Longitudinal study of physicists' careers

In 2005, the Institute of Physics commissioned a five-year longitudinal study of physics graduates to identify and track the career development of physicists over the first four years following graduation.

Between 2006 and 2010, final-year physics students were asked to complete a survey on their intentions after graduation. Graduates were then re-contacted on an annual basis by e-mail and invited to edit and augment the information to allow us to chart the paths they had taken.

We have gathered information from 5737 final year undergraduates from 55 institutions, 46 in the UK and nine in Ireland. We estimate this represents a response rate of 35–40% of all physics graduates in this period.

Through the study we have had the opportunity of examining the career development of graduates from non-traditional groups, including women, ethnic minorities, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with a disability – information vital to form the basis of projects aimed at encouraging participation in physics from a wider, more diverse community.

We have prepared a summary report of the findings.

More in-depth analysis can be found in the datasheets and interim reports.

The findings of the study will contribute to the Institute’s work to promote physics to young people and inform the careers advice that is given to current physics students about the many and varied careers open to them.