The HRS4R approach at AMU

DRV-UE illustration HRS4R

AMU has officially committed to the "HR excellence in research" label - HRS4R - in June 2019. The new team, elected in 2020, reaffirmed this objective in February following its election. In order to attract the world's best researchers, encourage young people to pursue scientific careers and make the European Research Area more attractive by improving working conditions for researchers worldwide, the European Commission published the "European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers" in 2005. The implementation of the 40 principles will now be formalised in the Institution's internal procedures.

Context and challenges of the approach

The HRS4R label is awarded by the European Commission to institutions committed to the implementation of the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct.
In the HRS4R approach, the term researcher is to be understood in the broadest sense: researchers, teacher-researchers, post-doctoral students, PhD students. It includes statutory and contractual staff. The European Commission classifies them according to their level of experience from R1 to R4 (see box).

Once the official launch has been announced, the Institution has 12 months to propose its action plan. Although ambitious, the HRS4R approach will nonetheless remain realistic, relying heavily on existing resources. Analysis, diagnosis and action plan will be carried out in accordance with national legislation and will be deployed as a continuation of the work of the master plans and actions already implemented within the establishment.

AMU must therefore submit its file before 12 February 2021.



Why commit to labelling?

At the level of the establishment:

  • Tomeet the requirements of European programs: before the end of 2020: To respect the contractual obligations of the projects supported under Horizon 2020 and meet the criteria of the calls. From the launch of Horizon Europe (2021-2028): label promoting the granting of European funding, particularly in the framework of Marie Sklodovska Curie mobility actions and facilitating the respect of the contractual obligations of institutions obtaining European grants (for example, in terms of obligations related to the promotion of gender equality).
  • Reinforce AMU's international attractiveness
  • Join the European establishments already labelled: AMU is the only A*Midex establishment without the label or not involved in the process. More than 560 establishments in Europe (most of our CIVIS partner universities, including more than thirty in France with the label (including CNRS, Inserm, around twenty universities)
  • Displaying a strong and coherent internal HR political will in continuity with the projects already launched, in particular the Human Resources Master Plan, Digital Master Plan, Quality of Life at Work Plan, Objectives of the establishment contract, etc. and the objectives of the new presidential team focused on improving the quality of life and work within AMU for its students and staff.

At the level of the researcher :

  • Individually improve the conditions for carrying out research:
  • Strengthen respect for ethical principles and professional responsibilities
  • Ensuring greater transparency in recruitment, career development and mobility
  • Reaffirming a commitment to working and safety conditions and the working environment
  • Reaffirming a trainingpolicy


Deployment of the approach3 phases

HRS4R labelling is a structuring and long-term commitment process

Organised in three phases, this project mobilises and has a major impact on the entire scientific community of the site and the AMU support departments:

  • Phase 1: Initial (12 months from the university's reengagement following the election of the new governance team: 1 June 2019 - 12 February 2021) - preparation of the file to obtain the label - launch of the working groups.
  • Phase 2: Implementation phase (5 years from June 2021) - implementation of the HR strategy and action plan
  • Phase 3: Renewal phase (6 years).

Public targeted by the AMU approach

The scope chosen by AMU is broad: permanent and contractual staff employed by the university and its subsidiary Protisvalor Méditerranée.

The action plan will be implemented for all the units of Aix Marseille University and will therefore have an impact on the entire scientific community of the site.



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The European framework for scientific careers establishes 4 profiles of researchers* :

  • R1 : first level researcher (up to PhD); e.g.: contractual PhD student; ATER, BIATSS civil servants or contractuals with a degree to start a PhD.
  • R2 : recognized researcher (doctor or equivalent not totally independent); e.g. Post Doc, ATER, BIATSS civil servants or contract workers with a research activity for at least 4 years or and a doctorate.
  • R3 : confirmed researcher (independent researcher - holder, scientific coordinator of a project); Ex: MCF/MCU PH, LRU researcher at MCF level; Associate at MCF level.
  • R4 : Principal Investigator/Leader (eminent researcher in his or her field). Ex: PR/PU PH, Astronomer physicist, LRU researcher PR level, Associate PR level.


* the term "researcher" is commonly used by the European Commission to refer to all scientists including PhD students, teacher-researchers, contract researchers, etc...



Milestones of the water preparation phase at AMU

  • 1st June 2019: sending of the letter from President Yvon Berland to the European Commission requesting the official engagement of AMU. EC agreement on 12 June 2019.
  • 27 June 2019 : Official launch the start of the process(PPT presentation)
  • July 2019: Survey to the scientific community - call for applications for participation in Working Groups
  • Early September 2019: formation of the WGs and launch of their work
  • 23 September: Kick-off meeting of the 5 working groups (PPT presentation)
  • December: end of work in WG: synthesis of the analysis carried out and first proposals for an action plan (Version 1)
  • January 2020: Election of new AMU governance and re-commitment of the University
    Following the election of the new governance team, the President of AMU re-engaged the university and its subsidiary in the HRS4R process with the European Commission, obtaining additional time to set up the new team.

  • 1st quarter 2020 : Synthesis work on the proposals made by the WGs
  • 2nd half of 2020: Integration of the priorities of the new AMU governance in the action plan, particularly in terms of QWL, commitment and responsibility, gender equality, researchers' careers.
  • December 2020: Validation of the action plan with the WG coordinators and the AMU governance.
  • January 2021: Presentation to the Trade Unions, AMU Bodies
  • 1 February 2021: General presentation to the whole scientific community (in visio)

The Working Groups

- WG 1: Accompaniment of doctoral students.AMUBox file
- WG 2: Recruitment and Career.AMUBox file.
- WG 3: Quality of life at work.AMUBox dossier.
- WG 4: Open Science. AMUBox dossier.
- WG 5: Reception and support for foreign researchers in mobility.AMUBox dossier.



    Contact information


    Human Resources Strategy for Researchers