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Fernand Braudel International Fellowships for Experienced Researchers in Social Sciences and Humanities

Final Report Summary - BRAUDEL-IFER-FMSH (Fernand Braudel International Fellowships for Experienced Researchers in Social Sciences and Humanities)

The Braudel-IFER postdoctoral fellowships programme was dedicated to the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Its primary objective was to foster experienced researchers’ (ER) career development in France and in Europe. Priority was given to supporting young postdoctoral ER (less than 6 years after the PhD) with the objective of favouring first or second postdoctoral mobility experience and maximizing mobility experiences 247 fellowships were granted during the implementation of the programme)

The main features of the Braudel-IFER postdoctoral fellowships were:
- The Braudel-IFER postdoctoral fellowships were for periods of nine months and covered all fields of SHS (social and human sciences).
- The Programme published incoming grants to applicants from anywhere in the world and outgoing grants for applicants applying in Europe (EU members and associate countries).
- The programme published two calls for applications per year.
- The FMSH acted as the sole programme manager. Candidates applied to the FMSH but requested a different host laboratory. This host laboratory must have been scientifically relevant for their research. This laboratory or institution was responsible for providing scientific support for the candidate during their stay.

Organisation - Management and partnership:
- The Coordinator: The FMSH was in charge of the management of the Programme. It administered the application and selection processes, which entailed: publishing and disseminating the Calls for Applications; receiving applications and verifying eligibility criteria; referring each application to outside experts for an assessment; convoking a selection committee; as well as informing applicants of the results of the selection process. The FMSH provided administrative services for the postdoctoral fellows awarded grants. These services included: welcoming fellows; managing issues related to visas and insurance; managing sick leave and travel.
- The Partners are clusters of laboratories. They co-financed the Programme but did not act as host institutions.
- The Host Institutions scientifically supervised the fellow and contributed to the development of his/her European academic network. They took no part in the selection process.

Unique elements and advantages
- All fields of social sciences and humanities were covered.
- A total of 203 incoming fellowships and 44 outgoing fellowships were awarded, making the Braudel-IFER programme the foremost postdoctoral programme in SSH in France and one of the major programmes in Europe.
- Hundreds of potential host laboratories participated in the programme.
- The rhythm of two calls per year allowed unsuccessful candidates to rework and resubmit their application with the help of the evaluators’ comments, which were sent to them after the selection process had been completed.
- The host laboratories did not take part in the selection process, which allowed for full independence of the selection process.
- The centralized scientific and administrative management of the Programme was designed to combat fragmentation; not only did it pooled the resources and academic networks of multiple partners but it also guaranteed a clear and homogenous application of rules and conditions to the fellows via a single point of entry.
- A total of 28 partner institutions were included in the Programme.
- The scale of the Programme and the number of participating institutions guaranteed a substantial impact, spreading the best international-level procedure.

The eligibility criteria for the programme were as follows:

Research experience
- Applicants shall, at the time of the application, be in possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience.
- Applications must be submitted no more than six years after the defence of their doctoral dissertation. Exceptions may be granted in case of career break (due to maternity leave, illness, military service, etc.).
- Applicants must be fluent in one of the working languages of the host laboratory; fluency in French or English is preferable.
Mobility criteria
- Applicants may originate from any country, nationality is not considered.
- At the time of application, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately prior to the call deadline (geographical criteria; i.e. MSCA criteria)

The selection process for the programme was as follows:
- The coordinator is responsible for the entire coordination of the selection process (eligibility check, expert review, organization of the Selection Committee, management of ethical issues, feedback to applicants).
- Each application is evaluated by two external experts, French or international, chosen by the Coordinator for their recognized scientific skills on the topic of the applicant’s project. Over the course of the programme, a total of 3907 experts delivered an evaluation.
- The Selection Committee (SC) is composed of 20 to 30 international experts, representing various disciplines in SSH, and recognized for their scientific experience, their seniority and their knowledge of the French academic landscape.

