History Lab Plus/Royal Historical Society: Employing Temporary Teaching Staff in History

As History Lab Plus has expanded its remit over the last few years, we have collaborated with a range of institutions and professional organisations to ensure a voice for early-career historians in wider discussions about the future of the discipline, on issues including open-access publishing, postdoctoral funding and employment and postgraduate training, amongst many others. One issue, however, which has been raised by our members more than any other has been the proliferation of short-term temporary teaching contracts and the extent to which the development and well-being of early-career historians is taken seriously. As a new academic year starts, we know that this issue is at the forefront of many of our minds.

We were therefore delighted to work with the Royal Historical Society to draft Employing Temporary Teaching Staff in History: Code of Good Practice (click for pdf.), which is being sent to all Heads of Department (or equivalent) in the UK this week. This short document arose from discussions between History Lab Plus and the Royal Historical Society. It is based on the results of a survey of over 200 postdocs and research students carried out by History Lab Plus in late 2012, asking about their experiences as early career historians. The results indicated that for those on short-term teaching contracts a few simple things, such as being included on email lists and invited to seminars, could make a big difference to their experience of a department. We hope that this Code of Good Practice will serve as a helpful reminder of policies that can help temporary teachers, many of whom will become permanent academics and all of whom are crucial to the vitality and high standards of the profession. It has been endorsed by the RHS, History Lab Plus and History UK.

The Code will be regularly reviewed and we welcome any comments and/or suggested changes. Please send these to Jane Gerson, Research & Communications Officer at j.gerson@ucl.ac.uk

Please do also feel free to add comments or suggestions to this post or get in touch with History Lab Plus and we will pass on your ideas to the RHS. We hope this will lead to further discussion of the experiences of postdoctoral teachers in History.

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