News, Announcements & Press Releases

20. May 2016 14:16

2016 Call for Expressions of Interest

Career Tracking Survey of Doctorate Holders

The European Science Foundation/Science Connect is inviting expressions of interest from universities and non-university research performing organisations as well as research funding organisations and philanthropic associations to take part in the next ESF/Science Connect Career Tracking Survey. The survey will explore the career trajectories of doctorate holders who have either graduated from, or were funded or employed by the participating organisations.

Tracking and monitoring researchers’ careers are important elements in order to assess the impact of investment in research career development and to analyse practices aimed at the development of research careers. The survey will contribute to the evidence building regarding the challenges and opportunities of research careers and to help research organisations to better tailor their doctoral education and career advice activities to researchers’ needs.

The ESF/Science Connect designed, peer reviewed and tested the questionnaire in the pilot study ‘Career Tracking of Doctorate Holders’ that was successfully completed in 2015. The following organisations took part: the AXA Research Fund, France, the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), Luxembourg, the Goethe Graduate Academy (GRADE), Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Switzerland, and TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, a co-sponsored programme of UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO.

Purposes of the survey

  • To provide participating organisations with anonymised top line data on their doctorate holders up to seven years after PhD completion;
  • To gather relevant demographic, career mobility and social and economic outcome data of the doctorate holders including skills utilisation patterns and transfers;
  • To use a tested online questionnaire containing international reference indicators and data for monitoring, evaluation and policy planning purposes;
  • To achieve a response rate of over 50% and an estimate of the willingness of respondents to engage in this exercise over time (longitudinally);
  • To allow different participating research organisations access to the anonymised data and conduct supplementary analyses;
  • To provide participating organisations with an analysis of aggregated trends.

The questionnaire

  • Focus on career tracking
  • User-friendly with around 50 concise questions
  • Structured into sections, e.g. demographics, mobility patterns, role, responsibilities and research outcomes
  • Space for doing sensitivity analysis of questions of interest, e.g. sectoral contact between academia and industry

Benefits for partner organisations

  • Assess the suitability of funding and the quality of training and working conditions offered during the doctoral phase and explore whether the quality of doctoral training was appropriate to researchers for the best career opportunities within or outside academia;
  • Create transparency and know-how about institutional workforce, jobs and career paths (Where are our researchers coming from? Where do our researchers go next? Are we providing them with suitable skills for the next steps? Which sectors of the economy do we serve?);
  • Inform about impact of doctoral programmes in view of their mission and objectives;
  • Help improve career destination guidance (raise awareness of the breadth of careers open to researchers; inform about employability in academia and outside);
  • Institutional competitiveness/profiling the institution;
  • Contribute to the better understanding of the international and inter-sectoral mobility as well as employment patterns of researchers throughout their careers;
  • Help understand and inform about occupational patterns of researchers, not only in academia but also industry, education, health and public administration, thus helping to make researchers contributions more visible to society;
  • Impact and accountability: What is the true value of a PhD?

Target respondents

The survey will be addressed to early career researchers whose PhD (or equivalent) was awarded by or funded by the participating organisations. The survey will cover doctorate holders up to seven years after PhD completion, at the R2 or R3 stage.

Deadline for expressions of interest

Interested participating organisations are invited to contact ctmp[at] by 20 June 2016.

Those ready to commit will be asked to subsequently submit their formal commitment and invited to a kick-off workshop in September 2016. 


Julia Boman
Science Officer
European Science Foundation
Phone: +33 (0)3 88 76 21 71
Email: ctmp[at]