We use cookies on this website. By continuing to use this site without changing your cookie settings, you agree that you are happy to accept our cookies and for us to access these on your device. Find out more about how we use cookies and how to change your cookie settings.

Wellcome Trust Basic Science Career Tracker


The Wellcome Trust Evaluation Team launched the Basic Science Career Tracker (BSCT) in 2009 to track the career destinations of selected cohorts of Wellcome Trust-funded researchers and to provide the Trust with an understanding of the career choices of those we fund. The Tracker is also designed to help inform the Wellcome Trust's provision of research and career support.

Career Tracker terminology

When exploring the data, you will see that respondents are analysed by Award, Cohort and Wave.

  • The 'Award' refers to the type of Wellcome Trust grant received.
  • The 'Cohort' refers to the financial year in which the researcher received their award. For example, the 2003/04 cohort started their PhDs in the financial year 2003/04 and finished their awards in 2008.
  • The 'Wave' refers to the survey from which the data have been taken. For example, Wave 1 was the first Basic Science Career Tracker survey and was sent out in 2009. Since then, we have sent out one survey Wave each year.


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 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 the Wellcome Trust 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

The Wellcome Trust Data Trees 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 Basic Science Career Tracker.

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.

View the Data Trees

Download the Data Trees [PDF 280KB]

Data Trees by geographical location

Former PhD students (cohort 2003/2004) - geographical mobility [PDF 3MB]: These Wellcome Trust Data Trees 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 Basic Science Career Tracker.

Career Tracker summary 2013

Download a summary of the Career Tracker so far [PDF 270KB], including background, methodology, selected results and a list of the schemes that we are currently tracking.

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 Trust-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 1MB]

Basic Science Career Tracker reports and data

Explore the BSCT summary reports analysing data from Waves 1-6.

Our Wave 6 report is our most recent findings from 2014.

Wave 6 (2014)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 812KB]
Wave 5 (2013)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 1.70MB]
Wave 4 (2012)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 156KB]

Basic Science PhD Studentship

Sector (inside/outside academia) - Data Trees [PDF 280KB]
Country currently based [PDF 410KB]
Employment status [PDF 410KB]

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (SHWPF)

Research activities, achievements and outputs [PDF 410KB]

Research Career Development Fellowship (RCDF)

Sector (inside/outside academia) [PDF 410KB]

International Senior Research Fellowship (ISRF)

Sector (inside/outside academia) [PDF 410KB]
Academic level [PDF 410KB]
Wave 3 (2011)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 546KB]
Wave 2 (2010)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 1MB]
Wave 1 (2009)
click to expand
Summary report [PDF 200KB]

These are highlights of our Career Tracker data. If you would like to see more of our data in anonymous aggregate form, or have any questions for the Evaluation Team, please email surveys@wellcome.ac.uk.

Page last updated in December 2013.

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888