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Tender: Study on Career Impacts of European Research Council Funding


Belgium, 29 July 2016

 

Set up in 2007 by the European Union, the European Research Council (ERC) aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age from anywhere in the world.

As part of Horizon 2020, the EU programme for research and innovation for 2014 to 2020, the ERC has a total budget of over €13 billion. The budget allocated to the ERC under the Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development (FP7) was €7.5 billion. The ERC has an ‘investigator-driven’, ‘bottom-up’ approach, which allows researchers to identify new opportunities in any field of research (Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences and Social Sciences and Humanities). On the sole basis of excellence, the ERC provides attractive long-term funding to individual top scientists and their teams to pursue ground-breaking research.

ERC funded projects are expected to lead to scientific advances and to set clear and inspirational targets for frontier research across the world. By supporting the brightest minds, the ERC grants help to bring about new and unpredictable scientific and technological discoveries in Europe.

The primary aim of the study is to provide a comprehensive overview of the impact that ERC funding has on the careers of the ERC PIs and their teams, with a focus on younger researchers. The study shall provide insights on the impact on career advancement, but also on the type of careers that team members embark on after the end of the project.

Although career development is not the primary objective of the ERC funding programme (which focuses first and foremost on supporting excellent scientific research at the frontiers of knowledge), the implicit assumption is that researchers who achieve outstanding research results will as a consequence benefit from career advancement. This study is intended to provide information as to whether and to what extent this implicit assumption is justified.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows:

  • collect information concerning the career path and career development of the ERC PIs and their team members during and after their participation in the ERC project;

  • provide a systematic account of the role played by the ERC funding in shaping the professional careers of the ERC PIs and their team members and identify long-lasting elements of ERC impact (using carefully identified control groups to allow counterfactual analysis);

  • place the impact of ERC funding concerning the careers of the PIs and their teams in a proper context by, on the one hand, taking into account various factors influencing career advancement that may occur simultaneously with the ERC support and, on the other hand, finding suitable terms of comparison with other funding agencies for similar types of grants;

  • search for human-capacity spill-over effects of ERC funding on the economy and the society at large as a result of ERC team members’ career destination;

  • provide a policy-relevant analysis of the impact of ERC funding on the ERC teams as units linked to a research activity;

  • identify elements of ERC impact on the human-resources policies and practices in the organisations hosting the ERC PIs and their teams.

It is important to point out that this study is not an evaluation study in the usual sense of an evaluation of an EU intervention5. The aim of the study is not to provide any specific recommendations on how to change the programme in order to better support the career advancement of ERC PIs and team members. However, the Contractor may be invited to propose areas for further study related to the career impact of ERC funding should the results of the analysis point in a particular direction.

Scope

The impact of ERC funding on careers shall be measured at three levels:

  • the individual researchers involved in ERC projects, focussing on the one hand on the PIs and on the other hand on the team members, especially those at the early stages of their (research) career;

  • the ERC teams as units linked to a research activity;

  • the ERC host institutions and their policies and practices related to the promotion of the careers of their researchers.

Tasks

  • Literature review and definition of control groups 

  • Online survey 

  • Analysis of the impact of ERC funding on the careers of ERC PIs and team members 

  • Analysis of the impact of ERC funding on ERC teams as units linked to a research activity

  • Analysis of the impact of ERC funding on the policies and practices of ERC host institutions 

  • Validation workshop 

  • Identification of areas for further study

 

Submission Deadline: 19 September 2016

Also view the ECN Procurement Notice (accessible by ECN Executive Members - Login to View)

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