Wellcome Trust Basic Science Career Tracker


Each year, members of the cohorts receive a short online survey asking about their career intentions and development. New cohorts are added to the tracker each year as grantholders enter their final year, while former awardees continue to receive the survey annually. The Wellcome Trust Evaluation Team also supplements the data with web-based research to identify the employment sector and location of those who have not responded to the survey.

Since its launch, the Basic Science Career Tracker (BSCT) has achieved a very high annual response of around 80 per cent. One of the key challenges in carrying out cohort-based tracking is ensuring that the response rate remains high; we are working to secure high levels of participation by raising awareness of the value of the tracker to Wellcome and ensuring the content is as interactive and engaging as possible, both to those participating and to other stakeholders.

Who are we tracking?

The BSCT currently surveys people in the final year of funding and former grantholders of the following schemes:

  • Basic Science PhD Studentships, in which students are funded through structured four-year PhD programmes
  • NIH PhDs (included from 2013), in which postgraduate students undertake international, collaborative four-year PhD training based in both the UK or Republic of Ireland and the USA at the National Institutes of Health campus
  • Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships, early-career fellowships for promising newly qualified postdoctoral researchers
  • Research Career Development Fellowships, intermediate career fellowships allowing postdoctoral researchers to become independent
  • International Senior Research Fellowships, senior fellowships for researchers working in central Europe and India
  • Career Re-entry Fellowships (included from 2013), for postdoctoral scientists who have recently decided to recommence a scientific research career after a break of at least two years.

Data trees by sector 

Basic Science Career Tracker data trees by sector [PDF 131KB] provide a pictorial representation of three PhD cohorts who started their awards between the years of 2003/04 and 2006/07.

The data trees examine the relative proportions – by gender – of those in academia or outside. The 2003/04 cohort was the earliest to be included in our BSCT. 

There are two data trees for each cohort.

  • The 'block coloured' data trees illustrate the cohort as a whole.
  • The 'lined' data trees represent each individual former grantholder's career path as a separate line showing their movements both in academia and outside.

Data trees by geographical location

Basic Science Career Tracker data trees by geographical location [PDF 3MB] illustrate a breakdown of the 2003-04 PhD cohort, showing which country individuals are working in, by gender, sector and nationality.

Each line represents a former grantholder's geographical movement. The 2003-04 cohort was the first to be included in our BSCT.

Qualitative study: Risks and rewards – career perspectives

We commissioned a qualitative study from Ipsos MORI in 2012 to explore the motivations and attitudes to career choices among former Wellcome-funded Basic Science PhD students.

We also investigated the reasons for the marked and different exit points from academic research for women PhD graduates compared to men.

Read the full report –  Risks and rewards: how PhD students choose their careers [PDF 1007KB]

Basic Science Career Tracker reports and data

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 6 (2014) [PDF 811KB]

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 5 (2013) [PDF 1.7MB]

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 4 (2012) [PDF 155KB]

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 3 (2011) [PDF 188KB]

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 2 (2010) [PDF 984KB]

Wellcome Trust basic science career tracker: results of wave 1 (2009) [PDF 223KB]