Leaving the Academy: A Participatory Open Research Approach (Fall 2022)

We’re creating an open participatory research project to explore the experiences of people who have left academia. Come collaborate with us!

The first meeting will be on Sept 21, from 3 to 4pm ET, noon to 1pm PT.


About five years ago, Beth did a survey of women who had left academia and it was really well received. Since that study, Open Post Academics’ community has come together to talk more about the realities of the challenges of leaving academia.

Much of the research about folks who leave academia tends to be case studies. We think it would be good to better understand the realities of leaving, and to continue to gather advice and insights from folks who know what it’s like to have a post academic career.

In particular, since the pandemic, we’re noticing a shift in how folks talk about leaving academia. We want to understand this!

At Open Post Academics, we love participatory research and open work. This project will be an experiment in open participatory research!

Why does this matter?

People who are leaving academia are often isolated and often don’t know others who have left. We think that there is a need for more research on the stories and the realities of leaving. This information should be freely available and should speak to the needs of academics looking to other careers.

Our approach will be focused on qualitative survey research methods. We will make the process, data and final products of this research open. We believe that focused cross-disciplinary projects can have methodological specificity while welcoming the expertise of folks from diverse fields. We invite the expertise of post acs without qualitative research training to be a part of this project.

Why you might want to contribute

If you’d like to learn about how to do qualitative research, and work with others on research, this is a great chance to learn from folks in a collaborative and open setting. You don’t need any experience to do this work with us.

We also need folks who are just interested in the topic, and who will help us build outputs that meet the needs of people across the post academic community. Writing, design, and communications skills are welcome!

All of the responses to the survey will be open as well as the final research projects which means your responses to the survey will actually have an impact.

Collaborators will have an engaging experience of doing research in a team setting. All collaborators will be named, so it can be helpful for those looking to demonstrate research skills or collaboration experience. Plus, the data is gonna be really interesting.

Join us!

We would love for you to join us for our opening workshop if you’re interested in being a collaborator.

The first meeting will be on Sept 21, from 3 to 4pm ET, noon to 1pm PT.

More on the Participatory Process

The process will start by going over the survey and creating our instrument, we will pretest it and walk through a dissemination strategy and then we will meet to talk about our data analysis process.

Folks who are collaborators on this project will have the first chance to do the data analysis, which can be done collaboratively or independently. All data collection and products will be open by design.

On Openness

All of our data and our research products will be released under a CC BY 4.0 attribution license. The materials will remain available to anyone who wishes to do more with it. This will allow for research to continue in the future and to make it possible to extend from this work. It will also contribute to the need for open qualitative datasets.

Original Report: Duckles, Beth M. (2018). What I Wish I Had Known: Post Academic Women and Their Advice for Leaving the Academy. Zenodo.

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

Written by: Beth M. Duckles, PhD and Borhane Blili-Hamelin, PhD