Research careers in Europe

The study aimed to analyse the prevailing research career management practices in Europe, focusing on the following three specific topics:

  • the perception of research careers in Europe and how to increase their effectiveness;
  • how dual-careers are currently being dealt with in Europe and which measures could be implemented to make progress on this matter;
  • the state-of-play of career restart opportunities within Europe and how to improve related strategies to better match the needs of researchers resuming their research career after a break.

The study on research careers in Europe was dedicated to analysing the existing information and generating new empirical evidence on the selected topics of research careers. For this purpose authors of the study compiled an inventory and carried out a qualitative analysis of previous and ongoing EU, national and international studies, evaluations and similar information sources providing with evidence on topics mentioned above. In addition to desk research and analysis of administrative and monitoring data on Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and its predecessor FP7 Marie Curie actions, a series of interviews with EU-level officials and national stakeholders as well as representatives of research organisations and researchers themselves were carried out. Overall, in the course of the entire interview programme, a series of 48 in-depth interviews were conducted, feeding to both preparation of 10 case studies and study report writing. In addition, an extensive survey programme, addressing individual researchers (N=3,904), research performing organisations (N=1,572) and national stakeholders representing both EU Member States and Associated Countries (N=61) was carried out. All three surveys were conducted with an aim to collect the first-hand information from actors involved directly in development and application of relevant research career management strategies as well as those exposed to outcomes of the practices implemented. Given that an extensive amount of qualitative data was collected in the course of this project, the NVivo 10 software was used in order to analyse the content of this qualitative data in a combined and systemic way. At the end of the project a validation seminar attended by 50 participants from across Europe (including stakeholders, officials from the Commission services and authors of the study) was organised.

Findings and recommendations of the study will be used by the European Commission for determining the extent and approach through which the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions of Horizon 2020 may further contribute to stimulating commitment towards research careers and to support attractive employment and working conditions for researchers in Europe.

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