Supervision, mentorship and peer networks: how Estonian early career researchers get (or fail to get) support


  • Jaana Eigi University of Tartu
  • Katrin Velbaum University of Tartu
  • Endla Lõhkivi University of Tartu
  • Kadri Simm University of Tartu
  • Kristin Kokkov University of Tartu



early career, PhD student, supervision, mentorship, support network


The paper analyses issues related to supervision and support of early career researchers in Estonian academia. We use nine focus groups interviews conducted in 2015 with representatives of social sciences in order to identify early career researchers’ needs with respect to support, frustrations they may experience, and resources they may have for addressing them. Our crucial contribution is the identification of wider support networks of peers and colleagues that may compensate, partially or even fully, for failures of official supervision. On the basis of our analysis we argue that support for early career researchers should take into account the resources they already possess but also recognise the importance of wider academic culture, including funding and employment patterns, and the roles of supervisors and senior researchers in ensuring successful functioning of support networks. Through analysing the conditions for the development of early career researchers – producers of knowledge – our paper contributes to social epistemology understood as analysis of specific forms of social organisation of knowledge production.


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