Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - SCHROEDINGER FELLOWS (Erwin Schroedinger Fellowships)

The Erwin Schroedinger Programme is the largest mobility-Programme in Austria for basic research at postdoc level. It is open to all disciplines and destinations and aims to support researchers based in Austria to work abroad at leading research institutions and on leading research programmes in order to open new areas of knowledge, new scientific approaches, methods and techniques also for the benefit of basic research in Austria. It helps the fellows to broaden and deepen their competence, to establish long lasting international cooperation, and supports in this way the internationalisation of Austrian research institutions
The programme was founded in 1985 and has been evaluated first in 2006. With the cofunding of the EC the FWF was able to strengthen this programme with different measures. In particular it was possible to improve it by including the possibility to apply for a reintegration-phase and, thus, facilitating the critical return phase. This return phase has been established successfully: two thirds of the Schroedinger applications include the request for the reintegration phase. The FWF in this way counters the brain drain from Austria and consequently from the ERA in the long term.
The FWF has been a successful applicant within the Marie Curie Actions – COFUND in four calls. With a COFUND grant volume of nearly 13 million euros, we were able to support approx. 350 young researchers on their way towards a scientific career with the Erwin Schroedinger Programme up to date. Several improvements in the programme design have been made over the nine years of EU-cofunding. The Erwin Schroedinger Programme in consequence has become most attractive and the number of applications increased continuously. This grant represents the follow-up to three other COFUND-Grants (No. 228516, No. 245550 and No. 291761). With this last grant, the FWF had the possibility to maintain the implemented programme improvements and the rather high approval rate.
The FWF started this COFUND-contract on July 1st 2013. We have maintained the major improvement already established with the first COFUND grant – the reintegration phase after the stay abroad. Furthermore – implemented with the second COFUND grant - the FWF covers contributions to the Austrian pension fund for the duration of the outgoing phase and the age limit was eliminated.

Schroedinger proposals are not subjected to deadlines; they can be submitted on a rolling basis for the benefit of the applicants. The application processing time is about four months, which is highly appreciated by our clientele and we are convinced that this rapid and quality-controlled decision process is especially helpful in the career paths of young scholars. With our rapid processing time and flexible arrangement of stays abroad (10 to 24 months plus an optional return phase of up to 12 months, free choice of host research institutions), the FWF offers to its target group a programme which is nicely tailored to their specific needs.

All Schroedinger proposals submitted from July 2013 until December 2014 were treated under this COFUND contract. We received 230 applications during this period and in sum we saw 94 projects started. 152 outgoing and 27 return years have been cofunded under this contract.
The reintegration phase was highly appreciated and we saw that 60% of the approved projects included a return phase.


The information provided by the final reports of the fellows is highly positive: We monitor a great average publication output (2.6 scientific publications per fellow), an immediate effect on continuing the scientific career path (20 persons terminated their fellowship earlier or abstained from the approved reintegration financing mainly because of job offers, 13 applied successfully for another project at the FWF) and a very high satisfaction with the programme design and management.

In 2013/2014 the FWF launched again an external programme evaluation, also to render account to the EC. The few weaknesses mentioned in the evaluation report from 2006 were no longer issues after the improvements of the programme which were made possible by the cofunding of the EC. The extremely positive results of the evaluation published in May 2014 are summarized in the executive summary of the evaluation report
Evaluation, p. 44: “The evidence gathered by this evaluation suggests that the Schrödinger program with a return phase is well managed and that its overall objectives are achieved. The way in which the program has been repeatedly evaluated and how it has continuously been adapted and improved is commendable. This is also reflected in the high level of satisfaction expressed by the surveyed Schrödinger fellows. The evaluation measured the impact of the program on four different levels: The individual researchers’ careers, the involved research institutions, the Austrian Science system and the European Research Area. “
In sum, the FWF was again able to improve the Erwin Schroedinger Programme with the help of COFUND, the external evaluation showed the positive impact of the programme on the fellows’ careers and the final reports show the high satisfaction of the fellows with the programme design and management.

References:

Programme Homepage: http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-funding/fwf-programmes/schroedinger-programme/
Funding information about the Schroedinger projects is available with the FWF’s project finder
https://pf.fwf.ac.at/en/research-in-practice/project-finder, in case of terminated projects abstracts of the final reports are also available on this site.
The FWF-Homepage includes “In the Spotlight: Schrödinger” http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-in-practice/in-the-spotlight-schroedinger/list-of-schroedinger-fellows and a “Schrödinger world map” http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-in-practice/in-the-spotlight-schroedinger/schroedinger-world-map/
A collection of several Schroedinger-articles “Unterwegs” (“On the road”) can also be found in the online magazine scilog --> http://scilog.fwf.ac.at/en/t/on-the-road
We launched an external programme evaluation which is to be found also with a short FWF commentary here:
doi: 10.5281/zenodo.20579
doi: 10.5281/zenodo.20584
A concluding summary of the COFUND will be available on the EU Research magazine in August 2018.

Reported by

FONDS ZUR FÖRDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTLICHEN FORSCHUNG
Austria

Subjects

Life Sciences
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