What is ECA?

ECA is a grassroots initiative of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), designed to listen to, and communicate the issues that particularly affect early career archaeologists, who otherwise often feel they have no way of voicing their concerns.

Whether you are struggling to find a job, unsure about your future, or dissatisfied with your current work situation, this community is for you! At ECA we know that employment precarity is only one aspect of the overall picture. Precarity takes different forms in the academic and commercial sectors.

From strenuous field-work conditions to a lack of research freedom and results/data ownership, to a culture of publish-or-perish even during periods of under- or unemployment, there are many reasons to feel insecure as an early career archaeologist. Our focus is on need. How, practically, can the life of ECAs be improved, so that archaeology remains a rewarding field with reliable career trajectories?

We hope that by highlighting the widespread and intensive pressures faced by ECAs we can start a dialogue with employers, research and funding institutes, and supervisors so that these issues might be better addressed.

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How can I be involved?

You can write to ecataskforce@outlook.com and/or subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here. If you are already a member of the EAA you can also subscribe to the ECA Community through their website. You can also contact and interact with us, and members of the ECA Community by following our Facebook and Twitter pages.

If you are an early career archaeologist who has felt the effects of these systemic issues on your career and wellbeing, or if you are concerned about the direction of the discipline and the wellbeing of your colleagues, then this community is for you. If you feel over-worked, under-paid and under-recognised, we are here to help. Join us and make an impact!

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Can I be a member of the ECA Community without being a member of the EAA?

Yes, any archaeologist can join the ECA Community. If you are an EAA member we encourage you to subscribe on the e-a-a.org website. However if you are an EAA member we encourage you to also subscribe to our Community by logging in at this address and pressing the “subscribe” button. Having registered members of the ECA Community gives us more presence and a larger voice within the Association.

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What is your definition of an Early Career Archaeologist? When am I no longer an ECA?

The ECA Community is not about age but status. Basically, we consider ECAs to be professionals who have not yet held a position of responsibility or authority within their institution, often marked by tenure. The European Research Council considers ‘starting’ researchers to be within 7 years of their PhD. But this definition only applies to the academic sector. The commercial and heritage sectors have different accreditation systems and career milestones. Even within academia, it is uncommon for archaeologists to hold a permanent job at PhD+7. Transitioning away from fixed-term contracts can be a massive headache.  The ECA Community stands to help all those who plan to stay in archaeology long-term. If you feel like you have been discriminated at work and/or finding a post-doctoral position/job because of your age, we’d like to hear from you.

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I completed my PhD 7 years ago. Most post-docs are no longer available to me. What do I do now?

One of the major issues currently faced by ECAs is that many post-doctoral opportunities are limited to a time-frame within 3-5 years of finishing a PhD. However, we know, and understand, that these days it is unusual for archaeologists to be in a tenured/permanent position within this time-frame. Whilst there was a good intention behind the time-limit placed on post-docs, (i.e. to remove discriminating age limits and avoid people staying too long in precarious employment), the lack of tenured positions and the way the system currently works has, in effect, deprived a generation of its future and led to a draining of talent away from archaeology. There is also massive pressure on post-docs to deliver in a time-limited fashion, and the post-doc system is especially unreceptive to people who want to settle down and start a family.

Firstly, if this situation applies to you, we would like to hear from you. One of the aims of the ECA Community is to provide a voice for people facing this kind of predicament, as well as promoting an awareness that this is, unfortunately, common place and something that should be addressed. Secondly, we have collated some useful links that will hopefully help with finding positions, jobs, and opportunities. At the moment there is no ‘quick fix’ to this issue, but through this Community we hope to improve this in time.

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How do I find jobs, post-doctoral positions, grants, and funding opportunities?

Navigating the post-doctoral job market can be tricky and frustrating. However, we have collated some useful links that should hopefully help with this process, reducing the time and stress you exert on job-hunting!

We also recommend signing up to the mailing lists of institutions and specialist disciplines of archaeology as fully funded PhDs, post-doctoral research positions, jobs, funding opportunities, conferences and workshops, and publications/published research are often circulated through them. The list of research institutions is not exhaustive; so, if you cannot find what you are looking for, we recommend also using the internet to try and find your local research institution and/or the most appropriate research institute in the region/country where your fieldwork and research is based.

Another useful resource is the Mentoring Program we are establishing which will provide a way of bringing ECAs together to help each other as a community.

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What about conferences and symposia suitable for me as an ECA?

We would encourage all ECAs to attend and present at conferences, workshops, and symposia; this is a great way of disseminating your work and research, as well as networking for future collaborations, jobs, positions etc. After all, the ECA Community itself was initially founded through attendees of the EAA conferences!

Many sessions within conferences, as well as smaller symposia and workshops are organised by ECAs and the attendance and participation of ECAs (from postgraduate to post-doctoral level) is actively encouraged.

Some archaeological organisations hold regular (annual, or bi-annual) meetings at roughly the same time of year each time, and the dates of smaller one-off/semi-regular symposia/workshops are often circulated through mailing lists etc.

Many of the (larger) organisations provide cheaper attendance and membership fees for students and ECAs. However, attending conferences and symposia can still be unaffordable, especially when combined with travel and accommodation expenses if you do not have full-time funding or wages. Some conferences provide grants to attend conferences, but these are usually limited in number and restricted to those in full-time education (i.e. Masters or PhD students). These kinds of prohibitive costs are also something which the ECA Community wishes to highlight and address.

The ECA website, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds will also announce events and conferences etc.

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After completing my PhD, my library and online resource admission was rescinded. How do I continue to access academic resources and literature?

This is one of the most frustrating aspects when continuing your archaeological career post-PhD, especially when unemployed or based at an institution without a library and/or limited online journal access. However, there are ways to continue sourcing and accessing the resources and literature that you need. Two of the most obvious are Academia.edu and Researchgate where users often upload copies of their published work, and are also generally quite receptive to sending copies to you privately if a public version has not been uploaded to the websites. Some of the large(r) archaeological projects have a bibliography/digital library of publications of the excavations and research associated with the project. Groups of academics and researchers also often come together to assist each other in locating publications, including through the forum/message board section of this website (currently in development) and the ECA Facebook group.

Some alumnus societies of the universities where you studied offer free e-resource access after graduation, and we recommend getting in touch with your institution to check this. There are also some research institutions that have their own libraries which you can access as a visitor, but this often involves becoming a member and paying a small fee.

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Where and how can I publish my research?

Publishing your work and research is incredibly important whether you’re a postgraduate student, or a tenured academic nearing retirement. However, for many ECAs, who are often embarking on their first publication adventure, knowing where and how to publish their work can seem like a daunting task.

Many permanent/tenured positions in some countries require you to meet a certain point threshold to become an assistant professor, for example. These points are often calculated not only by the number of publications, but also where they have been published. Even at institutions, or in countries where a points total isn’t calculated, attention is often paid to where your work has been published and is weighted as such when applying for jobs/funding. Therefore, it is important to understand and be aware of internationally recognised and ranked journals. Scimago is a website that allows you to search for journals and book series by subject area and category and then view them in order of their ranking – from Q1 (the highest) to Q4 (the lowest).

It is also important to find a journal with a theme appropriate for your research/topic. As well as using Scimago to find suitable journals/book series, Doug Rocks-Macqueen has created a list of the main journals with an archaeological focus. The ECA Community Mentoring Program is another way in which ECAs will be able to get further advice and assistance about publishing.

Also, when you publish something please get in touch with us so we can promote it through the website and our Facebook and Twitter feeds!

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