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Background: UV HR Excellence in Research Project

On 5 April 2016, the Principal 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 on 26 May 2016.

Since that date, the Universitat de València 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 representative bodies or directly through a general consultation
  • The increased awareness of 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, initially, carried out by the Supervisory Committee, chaired by the Vice-Principal for Research and Scientific Policy, Prof. Pilar Campins, by appointment of the Principal. 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, acknowledged 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 complies with the Principles of this heading. The UV's current legislation and regulations, as well as its tradition reflected in its Mission, Vision and Values statements provide a consolidated framework for ethical and responsible research. At the same time, there is a need to compile existing written norms, current practices and recommendations for improvement into a comprehensive document of Good Practice in Research, from which the Governing Board will soon adapt a first text. 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, the UV should increase productivity in terms of advertising vacancies beyond the strict minimum required by law, particularly in English, as well as the use of other channels beyond the regulated ones, and in a more pro-active 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 at the start of their careers. Beyond that, the UV excels in non-discriminatory policies, mainly for gender but also for functional diversity. Although the 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 life-long learning opportunities for its staff and other personnel. Nevertheless, this is an area where improvements are clearly needed, especially in terms of dynamically and proactively adapting the offer to current demand, encouraging participation in training activities and evaluating the appeal of the courses offered.

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.