As the first national network of early-career researchers marks its 21st birthday, the founders of Hungary describe how and why they set up theirs in 2019.
Twenty-one years ago this month, Germany became the first country to launch a national Young Academy of early-career researchers. This spawned a movement that now straddles 45 countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe, including 14 in Africa and 13 in Asia. Such academies now exist in countries that score well in academic-freedom indices, and in some that don’t.
Alongside these national bodies, which usually have between 25 and 60 individual members, there are 16 similar bodies around the world (see ‘A step beyond’), including 5 transnational organizations (such as the Global Young Academy, founded in 2010, and the Young Academy of Europe, founded in 2012). Their financial and legal status, as well as their relation to senior academies and governments, greatly varies— which strongly influences the possibilities and potential impacts of each of these organizations.
Young Academies aim to support junior scientists and to get their voices heard by decision-makers as they race to produce academic knowledge and meet ever-evolving research-evaluation procedures. They also advocate science’s role in helping to meet societal challenges and provide authentic, trustworthy information in an era of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. Many early-career researchers juggle these demands alongside precarious positions and caring responsibilities.
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