The evaluation criteria for the programme were as follows:
- Scientific qualifications and language skills: Scientific background and professional experience (PhD and research, scientific background with regard to the proposed project, language skills allowing the candidate to carry her/his research in France.
- Quality of the research project: Strengths and weaknesses, quality, interest and feasibility (in terms of time allocated and resources), innovative quality of the project compared to the thesis.
- Choice of host institution: Adequacy between the research project and the host institution (the letter of support sent by the host is carefully considered).

Feedback to candidates: Experts and members of the selection Committee were asked to provide comments which were anonymised and forwarded by Programme Officers to the candidates after the selection process.

Impact and achievements
The programme successfully adhered to its scheduled calendar of two calls per year (calls published in January for a deadline of 31 March and in July for a deadline of 30 September) and managed, despite a considerable increase in the number of applications in the last 4 calls and tight deadlines, to complete the selection process on schedule.

The Braudel IFER fellowship programme awarded a total 203 incoming fellowships and 44 outgoing fellowships. The project initially planned and set up a financial plan for 196 incoming fellows but due to the interruption of some fellowships by fellows who were awarded a permanent or long-term position during their Braudel fellowship, the remaining fellows-month were used to award additional fellowships (with the exception of 9 months that could not be re-allocated at the end of the programme).

The programme has, in these aspects, fully achieved all its objectives (all the planned fellowships were effectively granted and the selected fellows carried out their projects). The coordinator and its partners constantly improved the dissemination spectrum of the Call for Application leading, over the last 2-3 years, to a renewed interest in the in the SSH scientific community (observed through the increase in number of applications) and a well-established renown of the “Braudel Fellowships Programme”. Fellows from 50 countries all over the word were selected and more than 170 laboratories in France hosted a “Braudel fellow”. The outgoing programme (restricted to European mobility) allowed the 44 fellows to achieve their project in 44 different host laboratories.

The international and intercultural mobility experience and the scientific mentoring offered by renowned senior scholars at the host institutions gave the fellows the opportunity to be trained in methodologies and schools of thought that enriched their scientific background and have an impact on both their project and the orientation given to their research in general.
The Programme was based on individual-driven international mobility, the candidates being free to choose the most appropriate host organization in France

As for the Programme’s international outreach, all participating Labexes share, by definition, the objective to contribute to internationalizing the French research potential and to attract the most promising and recognized scholars. The statistics confirm this attractiveness with an average 60% fellows coming from Europe and 40% from third countries.

List of partners:
- 16 Labex (Centres of Excellence or cluster of research laboratories, schools, museums...) including 11 in SSH: Resmed (Religions and Societies in the Mediterranean world), Hastec (History and anthropology of knowledge, techniques and believes), TranferS (Cultural Transfers), OBVIL (Observatory of Literary Life), IPOPS (Changes in society), LabexMed (Study of the Mediterranean, multidisciplinary), Patrima (Art and cultural heritage), Past/Present (History, heritage, and memory), TEPSIS (State Transformation, Politicisation, Social Issues), ICCA (Culture, art and digital studies), Dynamite (Geography, environment, territorial forms,); and 5 Labex organised around interdisciplinary between SHS and hard sciences : IEC (Cognitive sciences), OT-Med (Ecology and environmental issues), IDGM+ (Sustainable development), MiChem (Chemistry and environmental and health studies)), Corail (Coral reefs coping with global change).
- Other prominent schools in the Social Sciences or Grande Ecole: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences Sociales (EHESS), Ecole Centrale, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Sciences Po-CERI ;
- Foreign universities or institutions: the University of Princeton (United States), the Thyssen Foundation (Germany), the Luiss University (Italy), the B. Kessler Foundation (Italy), the DAAD (Germany); and
- The French National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique- CNRS), and the French Ministry of Research and High Education.

Main figures
- 247 fellowships were granted in 9 calls for application during 4,5 years
- Fellows from 50 countries all over the word were selected.
- An average 60% fellows came from Europe and 40% from third countries.
- 3907 experts and 315 members of the selection committee were involved in the evaluation and the selection process
- 170 laboratories in France hosted a “Braudel fellow” (incoming programme) and 44 laboratories in Europe (Outgoing programme)

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