ESF Member Organisation Forum on European Alliance on Research Career Development



EARCD is a Strategic Forum that brings together experts from national research funding organisations and non-University RPOs, interacting with European level organisations, in particular the ERA Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility, ERC, LERU, EUA, ALLEA.
The group has a track record of collaborating on developing and implementing research career strategies built on mutual trust. EARCD has operated as an ESF Member Organisation Forum since 2010. It developed directly from a recommendation of the previous MO-Forum on Research Careers (2007-2009) published in the ESF report ‘Research Careers in Europe – Landscape and Horizons’ (2009). There has been a significant continuity in membership between the two forums.

Rationale and current priorities

The EUROHORCS-ESF ERA Roadmap section on Research Careers was directly influenced by the work of the ESF MO Forum (2007-2009). In turn the vision for research careers and the actions of the Roadmap formed the basis of the activity of the EARCD.
In line with the Roadmap the EARCD aims to adopt a common strategy to ensure the attractiveness of research careers and thereby to create and improve European-level and coordinated national policies and programmes for different career stages and career paths.
Achievements to date from both forums include recommendations on a number of areas, such as a joint taxonomy for research careers, improving attractiveness of research careers, research skills, and the development of a European Alliance for Research Career Development. Current activities include a report on career tracking methods, work on a pan-European professional development framework, guidelines on mobility policies, and a joint European Framework for Careers with the European Commission.
The EARCD current priorities are laid out as an action plan in the three areas of Research Careers, Skills and Mobility.

Recent activity of the EARCD

The results from EARCD actions will be published in late 2012. Key areas of activity which will be reported are:

  • Survey of EARCD members: This investigated the respective organisations’ policies and promising practices with reference to the focus areas of the Forum. The results pointed out that ESF Member Organisations: 1) need to rethink the Mobility concept 2) need to start ’career tracking’ exercises 3) need to implement the Careers Framework.
  • European Framework for Research Careers: The survey has shown that ESF member organisations are either on route to adopting the framework or have their own framework in place that needs to be synchronised. 
  • Career Tracking: An international pioneering workshop “How to track researchers’ careers” on career tracking systems was co-sponsored with FNR Luxembourg and held in Luxembourg on 9/10 February 2012. The report (to be published autumn 2012) will provide a framework for future career tracking studies and advocates a joint initiative to promote career tracking studies across Europe.
  • Researchers' Professional Development: A pilot project, to assess the applicability across Europe of a generic framework for the professional development of researchers based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) has been completed. The report (to be published autumn 2012) underlines that the Vitae RDF can be used as good practice example, validates the relevance of the RDF for researchers across Europe and makes recommendations on next steps – including by the European Commission.
  •  Mobility: The Forum will advocate at least four major forms of mobility (geographic, intersectoral, interdisciplinary, virtual) based on a workshop held in May 2012. The results will be published in a paper ‘New Concepts of Mobility’.

Progress on these EARCD actions has been shared with DG Research and Innovation and its ERA Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility. This has helped to achieve coordination of EARCD activities with those of the Commission. For example the Forum addressed the skills development and career tracking of researchers, while the Commission has addressed the European Framework for Research Careers, the portability of grants, and the HR Strategy for Researchers. This co-ordination has been assisted by cross-membership of two ERA SGHRM members with the EARCD Steering Group.

Strategic Alignment

With Action 2 of the EUROHORCs and ESF Vision on a Globally Competitive ERA and their Road Map for Actions

For more information please contact mo-fora[at]