Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

CARA Report Summary

Project ID: 246541
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Ireland

Final Report Summary - CARA (CARA POSTDOCTORAL MOBILITY FELLOWSHIPS IN THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES)

Summary Description of the Project Objectives
The CARA programme was established to fulfil an important role and provide humanities and social sciences postdoctoral researchers, with an interest in Ireland, the option of spending a research period abroad in order to gain new knowledge, to gain international work experience, to extend their networks and – in short – to boost their academic careers. At the same time, the programme also provides the opportunity to come back to Ireland. Thus further enhancing fellows’ careers and enabling them the opportunity to reintegrate back into the Irish research community.

It is on this basis that CARA was set up as a new scheme for humanities and social sciences postdoctoral researchers based in Ireland (or Irish citizens already abroad), consisting of a two year phase of outgoing mobility to a host organisation anywhere in the world, followed by a one year reintegration phase in an Irish home organisation.

Description of the Work Performed Since the Beginning of the Project
Preparatory work began on the CARA programme in advance of the official start date of the ECOM award. The first funding call of the CARA COFUND Fellowship was launched on 18th December 2009. During this first reporting period the two proposed calls were evaluated and the full allocation of 25 proposed awards were made.

The evaluation of first call of applications took place following commencement of the CARA programme on 1st May 2010. In the first call IRCHSS received 38 applications to the CARA scheme. Following eligibility checks, three applications were deemed to be ineligible and 35 applications were sent through to the evaluation phase. Following the evaluation process the International Assessment Board (IAB) recommended 10 of these applications for funding. The IRCHSS made the final confirmation of awards based on recommendations made by the IAB dependent on budget availability, and supplied feedback to all applicants. One of the 10 successful applicants declined the award, and IRCHSS proceeded with 9 awardees in the first cohort. These 9 fellows all commenced their fellowships on 1st of October 2010.

The second call was launched in September 2010. In the second call IRCHSS received 49 applications to the CARA scheme. Out of these 49 applications, 2 were withdrawn and 6 were deemed to be ineligible resulting in 39 applications that progressed through to the evaluation phase. The International Assessment Board (IAB) recommended 16 of these for funding with a ranked reserve list of applicants for any potential declines of award. The IRCHSS made the final confirmation of awards based on recommendations made by the IAB dependent on budget availability, and supplied feedback to all applicants. Of the 16 top ranked successful applicants 3 declined the award, and IRCHSS proceeded to activate the 3 highest ranked reserve candidates. These 16 fellows all commenced their fellowships on 1st of October 2011.

The Terms and conditions in addition to contract letters detail the reporting requirements of the programme. All CARA fellows are asked to submit two written progress reports per year, following a calendar year structure. Thus in the reporting period three sets of progress reports were received covering progress up to December 2010, June 2011, and December 2011.

Description of the Main Results Achieved so Far
The main results achieved in the reporting period are the establishment of the programme with the successful evaluation and awarding of the 25 proposed awards over two calls. No further calls will take place. All 25 fellows have commenced their three year fellowships, embarking on the two year international outgoing phase. Of the 25 awards, 5 of these have undertaken international outgoing mobility outside of Europe. All the 25 awards are in research areas pertaining to the humanities and social sciences. Fellows have chosen to spend their mobility period abroad at some of the world's most prestigious research institutions including the Harvard University, University of Cambridge and the Sorbonne.

In November 2011 the Irish Government officially decided to merge the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the its sister council the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) into a consolidated single council under the Higher Education Authority. The new Irish Research Council was launched on the 29th March 2012 and from point continued the management of the CARA programme. Following the merger of the two councils the original IRCHSS website (www.irchss.ie) was replaced with a new Irish Research Council website (www.research.ie).

Since the start of the CARA programme the Irish Research Council has held four annual research symposia for the Fellows (with a launch and re-integration event for both cohorts of fellows). Further to the two re-integration events, CARA Fellows were also encouraged to attend two interdisciplinary events which the Council hosted in 2014. In February 2014 the Council hosted an interdisciplinary workshop ‘Creative Connections in Horizon 2020’ to explore the cross-disciplinary possibilities Horizon 2020 offers to Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and their researchers. Later in the year in November, the Council hosted another event ‘Connecting Communities - Future Opportunities’ which included interactive discussions and presentations on cultivating connections across disciplines and was aimed at researchers seeking to form collaborations and partnerships to address societal challenges.

These successful symposia and workshops provided Fellows with the following:

(i) A platform for researchers across all disciplines and career stages to network, and to celebrate and showcase the research projects funded by the Council.
(ii) Assistance in learning key strategies to better market themselves and their research outputs, with a particular focus on career development and career progression.
(iii) Identification of research funding and other employment opportunities.



In addition to the networking opportunities presented by these symposia, the Council has also built a Fellows’ alumni network via online social networking sites for researchers and the Council is currently placed at the heart of a very active higher-education social-media community. The Council employs a variety of social media platforms in addition to the Council website (www.research.ie) to communicate with researchers and to disseminate its awardees’ activities among an international audience: principally through the use of Twitter (https://twitter.com/IrishResearch), Facebook (https:www.facebook.com/irishresearch), LinkedIn, Vimeo and YouTube. Updates are posted with particular frequency on Twitter; the Council’s growing cohort of followers now exceeds 7,000.

