AMU officially committed to the HRS4R label in June 2019. The new team elected in 2020 reaffirmed this commitment 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).
Why engage in labelling?
At the level of the Institution :
- Tomeet the requirements of European programmes: before the end of 2020: To respect contractual obligations // possible financial penalties and meet the criteria of the calls (CIVIS, COFUND). 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...
- Reinforce the international attractiveness of AMU : Recruitment, attractiveness, practices...
- 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, of which about thirty in France have been labelled (including CNRS, Inserm, about twenty universities)
- Demonstrate a strong and coherent internal HR policy in line with the projects already launched, in particular the Human Resources Master Plan, QVT Plan, etc.
At the level of the researcher :
- Individually improve the conditions in which research is carried out :
- Respect for ethical principles and professional responsibilities
- Transparency in recruitment, career development and mobility
- Attention to working and safety conditions and the working environment
- Affirmed Training Policy...
Once the official launch has been announced, the Establishment 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 14 February 2021.
- Firstanalysis of internal rules and practices with respect to the forty principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C) and the recruitment policy which must be open, transparent and merit-based (OTM-R). Macro" approach carried out by the Coordination Team to identify the main trends, strengths and weaknesses of AMU in terms of recruitment, career and quality of working life (rating).
- Survey-basedconsultation of the entire community on key issues
- In-depth reflection in the form of working groups around 5 key themes.
- Drafting of an action plan
Organization and Methodology at AMU :
AMU has chosen a project-based organisation, based on a steering committee, a project team, a coordination committee and 5 thematic working groups, drawn from the research community. (see PPT presentation of the launch of the WGs for details of the organisation and methodology). In view of the preparatory work carried out by the project team (pre-analysis of the situation at AMU, the establishment's priorities, responses to the AMU internal survey, points of attention from the European Commission, etc.), the work was structured around 5 strategic themes for the establishment :
WG 1: Support for doctoral students
- Doctoral students are a full-fledged target of the HRS4R (R1). They are an important issue of European research policy (initial training, strengthening the European Research Area) and of the HRS4R (strengthening the attractiveness of the research profession and high level skills). The Marie Sklodoska Curie actions, for which a series of actions explicitly target young researchers (Innovative Training Networks - ITNs), are those for which the HRS4R label could become mandatory/selective for the Horizon Europe programme.
The Establishment Contract devotes a specific section to actions for doctoral students (for example: doctoral student's guide and supervisor's guide, international co-direction of the thesis; setting up of the doctoral student's house; better professional integration of doctoral students). In terms of international attractiveness, doctoral students are also a priority target of the institutional strategy: the University must continue its efforts to improve the proportion of international doctoral students in the overall workforce (approx. 39% at AMU compared to 41% at the national level).
AMU and the Doctoral College have experimented, thanks to the European project COFUND DOC2AMU, with new modalities of recruitment, training based on the principles of the innovative European doctorate (the 3I: intersectoriality, interdisciplinarity and international dimension of the doctoral student), training content (initial training and training on transversal and transferable skills), doctoral projects and individual support. AMU is also committed to extending these principles, as far as possible, to the community of doctoral students on the site and to be a driving force in our region for the promotion of these good practices.
WG 2: Recruitment and Career and WG 3: Quality of Life at Work
- With more than 8000 agents, the staff represents one of the main assets of the University of Aix-Marseille. The jobs and career prospects offered by the institution must be legible and attractive both nationally and internationally. AMU is committed, through its establishment contract and several master plans (HR, disability, quality of life at work plan, gender equality, etc.), to a process of continuous improvement of its human resources.
The attractiveness of careers depends first and foremost on recruitment processes that guarantee the visibility of job offers, standardize selection methods and strengthen the traceability of the recruitment process.
In a context where careers are broken down into successive phases (contractual doctoral student, ATER or postdoc, teacher-researcher, BIATSS ANT then civil servant, etc.), once recruited, staff support plays a major role because it is the keystone of successful research :
Accompaniment means enabling staff members joining AMU to learn how the institution works and how to carry out their missions, to benefit from an assertive training policy as well as working and safety conditions and an adapted and efficient professional environment. (SDRH, Accueillir et Intégrer, Développer et former)
Accompanying also means enabling public employees to develop in a variety of career paths and to seize new opportunities such as mobility. (SDRH, Accompanying and developing)
WG 4: Open Science
- The research and innovation policy pursued by Commissioner Moedas focuses on the ³c30s³d: Open Science, Open innovation and Open to the world. European initiatives have been launched to strengthen Open Science: the launch of pilot projects in Horizon 2020, legal developments around copyright, policy recommendations (FAIR principles), launch of the European Open Science Cloud, Horizon Europe's transversal axis, etc.
