Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - P.R.I.M.E. (Postdoctoral Researchers International Mobility Experience)

In 2014 the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) initiated the programme "Postdoctoral Researchers International Mobility Experience" (P.R.I.M.E.) to support the international mobility of postdoctoral researchers by temporary positions at German universities in place of conventional stipends. In doing so, we entered a new path in supporting postdoctoral mobility to meet the principles of the European Charter for Researchers.

The P.R.I.M.E. fellowships combine a 12-month mobility phase abroad with a 6-month reintegration phase in Germany. Fellows receive an 18-month temporary position at a German university of their choice and are thus hired as scientific staff fully integrated into the regular pay scale at German universities which guarantees adequate salaries and social security benefits. Hence, DAAD promotes the introduction of employment contracts as a means to support the outgoing mobility of researchers. In 2016 the DAAD directorate decided to base its funding for long-term postdoctoral research stays abroad on this new funding arrangement with work contracts and to discontinue the long-term postdoctoral scholarship scheme that preceded P.R.I.M.E.

The second reporting period (03/2016-02/2018) did not only comprise the third and fourth application and selection cycle, but also a comprehensive programme evaluation that DAAD commissioned to get a full assessment of the programme’s impact and to identify potential for further optimization. The evaluation was carried out between December 2016 and June 2017. The evaluation team clearly characterized the period under review as a successful pilot phase and confirmed that the funding arrangement with a work contract is the programme’s most important characteristic and success factor.

The programme is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Union (FP7/Marie Curie Action/COFUND) for a 5-year period (March 2014-February 2019). The funds enable DAAD to allocate a total of 1,512 fellowship-months, most of which have been awarded in the selection cycles of 2014, 2015 and 2016. The few remaining fellowship-months will be distributed evenly across the new fellows selected in 2017, while the largest part of the full 18-month fellowships of this cohort is being supported with funds from the national level (BMBF).

The main platform for the promotion of the programme is its website, which also includes the fellows’ profiles. Marketing is further done through various other channels like brochures, flyers and mailings. Other external media (e.g. Euraxess database) are similarly used to publicize this funding instrument. About 200 applications in 2016 and almost 300 in 2017 testify to the programme’s attractiveness among the target group. Selection for the programme is strictly merit-based and each proposal is reviewed by external experts and by the selection committee, which consists of national and international scientists of all relevant disciplines. A robust procedure in handling ethical issues prevents violation of ethical principles.

Programme quality is monitored continuously by recording feedback through anonymized surveys conducted among stakeholders. Tracing the career development of fellows is another important aspect of programme monitoring. A significant number already holds high-ranking scientific positions such as full professorships, junior professorships or a position as research group leader. Their career development is an indicator of the highly successful reintegration into the German and European research system and ensures the best possible use of their newly-gained knowledge and network for the advancement of the European Research Area.

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