Researchers need a wide range of experience from working in different research environments and organisations to be able to gain further independence and increase their qualifications. That is why the Academy of Finland has decided that applicants for funding for research posts will in future be required to have work experience from different research organisations. The change concerns applicants for funding for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher and Academy Research Fellow.
A ‘Postdoctoral Researcher’ funded by the Academy of Finland is a talented researcher who has recently completed his or her doctorate. The funding provides the researchers with an opportunity to increase their qualifications for important researcher or expert positions. Postdoctoral Researchers have established effective national or international collaborative networks.
An ‘Academy Research Fellow’ funded by the Academy of Finland works on a research plan of a high scientific quality. Academy Research Fellows have built extensive research networks and the funding allows them to develop their skills of academic leadership and to establish themselves as independent researchers.
As of the September 2016 call, applicants for funding for research posts as Postdoctoral Researcher or Academy Research Fellow must meet one of the following two requirements:
- They are applying for funding for a research post at a research unit other than the one at which they worked on their doctoral thesis.
- They have at least six months of research or research-related experience from some other organisation since PhD completion.
That ‘some other organisation’ may be located either in Finland or abroad. Work in business companies or in research-supporting administrative tasks, for instance, will also be regarded as meeting the set requirements.
Further clarification on working at different organisations
Researchers can apply for funding for a research post at a site of research other than the one at which they worked on their doctoral thesis.
If, however, researchers intend to apply for funding for a research post at the same research unit at which they worked on their doctoral thesis, they must have at least six months of experience from another research environment since PhD completion. The experience may have been gained over two or several spells (e.g. 3 + 3 months or 1 + 5 months). The two longest spells must equal at least six months. In order to help researchers gain further independence, it is essential that the research environment is an organisation other than the one at which they worked on their doctoral thesis.
The research environment may be a research organisation (i.e. university or research institute) located in Finland or abroad. It may also be an organisation within another sector, provided that the work is research-related. Work in another sector may refer to, for instance, R&D activity in business companies or research and analysis work in public administration. On the whole, the experience must support the applicant’s research career. It is impossible to unequivocally define the site of research and the contents of the work experience that form the basis of this requirement – the site and the contents may vary between research fields and topics.
The Postdoctoral Researcher and Academy Research Fellow funding schemes are not the only opportunities for early-career researchers in the Academy of Finland’s funding arsenal. The Academy also provides a lot of funding to postdoctoral researchers through Academy Projects, Centres of Excellence and Academy Programmes. The changes now adopted do not apply to postdoctoral researchers funded through these three instruments.
In the past few years there has been very intense competition for Postdoctoral Researcher and Academy Research Fellow funding. The success rates have hovered around 10 per cent.
The general principles for the Academy of Finland’s funding opportunities have been compiled in a document describing the criteria for Academy funding decisions. The call text for the September 2016 call will include more detailed descriptions of each funding opportunity.
We are currently compiling a list of frequently asked questions about the above changes. The list will be posted on our website. You can also send us your questions via our Questions and feedback page.