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Understanding academic isolation and how to engage with it

Venue: TBC

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Research surveying 2,500 UK academics indicates that feelings of isolation have become pervasive in academia, with early career researchers being particularly affected. 40% of scholars and more than half below the age of 35 view isolation at work as a major issue for them. Our experience of isolation in research is problematic as it reduces our ability to succeed and develop our research careers, motivating many to abandon research altogether. Isolation may also have detrimental consequences for wellbeing and mental health, generating enduring feelings of alienation and significantly increasing the risks of burnout.

To become better integrated in our research communities, we first need to understand academic isolation and why we are subjected to it, and to take stock of our own level of integration. The aim of the first in a series of six workshops is to diagnose the specific ways in which you are well/ill integrated in your research communities and how you can become better integrated.

What will you get from participating in this workshop?

After this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Understand isolation/integration in academic fields and how it shapes research careers and well-being
  • Self-diagnose the different types of isolation might be experiencing.
  • Map different strategies to get more integrated in your field
  • Understand the effectiveness and limitations of the strategies you use to integrate in your field

Who is this workshop for?

All interested Birkbeck faculty members will benefit from participating in this workshop. However, early career faculty and research staff who have completed their PhD holding post-doc positions or lectureships will particularly benefit from participating.

Where and when will this workshop take place?

This workshop will take place twice in October 2022, once face-to-face and once online. You will have the option to choose which session you are attending when you book your place.

The face-to-face workshop will take place on Thursday 6 October. This workshop will run from 11am until 1pm. Sandwich lunch will be offered 1-2pm in the room.

Participants are most welcome to stay in the room 1-2pm to continue the conversation around food. The classroom number will be confirmed closer to the date.

The online workshop will take place on Friday 7 October 11am-12:30pm. The link to the virtual classroom will be shared closer to the date.


The workshop will be led by Dr Marcia Christina Ferreira, Senior Lecturer at Brunel, and Dr Olivier Sibai, Lecturer at Birkbeck. They have run a variety of workshops on academic isolation over the course of their academic careers and co-authored the research on which the proposed professional development workshop is based:

Belkhir, M., Brouard, M., Brunk, K. H., Dalmoro, M., Ferreira, M. C., Figueiredo, B., Huff A., Scaraboto D., Sibai O., & Smith A. N. (2019), Isolation in Globalizing Academic Fields: A Collaborative Autoethnography of Early Career Researchers. Academy of Management Learning and Education, Volume 18, No 2, pp. 261-285. 

The context for the workshop

The workshop is part of professional development series on the following six topics:

1. Thursday 6/7 October 2022 - Academic isolation and why it matters
2. Thursday 10 November 2022 - Creativity for research: developing creative solutions to research challenges and roadblocks
3. Thursday 8 December 2022 - Networking for researchers: strategies to develop helpful research relationships
4. Thursday 12 January 2023 - Communicating about your research: strategies to develop your reputation in your research community
5. Thursday 9 February 2023 - Together we are stronger: why and how to develop your own research collective
6. Thursday 9 March 2023 - Seizing the helping research hand: leveraging your research community’s integration systems

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