings of a recent survey initiated by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which addressed the whole of the Hungarian scientific community.

The Forum of Young Researchers was first arranged at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) in 2017, accompanying the 188th General Assembly of the Academy. In March 2018, a questionnaire was shared with scientists to explore the situation of researchers under 45 and gather their opinions. The majority of respondents work for the research network of the MTA or teach in higher education.

As proven by the results, most young researchers were attracted to their profession by devotion to and the excitement of scientific discovery. Other important factors include the usefulness of the research results and knowledge transfer.

Most scientists choose another career path owing to the low wages in the scientific field (both for researchers and for teachers), the lack of financial sources for research, and inadequate infrastructure. Other factors causing researchers to leave their jobs include extreme administrative requirements and a high number of classes to be taught. The survey proved that researchers under 35 consider their future the most unsafe. They tend to consider changing their career or leaving the country. Compared to other fields of research, scientists working in the medical field turned out to be the group most probable to leave the country within five years.

Respondents agreed that competitive incomes and the development and modernisation of research infrastructure would make scientific work more attractive. Young researchers wish to see a safe research career path outlined and a stable institutional background.

The survey examined the situation of female researchers as well. Although the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has taken important steps to support female researchers, most of these grants are aimed at helping women who are in mid-career. Respondents agreed that suitable support programs would be needed at all stages of their careers. The handicap of female researchers is illustrated by the fact that, according to the non-representative survey, male scientists in their thirties are much more likely to work in senior positions, and a greater percentage of them have a higher scientific degree than their female colleagues. The percentage of female respondents who claimed that they had suffered negative discrimination during their scientific career was at 28%.

The questionnaire was filled out by 1,760 respondents and was evaluated by nine young researchers. The full report on the survey is available in Hungarian.

For further information please contact:

Neumann Eszter:
neumann [dot] eszter [at] tk [dot] mta [dot] hu

Pósfai Mihály:
mihaly [dot] posfai [at] gmail [dot] com

Toldi Gergely: