The current COVID-19 pandemic has significantly restricted the mobility of researchers and also their work and collaboration opportunities. The epidemic and its consequences may also continue to have an impact on scientific cooperation in the future. This comes at a time when researcher mobility is already changing, thanks to increasing digitalisation of work and development of workplace environments.
The Academy of Finland has launched a project to survey mobility specifically from the perspective of Academy-funded research posts. Since 2016, the Academy has required persons applying for funding for Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher posts to have had postdoctoral mobility, i.e. experience of working in different research environments. International mobility and networking has also been encouraged. Experience of a variety of research environments is considered important for improving a researcher’s competence and scientific independence.
With a view to the future, it is now time to analyse changes affecting the Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher funding schemes, especially how the trends in international mobility will affect the schemes. The aim is for the funding provided by the Academy to serve both the scientific community and society at large as effectively as possible while responding to changes in research and the operating environment.
Working closely with researcher community and stakeholders
The researcher mobility project launched in May will address at least the following questions:
- Are researcher mobility and international collaboration changing? What new forms are emerging? How does the researcher community view the changing mobility landscape?
- How is digital mobility defined in various fields and how might it be implemented? How could it be verified when applying for funding from the Academy and when evaluating research plans?
- What are the manifestations of researcher independence, allowing for the particular characteristics of each discipline?
- How might changes in international mobility affect funding schemes, particularly the funding for Academy Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Researchers?
- How has the mobility requirement affected the Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher funding schemes?
- How should trends in international mobility influence funding schemes, particularly the funding for Academy Research Fellows and Postdoctoral Researchers?
- By what means could the Academy best facilitate mobility?
The project will involve extensive discussions with the researcher community and stakeholders. The first round of collecting feedback and ideas will be conducted virtually in August. The project will conclude in February 2021.
Mobility requirement in September 2020 call
In the September 2020 call, we will take into account that the COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher applicants from meeting the mobility requirement. For example, a mobility period planned for this spring may have been interrupted, or an agreed transfer to a new research environment may have been cancelled. In such a case, applicants may in the application explain why and how COVID-19 has prevented them from carrying out the required mobility.
Instructions on how to explain this will be provided in the call texts, which will be published on 3 June 2020.