ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Careers



Launched in November 2007, and extended to April 2010, the ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Careers has served as a joint platform for the exchange of views and experience and for the development of strategy concepts to be applied at national and supranational level. The Forum has provided an interface for ESF Member Organisations (MOs), the European Commission and universities in Europe represented by the European University Association and the League of European Research Universities.

The idea in establishing the Forum was to build on existing experience and previous successful interactions between MOs. Members of the International Management Committee of the European Young Investigator (EURYI) Award and the informal European Network on Research Careers (ENRC) took the initiative to start the Forum. It has also built on the observation that the promotion of research careers is key to the activities of all ESF Member Organisations, including research-funding organisations as well as research-performing organisations.

Aims & Objectives

  • to develop a Road map for research career development in Europe and by this means
  • to create or improve coordinated national and European-level policies and programmes aimed at promoting different career stages
  • and eventually to raise the international visibility of the ERA as a common labour market for researchers.

 Strategic Alignment


In order to address the complexity and breadth of this topic, the Forum organised its work between different working groups. Each working group defined its own focus areas and developed differentiated workshops, meetings, surveys, etc.

The outcomes of the mapping exercises and identification of good practices are built around those subgroups. The Forum has developed an implementation plan which will form the backbone of its future activities; in particular, it has recommended a set of joint actions to be taken:

  • structuring of research careers;

  • improving the attractiveness and competitiveness of European research careers;

  • providing “equal playing fields” for researchers of all backgrounds;

  • supporting the development of “portfolio careers”;

  • developing and implementing European policies for research career development


On 14th January 2010, the Final Report of the Forum, Research Careers in Europe Landscape and Horizons: A Report by the ESF Member Forum on Research Careers, was delivered.

This report includes a set of recommendations and issues to be addressed in the future in the Research Careers field. The structure of the report follows the work developed around the three main topics identified by the Forum to address the complexity and breadth of Research Careers. Each topic was examined by a specific Working Group.

  • Working Group 1: Conditions of a Research Career in Europe

    • Subgroup 1A: Research Career Structure and Development
    • Subgroup 1B: Gender Issues

  • Working Group 2: Human Resources Development Transferable skills

The analysis and the conclusion drafted by these Working Groups are the basis of this report that builds on the recommendations proposed by the Forum and acts as the evidence based on them. Those recommendations are stated at the beginning of the report as the Forum Declaration:

  • Development of a Joint Taxonomy for Research Careers
  • Improving the attractiveness and competitiveness of European research careers through Flexisecurity    
  • Providing ‘equal playing fields’ for researchers of all backgrounds through a new ‘scientific quality’ approach  
  • Supporting the development of ‘portfolio careers’ by introducing a joint skills statement
  • Developing and implementing European policies for research career development by establishing a European Alliance for Research Career Development


The work of the MO Forum was directed by the Chair, Beate Scholz, together with the ESF coordinator (Neil Williams, succeeded by Laura Marin in April 2009), in cooperation with the Steering Committee.  In addition to the subgroup chairs (Eero Vuorio, Susanne Matuschek and Iain Cameron), the Steering Committee was comprised of external advisors (Martin Hynes and Zsolt Kajcsos) and permanent guests (Massimo Serpieri, European Commission, Lidia Borrell and John Smith (both from EUA)).    

For more information please contact mo-fora[at]