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First published July 1 2016

Job Insecurity in Academic Research Employment: An Agent-Based Model

Eric Silverman, Nic Geard, and Ian Wood

Abstract (Excerpt)

This paper presents an agent-based model of fixed-term academic employment in a competitive research funding environment based on UK academia. The goal of the model is to investigate the effects of job insecurity on research productivity. Agents may be either established academics who may apply for grants, or postdoctoral researchers who are unable to apply for grants and experience hardship when reaching the end of their fixed-term contracts. Model results show that in general adding fixed-term postdocs to the system produces less total research output than adding half as many permanent academics. An in-depth sensitivity analysis is performed across postdoc scenarios, and indicates that promoting more postdocs into permanent positions produces significant increases in research output.