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INterdiSciPlinarity and excellence for doctoral training of International REsearchers in Paris

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSPIRE (INterdiSciPlinarity and excellence for doctoral training of International REsearchers in Paris)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

The COFUND INSPIRE action commenced on October 1st, 2015, for a duration of five years, with the three stated objectives to 1) attract high-quality international candidates from a wide range of countries, 2) to provide high-quality collaborations at an international level and with the non-academic sector, and 3) to improve follow-up and mentoring conditions.

Following two successful calls for INSPIRE doctoral contracts in 2016 and 2017, the action fulfilled its principal objective to recruit 60 doctoral fellows with excellent academic credentials and a strong international background, extending across all disciplines, with 10 laureates in the Humanities, Arts, Letters and Literature (HALL), 16 in the Life and Health Sciences (SDVS), 21 in Exact Sciences and Technology (SET), and 13 in Social Sciences (SS). They are employed by eight member institutions of USPC, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Université Paris Descartes, Université Paris Diderot, Université Paris 13, INALCO, IPGP, EHESP and Sciences Po. Nearly half the fellows originate from outside the EU (6 from Africa, 5 from South America, 12 from Asia and 5 from North America) and the other half from eleven different EU countries. In terms of mobility, 47% of the 2016 laureates completed their Bachelor’s degree outside the EU, versus 56% in the second cohort, indicating a further diversification of the international background of the recruited candidates in the second call. Both cohorts showed increased mobility to a EU country for their Master’s diploma (73% in the first cohort and 66% in the second cohort). This international background of the laureates has played a role in the incorporation of co-tutelles, and international collaborations, of a number of INSPIRE fellows.

The gender distribution of the recruited INSPIRE fellows is close to parity with 32 women and 28 men having been recruited via the two calls, with 12 female (F), and 17 male (M), laureates in 2016, versus 21 female, and 11 male, laureates in 2017. Their distribution across the four disciplinary poles in 2016 was, 3F:3M in HALL, 4F:3M in SDVS, 2F:8M in SET, and 2F:3M in SS, versus 5F:0M in HALL, 7F:1M in SDVS, 4F:8M in SET, and 5F:2M in SS, in 2017 (see Figure 1).

These laureates were chosen via a rigorous three-step selection procedure, first by the research group, then by the Doctoral School, and finally by an independent jury, composed of international and national experts. The call for the fellowships was implemented in accordance with principles of The European Charter for Researchers to ensure a transparent and impartial procedure. The laureates were provided with dedicated support by the INSPIRE management team, including the coordinator, a project manager and assistant project manager who strove to ensure the reception of the laureates under best conditions at their host institutions. Fellows were provided with the necessary support to register at their host institutions; to facilitate the immigration procedure to work in France (for non-EU citizens); as well as an offer for subsidised housing. All together this facilitated a smooth transition for fellows to begin working. The management team remains present to respond to queries from the fellows, and strives to provide a high level of non-academic support to all fellows.

These diverse initiatives undertaken within the INSPIRE action, during the call and follow-up actions, have the potential to be applied in a wider context within USPC.
"The work performed from M1 (01/10/2015) to M24 (30/09/2017), and the main results achieved, are summarized below. During this period 11, out of a total of 12, deliverables, including two public deliverables, have been submitted to the Commission.

I. Implementation of the first call – M1 to M6

The first call for 30 INSPIRE doctoral contracts was launched in November 2015. Following the implementation of the three-step selection process, 29 fellows, across the four disciplinary poles, were recruited in autumn 2016.

II. Implementation of the second call – M12 to M18

The second call, launched in September 2016,* resulted in the recruitment of 31 doctoral fellows, across the four disciplinary poles, in September 2017 at eight USPC member institutions.
*at www.uspc.fr/inspire the Euraxess site, as well as at FindAPhd.com CampusFrance, LinguistList and Fabula

III. Ethics in INSPIRE

All projects in INSPIRE underwent an ethics self-assessment test and subsequently evaluated by an ad hoc ethics committee, to ensure that each project was in compliance with the rules and regulations of the H2020 programme and French law. All concerned doctoral fellows and thesis supervisors will need to comply with the opinions and decisions of the ethics committee, with the rapid application of corrective actions if required. This will allow the projects financed by INSPIRE to carry out their research with the highest ethical standards in respect of the ethical rights and obligations.

IV. Other actions

- INSPIRE fellows were provided with dedicated assistance in regard to, a) enrollment procedures, b) immigration procedure (for non-EU citizens), c) provision for subsidised housing. This ensured their reception under good conditions and a smooth transition to begin working.

- Implementation of a 2-day training programme in English for fellows and a 4-day training programme in French for INSPIRE thesis supervisors.
This is expected to facilitate supervisor-doctoral-fellow interaction and instill good practices.

- Action to finance professional trips (conference, summer schools, field trips, etc.) up to a maximum of 1500 € over the 3-year contractual period.
This will enhance the professional experience of fellows, while contributing to the dissemination of INSPIRE. As of M24, seven fellows have benefited from this action.

- Dissemination / Communication actions related to the project including, a) interview series with INSPIRE fellows by USPC, b) a dedicated website for project (www.cofund-inspire.eu) c) a kick-off ceremony held on the 24 November 2016 to launch the project, to be followed by a grand kick-off in January 2018, and d) coffee hours/""apéros"" once a semester.
These actions have enhanced the dissemination of the project, and the social activities have simultaneously helped foster a social (support) network among the INSPIRE fellows."
The projects financed by INSPIRE address various scientific questions of a fundamental nature as well as with more immediate applications potential across all four disciplinary poles from the Humanities, to Social Sciences, to the Life and Health Sciences, and Exact Science, and their scientific impact is equally diverse. In addition, the objectives of INSPIRE to enhance international collaborations with the academic and non-academic sector, will be facilitated by the triple “I” weekends, or a “hackathon” to provide exposure to inter-sectorial and inter-disciplinary activates to complement their scientific activities. Additionally, informational sessions about ethics in research vis-à-vis research integrity, and gender issues in relation to the research/academic environment and practices, will be implemented. The adoption of good practices in the selection and accompaniment of doctoral fellows, has the potential to be applied in a wider context within USPC, and will contribute significantly to the impact of the INSPIRE action.
Figure 1. Gender distribution of INSPIRE laureates from the two calls and across disciplina