Autistica is launching a new training programme to provide early career researchers with the skills and knowledge to become the next generation of leaders in autism research.

About the training programme

The programme will provide the next generation of autism researchers with the skills and attributes needed to conduct high quality, impactful autism research that makes a genuine difference to the lives of autistic people and their families. We will select 12-16 early career researchers per year to take part in the programme.

The goals of the programme include:

  • Supporting researchers to foster and develop the skills needed to become a future leader in autism research. These include general research management skills and autism specific research skills such as participatory research practices.
  • Building a strong network of early career researchers, which can enable future research collaborations and an interconnected research community.
  • Providing a space for early career researchers to interact with, and learn from, a diverse group of established researchers.

Timeline for the training programme:

  • March 2021 – April 2021: Application window open
  • May 2021: Applications are reviewed by the training programme team
  • June 2021: Applicants are informed of the outcome of their application
  • September 2021 – May 2022: Learning sessions (approximately monthly) featuring a mix of established researchers
  • July 2022: End of programme celebration at Autistica annual Research Conference

Training session days will run from 10:00am to 3:00pm in three blocks/sessions with breaks. The programme will be led by Laura Crane, Hannah Pickard and Sarah O’Brien, with a different group of established researchers contributing to each session.

The programme will occur remotely through video conferencing software and will continue through digital means even if there are changes to the public health and government guidelines. An integral part of this programme will be accessibility for all participants.

Potential topics for the training programme (subject to change and availability) are:

  • Routes into an academic career
  • Grant writing and proposals
  • Working in partnership with autistic people
  • Making autism research more inclusive
  • Changing policy with research
  • Communicating science to the public
  • Research leadership skills

Some of the established researchers who have already agreed to lead sessions include Professor Francesca Happé, Professor Sue Fletcher-Watson, Professor Nicola Shaughnessy and Professor Will Mandy. Established researchers from disciples across autism research are involved in this training programme to highlight the breadth of approaches to researching with autistic people and the skills needed throughout a successful research career.

Inclusion criteria

This training programme is open to early career researchers who are studying/ working in the UK.

We do not have a strict definition of what constitutes an early career researcher as we appreciate the diversity of routes to an academic career and how this may be influenced by personal circumstances (e.g., career breaks, part-time working).

As a broad guide, this programme is likely to be useful for those in the final year of their doctoral studies up to those who have, for example, been in a permanent/ substantive academic post for 1-2 years or are no more than 5-7 years post-PhD (full-time equivalent).

We particularly welcome applications from:

  • Those who would be unable to apply for this programme again (e.g., as they would no longer fulfil our definition of early career researcher).
  • Autistic autism researchers and similarly neurodivergent autism researchers.
  • Those who are not typically represented in the research field, including often underrepresented groups in race, gender, sexuality and disability.

Guidance for applicants

Read our Guidance for Applicants document to find out more about applying.

How to apply

For this application process we are focusing on you and your values as an applicant, not metrics for impact that are traditionally collected (e.g., publications, funding awards, prizes).

Applications will be viewed in respect to what you can bring to programme, why the programme is a benefit to you now and what you hope to learn from taking part in the programme.

The application window is open from 22 March to 30 April 2021.

Applications can be made by filling in this application form and emailing the form to Sarah O’Brien, Research and Policy Officer on sarah.obrien@autistica.org.uk using the subject line “Researcher Training Programme Completed Application”. If you need the application form in an alternative format please contact Sarah.

Please submit your application no later than 11:59pm local UK time on Friday 30 April 2021.

If you have questions about the training programme or the application process, please read the guidance for applicants or get in touch with Sarah O'Brien.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by 4 June 2021.