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On 5th April 2016, the Rector of the University of Valencia (UV) signed a letter, addressed to the European Commission, endorsing the Declaration of Commitment to the Principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers. The reception of the letter was acknowledged by the European Commission by letter of 26th May 2016.

Since that date, the University of Valencia has performed a thorough and deep reflection to assess to which extent current practices are in line with the Principles of the Chart and Code of Conduct. The result of this reflection has been translated into the mandatory Gap Analysis and the corresponding Action Plan. Beyond the strict fulfilment of the requested forms, the exercise has had several spin-offs in the form of objective organisational benefits, namely:

  • A comprehensive and critical review of the current administrative practice and cultural approach to recruitment of researchers within the limits of the National and Regional legislation in force
  • The involvement of all relevant actors, departments and services in the exercise, both through the representation bodies or directly through a general consultation
  • The increased awareness on the importance of the Principles of the Charter and Code
  • The commitment to progress in those areas identified as requiring further improvement

The Gap analysis was, in a first instance, carried out by the Supervisory Committee, chaired by the Vice-Rector for Research and Scientific Policy, Prof. Pilar Campins, by appointment of the Rector. Other members of the Committee were representatives of the UV’s Management, Research Service, Human Resources Services and representatives of the four categories of Researches R1 to R4 as required by the HRS4R guidelines. The Gap analysis report is available in Management, Procedures and Regulations Section, 1.1. Additional documents.

A Working Group was also established carrying out technical tasks aimed at collecting information and managing the consultation process of the Gap Analysis.

The Committee produced a first draft of the Gap Analysis, with identification of relevant legislation and regulation in force, collection of current practice and initial assessment of the degree of fulfilment of each Principle and the OTM-R check-list.

That draft was then made public through the UV’s web-based Bulletin Board and publicised to all UV’s staff, students and other personnel of the University for comments. The results were collected, digested and consolidated by the Supervisory Committee and the changes introduced accordingly into the Gap Analysis.

From the Gap Analysis, main progress areas and corrective actions were identified as follows:

- Ethical and Professional aspects

The UV meets well the Principles of this heading. Both Legislation in force, UV’s regulations as well as the UV’s tradition reflected in its Mission, Vision and Values statements provide a well consolidated framework for ethical and responsible research. At the same time, there is a need to compile existing written norms, current practice and recommendations for improvement into a comprehensive document of Good Practice of Research, of which a first embryonic text will be soon adopted by the UV Governing Board. Other accompanying actions concern a better dissemination policy and a revision and update of the existing standards to respond to changing and emerging needs, among others. Adhesion to the FAIR principles, promotion of laboratory certifications will also be promoted and reinforced.

- Recruitment

The UV is bound by general Legislation concerning the recruitment of personnel in public institutions. This legislation establishes a very clear framework where equal opportunities, merit-based selection, publicity and non-discrimination are overarching principles. The same legislation also limits the margin for manoeuvre for implementing some of the Principles, namely concerning the CV valorisation. However, UV should be more pro-active in giving publicity to the vacancies beyond the strict minimum established by law, particularly in English and using other channels than the regulated ones, as well as being more pro-active in the use of EURAXESS.

- Working conditions and Social Security

Again, Legislation in force establishes very clear and stringent norms concerning working conditions and social protection. The same legislation also limits the margin for flexibility in implementing some of the Principles, namely concerning salaries of researchers in their early career. Beyond that, UV excels in non-discriminatory policies, mainly for gender but also for functional diversity. Although UV strictly fulfils the Principles under this heading, more will be done to improve the guidance that researchers receive concerning aspects like career prospects and employment opportunities.

- Training

The UV offers a wide variety of training and long-life learning opportunities to its staff and other personnel. Nevertheless, this is an area where improvements are clearly needed, mainly concerning the dynamic and pro-active adaptation of the offer to the actual demand, the promotion of the participation in training actions and the assessment of the attractiveness of the courses on offer.

The draft Action Plan was circulated among the members of the Research Committee of the UV and among the services and Units that would be involved in the implementation of the different actions. Their inputs and comments were introduced in the final document here below.