Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - BEIPD (Be International Post-Doc - Euregio and Greater Region)

“98% of MSCA-BeIPD-COFUND applicants would like to engage in the grant application process all over again!”

The BeIPD-COFUND scheme was launched in February 2013 and till beginning of 2019, offers the ULg the opportunity to organise 4 incoming- and 4 outgoing calls for international, experienced postdoctoral researchers. A total of 100 incoming- and 28 outgoing
fellowships will be awarded to young scientists and allow them to establish themselves as independent researchers in Academia.

After 6 successful cohort call rounds, ULg thought it time to launch a satisfaction among the applicants who applied to a BeIPD-COFUND in- or outgoing fellowship grant in 2013, 2014 and/ or 2015.

December 2015, a mailing campaign towards the applicants’ mailing addresses the time they’ve applied was launched. Bot successful and unselected applicants participated in our survey (N=557) and were questioned about how they had experienced participating in our Marie Curie fellowship selection calls.

This survey enabled us to gather essential information regarding the quality of the application procedure as such and the way the applicants experienced it. It also allowed us to retrieve feedback regarding the overall attractively of the offered fellowships as well as feedback regarding the experience of selected fellows being employed at the ULg within the framework of the Marie Curie COFUND programme.

We, of course, were very excited to understand that the survey concluded that 98% of the survey participants stated that if they were still eligible to the call, they would certainly reconsider applying to the scheme. This result in fact confirmed that they had experienced the application process as a merely smooth process with fair chances to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship.

The survey results became a key component in our current course of action. We indeed were awaiting feedback upon the items to tackle, or at least pay particular attention to. The survey lead us to think that the information that was accompanying the call was clear and transparent enough for applicants to understand that their application was being proceeded, in what stage the reviewing process found itself and put trust in the internationally renowned external experts to accomplish the reviewing task in the best possible manner.

We felt the need to particularly focus on these testimonials and depending on the fellows’ experiences, decided to focus on the issues that they had evoked as “lesser positive points”. Lacking childcare provisions and a neglected attention for “workable” or “doable” work schemes for fellows that have to manage both a scientific career and family life has been evoked several times by fellows that participated in the survey.

The feedback report was generally appreciated and supported the applicants in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their application. They were generally very satisfied with the experts’ feedback regarding the scientific quality of their application and confirmed that it had helped them to improve their scientific thinking & research project redaction skills.

Another noteworthy finding addresses the participation of BeIPD-COFUND fellows in transferable skills trainings. A relatively high number of participating fellows declared not being interested in any of the transferable skills trainings that are on offer although they recognise that professional competencies are important and even essential to their future scientific careers!

The BeIPD-COFUND postdoctoral fellowship programme is designed to strengthen young scientists’ careers and we provide financial and administrative support to post-doc for helping them to develop their career through courses, training, support to publication and mobility, organisation of congress, developing their network, etc. The fact that notably the Career Development measures that are on offer do not seem appealing enough to them did not meet our expectation and thus triggered us to investigate the situation more closely.

From our point of view, we feel that it is not so much about the visibility of the LLL courses on offer, but more about the researchers’ statements that they do not need them. Our consequently acclaimed assumption that they had already acquired the needed soft skills elsewhere and throughout their earlier career steps was just one of the questions that occupied us during this project phase (M 37>M48).

From our experience with the first two cohort fellow groups who now finished their fellowship trial, we actually feel that they would have benefitted from LLL training if would they have engaged in them. We thus feel that the survey results merely express a lack of intrinsic experience or individual competencies level identification and that in order to shift towards a better insight in acquired or needed competencies and professional career skills, the question needs to be put in another context so that young researchers actually acknowledge not having been enrolled in any former “career building” activity and actually face their own weaknesses in this respect.

There’s much to say about bringing researchers out of their “comfort zone” and the role that University administrations have or should have to actually engage them in identifying their own skills gap(s). Actually the same goes for their scientists-in-charge: do they actually recognise the benefit of the career management initiatives that their staff can enrol in and what do they do to advocate it.

MSCA – BeIPD-COFUND Internet Portal:

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