Open Science is now a key theme in the context of European labelling and the preparation of the future Horizon Europe programme. Thus, the report "Open Science Policy Platform", which sets out the 8 priorities for the effective implementation of open science in the practices of researchers and institutions, explicitly calls for making the HRS4R label conditional on the implementation of practices that promote the implementation of open science within institutions. This is also a subject of attention for the HRS4R evaluators.
AMU is developing an ambitious policy in favour of Open Science, within a favourable national context (Appel de Jussieu, National Plan for Open Science). This is marked by achievements such as those made by the Common Documentation Service (setting up the HAL AMU open archive and the Odyssey digital library, support for open science support infrastructures, support for bibliodiversity), the actions carried out by the Scientific Culture Unit, the international influence provided by the UMS Open Edition Center (CLEO),operator of the main European platform for publications in SHS Openedition, participation in European pilot research projects, which can only succeed because the data on which they are based are open data (in particular the Fet Flagship Human Brain Project), etc.
The establishment contract included the development of a policy for the management and opening up of its research data, in line with the success of HAL-AMU, as a development axis around open science. In this respect, the launch of the Research Data Group, within the framework of the digital master plan, is consistent with this labelling approach.
WG 5: Reception and support of foreign researchers in mobility
- One of the major challenges of the HRS4R label is to help strengthen the attractiveness and international influence of the establishments that enter the process, by improving their internal procedures and being more open, particularly in recruitment.
The attractiveness of AMU and its internationalisation are major challenges for our establishment. Numerous actions contribute to this: A*MIDEX strategy, international policy, participation in European research programmes, application for the European universities project, IMERA, membership of Euraxess France in 2017 and deployment of the actions and services associated with it around the counter dedicated to the public of researchers in the process of being finalised, etc.
Nevertheless, the recruitment rate of foreign contractual and statutory researchers is below the national average. Likewise, the conditions of reception of foreign researchers and teacher-researchers are not optimal. This is one of the recurrent negative points raised during laboratory visits organised by the central services. It was also raised by the mid-term review of the DOC2AMU project.
Five working groups were set up in September 2019; their conclusions (inventory and action plans) were then presented in December 2019. More than 100 actions were reported and were synthesized by the project team into 25 actions.
Finalization of the Dossier
These actions emanating from the WGs have been enriched by the priorities of the new governance.
The proposed action plan now includes 36 actions organized in 9 chapters:
- Recruitment: 4 actions
- Career support: 9 shares
- Quality of life at work: 7 actions
- Focus PhD students: 5 shares
- Home Foreign Researchers: 2 shares
- Open Science: 2 shares
- Gender Equality: 3 actions
- Ethics & Scientific Integrity: 2 shares
- Visibility of the HRS4R strategy: 2 shares
- File HRS4R: AMU letter November 2019
- HRS4R page on the Euraxess website:
- European Charter for Researchers
- the 40 principles
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...
- 1 June 2019:President Yvon Berland 's letter to the European Commission requesting AMU's official endorsement letter. Agreement of the EC 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: formation of WGs
- 23 September: Kick-off meeting of the 5 working groups (PPT presentation)
- December: end of work in WG: 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 AMU's new governance into the action plan, particularly in terms of QWL, commitment and responsibility, equality.
- December 2020: validation phase of the action plan with the WG coordinators and 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.
Deployment of the approach
A structuring and long-term commitment process
Organised in three phases, this project mobilises the entire scientific community and the AMU Support Departments (a project led by the HRD, the DRV and the DFD) through consultations and working groups to draw up the action plan:
- Phase 1: Initial (12 months from 1 June 2019) - preparation of the dossier for obtaining the label - launch of the working groups.
- Phase 2: Implementation phase (5 years from June 2020) - implementation of the HR strategy and action plan
- Phase 3: Renewal phase (6 years).