More recently, in January 2016 a new initiative to highlight the achievements of Irish researchers (including CARA alumni) was launched by the Irish Research Council. The initiative will run throughout 2016 with the aim of increasing public awareness of the important research conducted in higher education institutions throughout the country and will include the following programme of activities.
#LoveIrishResearch will be comprised of:
• Regional and institutional showcase events;
• Competitions and awards;
• Engagement with international events being hosted in Ireland;
• A specific Decade of Centenaries programme;
• Monthly research themes; and
• A series of publications.

A phone survey of Fellows, in combination with information provided in progress and final reports, confirmed that Fellows felt they have benefited strongly from the mobility and career development experience offered by the CARA fellowships. Fellows commented on the networking experiences that the CARA fellowship opened and the many ‘doors’ that were opened due to the reputation associated with being a Marie Curie Fellow.
“My COFUND Fellowship was, and continues to be, crucial to the success of my career. The experience I gained through my Fellowship, particularly the international experience afforded by the mobility aspect, ensured that I was able to successfully move into a university lecturing position immediately following completion of the Fellowship, when I was appointed Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Sunderland. I have recently been appointed Lecturer in Modern European History at Northumbria University” Dr Laura O’Brien
“Ultimately, the aim of the COFUND award was to acquire an international dimension to my career and research, which would otherwise have been difficult to obtain. This was more than achieved as I have since been appointed an honorary fellow at Macquarie University, been appointed editor of a prestigious journal, have set up an international network of scholars with a competitive research grant, have been a visiting academic at a number of universities, have taught on an international summer school, and have had a considerable number of collaborations with colleagues in the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Japan.” Dr Liam Weeks

Fellows also commented on the exciting training opportunities that were open to them as a result of the CARA Scheme.
"the power of CARA is that it generously supports training and international mobility. I was encouraged by the scheme to seek out training and development opportunities. These resulted in me completing the Teaching Associate Programme at Cambridge. This course offered excellent theoretical and practical information on teaching at 3rd Level institutions. I was also inspired to complete an ‘Emerging Research Leaders’ programme at Cambridge. This involved a large amount of self-reflexive thinking as well as engagement with a life coach to frame my academic career and get the best out of my abilities as a research leader and collaborator. The support provided by CARA encouraged me to take my research topic into the environmental humanities, where I linked up with a previous network in Germany. This resulted in several articles (published and forthcoming), conference papers, and a new focus on where I can position myself internationally" Dr Shane McCorristine.

Early Terminations
A total of 9 Fellows requested early termination of their CARA fellowships, however 4 of these finished just one month early, and one Fellow terminated just 6 days early. The reason provided by each Fellow was a job offer, deemed by the Fellow to be an excellent opportunity, with all nine of the Fellows receiving an offer of a permanent lecturing position. Final reports were submitted in each case, documenting their work progress to date, and including details regarding the proposed dissemination of the completed research. The early terminations were granted to Fellows as one of the primary goals of the CARA programme was to increase the employability of early-career researchers, and the nature of positions that were offered to the Fellows demonstrated the successful impact of the fellowship.

Follow-on Positions
Out of 25 Fellowships, all but one Fellowship was complete by the end date of the COFUND agreement. The one exception was one Fellow who took maternity leave one month before the end date of the agreement. The majority of Fellows secured permanent lecturing positions, many of which were of a prestigious nature. Fourteen Fellows secured permanent research positions which, typically, is a significant goal and milestone for academic researchers. There are nine Fellows currently working on contract research positions and two Fellows who are currently looking for employment. Furthermore, all the Fellows who are in employment are based within the European Research Area. Thus, Europe benefits from the retention of their expert knowledge and experience.
In terms of enhancing the mobility and career development of early career researchers in Ireland and Europe, CARA has made a significant impact on the landscape of research in the humanities and social sciences.

List of Irish Home Organisations
1. University College Dublin (8 Awards), 2. Trinity College Dublin (6 Awards); 3. University College Cork (3 Awards); 4. National University of Ireland, Galway (3 Awards); 5. National University of Ireland, Maynooth (3 Awards); 6. Dublin City University (1 Award); Dublin Institute of Technology (1 Award). 25 Awards in total.

List of International Host Organisations (Institutional Name, Host Country. Unless stated otherwise each Institution hosting one award)
1. University of Toronto, Canada (2 Awards); 2. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (2 Awards); 3. University of Salamanca, Spain; 4. Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany; 5. Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom; 6. Universite Paris-1 (Pantheon Sorbonne), France; 7. University of Virginia, United States; 8. University of Liverpool, United Kingdom; 9. Macquarie University, Australia; 10. Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain; 11. University College London, United Kingdom; 12. University of Milan, Italy; 13. University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom; 14. London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom; 15. Harvard University, United States; 16. Claude Bernard University Lyon 1, France; 17. University of Dundee, United Kingdom; 28. University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; 19. The Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Greece; 20. University of Warwick, United Kingdom; 21. University of Zaragoza, Spain; 22. Grenoble Ecole de Management, France; 23. King's College London, United Kingdom.

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Contact

Kate Ryan
Tel.: +353 1 231 5000
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Record Number: 182031 / Last updated on: 2016-05-17
Information source: SESAM