Aleksandra Spalińska


Presented at the PSA ECN Annual Conference:

This piece discusses strategies, tips and tricks for building the academic profile for early career researchers (ECRs). I discuss participation in academic events, networking, getting published, developing a presence on social media, and service roles for the profession.


Events: conferences and workshops


There are different academic events that can help you  develop your research and get involved. Workshops are great for developing publications and getting to know people who share your interests. Some workshops are organised specifically to get published with the edited volume, or the special issue in a journal.

Conferences are better to learn about the new stuff and extend your networks. Beyond that, at the book exhibitions you can check out new titles in your field and sometimes even get a free copy. It is good to go for a workshop first and then attend a conference, then you can chat with a network of acquainted scholars.

Lots of academic associations offer travel grants and other funding. Considering travel, try to attend different events: from local to national and international to world-wide. Go for a national conference in a different country, especially if you specialise in affairs of this country. 

IR and political science have lots of big events, organised by the leading scholarly associations like ISA, EISA, IPSA, ECPR, EPSA, UACES, WISC or IPPA. These associations have research  sections and regional divisions that organise their own events and projects.

Beyond workshops and conferences, you can try summer or winter schools. They also are great places to network and to meet other ECRs. There are thematically specific summer schools (ECPR Sections) as well as methods schools (ECPR, IPSA).


Networking and getting involved


Always attend receptions and coffee breaks. Try to train yourself in the academic small talk -- instead of the weather, we talk research, projects and food! Networking is not just about exchanging business cards. The point is to bring value to others and yourself, and hence to create opportunities for all involved. That happens when you contribute to the discussions during a panel or when you have an idea to for a collaboration. During the conference panels, don't shy away from asking (relevant) questions and making (relevant) comments. Try to continue the discussion during the coffee break or lunch. Look out for the people you cite in your papers and those who inspire you. Academic events are a space for scholars from all career stages and that means you need to embrace the differences in backgrounds and experience. Moreover, you need to maintain the relationships with prominent scholars whose expertise can greatly contribute to your project.


Publications: academic and non-academic


To develop your writing and get more knowledge about your field, try book reviews. Journals like “International Affairs,” (IR, politics) or “Journal of Common Market Studies” (European studies) publish book reviews regularly.

Apply with your papers to the “meet the editors” events (like the one at the PSA and BISA conferences) or talk with the editors at conference book exhibitions. You can ask them about the relevance of your research to their journal and some journals are specifically welcoming for ECRs like “Political Studies Review.”

A way to publish early results are preprint servers like APSA or SocArxiv. Preprints are publicly available works in progress. Upon the publication, your paper will receive the DOI number, the time stamp and the publishing licence of your choice. Preprints are not peer-reviewed but “screened” by the editors against the basic standards of academic publication and originality. Journals usually accept the submissions of the preprints but be aware that the publishing policies may vary.

Non-academic publications are commentaries and essays that you can find in blogs and in outlets such as “The Loop” (ECPR), “The World Today” magazine (Chatham House), “Ideas for Europe” blog (UACES). You can also try to publish this kind of writing in policy outlets and think-tanks. You need to “pitch” your idea for an essay (which means sending a short abstract) to get in touch and check if your idea is interesting for the editors. You can also publish a thread on Twitter. Comment on the current events or some general issue within your expertise. Write a thread to present your research when you get published.


Social media: building your profile


Social media mostly used by academics are Twitter, LinkedIn and FB (some research networks have their groups there). Look for people who share your interests, relevant academic associations, institutions, journals and publishers. Be active and retweet other people's work -- that shows your interest in both the topic and in maintaining contact with the researcher.

You can promote your work on social media. Announce your forthcoming pubs, conference presentations, non-academic pieces, or other achievements. On Twitter, you can find calls for papers, applications or abstracts for prospective panels It is useful to keep an eye on the profiles and websites of key associations. Sign up for newsletters -- that's the easiest way to stay informed.


Service roles


Organising is a service role. You do this for other people, not only for yourself. You need to have a vision for the project but also be open to others and get the job done. Try to create win-win situations and have the alternative offers at hand. Stick to your commitments. Be ready to work outside working hours, especially before deadlines. As the organiser, you create opportunities for others and the prospects for novel ideas to develop.

When you have an idea for collaboration, reach out to others early. Starting early helps you to avoid time pressure, gives you space to improve your ideas, and allows you to find new people if anyone drops out.

Lastly, don’t shy away from calling out toxic behaviours. Maintain academic and non-academic friendships. Look for mentors who have substantial experience in teaching and supervising, and hence will understand that you're just learning. ECRs are supposed to learn, not just perform. 


Author bio:


I’m a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Warsaw. My organising experience embraces acting as a coordinator of the Multiplicity Research Programme. I have organised and co-organised two sections for the EISA PEC, EWIS workshop, and several panels for ISA Annual Convention and Millennium Journal Conference. Currently, I am working on my dissertation in which I examine new medievalism in the study of world politics.

More about  my work: Profile of Aleksandra Spalińska (

Twitter: @AleksandraSpal3