Mobility: Academy Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher

The international and national cooperation proposed in the application and the related mobility of researchers will be reviewed as part of the scientific review of the application. Mobility is also taken into account when funding decisions are made. Familiarise yourself with the policies of the research council to which you will submit your application.

Describe your international and national mobility in the online application on the tab ‘Mobility’. The mobility description has three parts: the mobility requirement, other previous mobility and planned mobility.

1. Mobility requirement

To be eligible to apply for a research post as Postdoctoral Researcher or Academy Research Fellow, you must have changed or will be required to change research environments in Finland or abroad after PhD completion. This is also known as the mobility requirement.

Changing research environments refers to physically moving from one research environment to another or to research-supporting working in another sector, for example in another field’s research team, institute, administration, hospital, organisation, business or occupation that is legitimately linked to the proposed research or that contributes to the research career. The mobility requirement can be met in two ways:

  1. The mobility requirement is met if you are applying for Postdoctoral Researcher of Academy Research Fellow funding to a research environment other than the one where you completed your doctoral thesis.
  2. If you are applying for Postdoctoral Researcher or Academy Research Fellow funding to the same research environment where you completed your doctoral thesis, you need to have at least six months of post-dissertation experience from another research environment or from research-supporting work in another sector. The experience may have been gained over several periods, but the two longest periods must equal at least six months.

Exceptions to the mobility requirement may be made only for special reasons for individual researchers.

Examples of such reasons are:

  1. Severe illness (either your own or a close relative’s) that significantly impedes mobility. The illness must be documented. Contact us at mobility@aka.fi.
  2. Interruption of mobility period or cancellation of agreed mobility period due to Covid-19. If you have been unable to meet the mobility requirement due to Covid-19 (e.g. a foreign organisation has not been able to commit to acting as host), you must describe the reasons and be able to provide proof. Enter the justifications under ‘Mobility’ in the application form. Attach the relevant documents (e.g. invitation and airline tickets) on the tab ‘Appendices’ under ‘Mobility requirement, documents’. Name the attachment as follows: yoursurname_mobility.
  3. Covid-19 has prevented you from meeting the mobility requirement of the September 2021 call, and it is not due to an interruption or a cancellation as described in item b above. You must describe what you have done since PhD completion in order to meet the requirement of changing research environments. This may include co-publishing and/or data sharing and applying for co-funding with researchers other than those in your own research environment. Append to the application (tab ‘Appendices under ‘Mobility requirement, documents’) a letter of cooperation received from the other research environment describing the activity. Name the attachment as follows: yoursurname_mobility. Based on your description and documents, the Academy will decide whether you can be granted an exemption from the mobility requirement whether you are eligible to apply.

If you refer the above mentioned factors (a, b or c) as reasons why you do not meet the mobility requirement (items 1 or 2), you must contact the Academy by email at mobility@aka.fi before you apply.

Funding will be granted only if you meet the Academy’s mobility requirement.

2. Other previous mobility (if relevant)

  • Enter information on your visits and workplaces in connection with your postdoctoral research. We will use this information to assess your experience as a researcher.

3. Planned mobility (linked to project implementation)

The site of research of an Academy Research Fellow and a Postdoctoral Researcher is an organisation based in Finland through which the funding is paid. However, during the funding period they can work for periods of varying lengths at a foreign university, for instance.

  • Briefly describe your planned visits and workplaces during the project and how these mobility periods will benefit your research.
  • Planned mobility is considered in reviewing the research plan but not in determining eligibility.

Questions and answers

What is a research environment?

Research environment refers to the local research team or research community in which you work. The research environment is often located within a single site of research (usually a university or research institute), but it may also extend to several organisations. There may be several different research environments at a single site of research.

If you change research environments within the same site, we require a distinct change of work environment, so that it justifiably promotes the Academy’s objectives for mobility. Applicants must provide a concrete justification for the change of work environment and for meeting the Academy's objectives on the online application form.

Changing the name of the research unit or merging units does not count as a change of research environment.

What does working elsewhere mean?

The key criterion is that if the researcher continues at their site of research and does not change research environments, they must have gained experience also from outside their current research environment before the call deadline expires. The post-dissertation experience may have been gained in Finland or abroad.

The six-month requirement may be fulfilled by, for instance, working in another field’s research team, institute or association, in administration, the business sector or an occupation that is legitimately linked to the proposed research or that contributes to promoting the research career.

Work elsewhere can also refer to working on a grant or through some other arrangement in some other environment than the physical research environment that the application concerns. For example, applicants may have worked at a foreign university with funding from their own university. Working in a collegium of researchers may also be eligible as work somewhere else if the researcher in question has changed work communities.

Must the applicant have had an employment contract to the organisation at which the work experience was gained?

No. This means that working on a grant, for instance, may count towards the required six months. The funding source of the six-month work period is irrelevant.

When must the six months have been completed?

The required mobility period of at least six months must have been completed after the dissertation and no later than by the call deadline.

The work may have been performed over several periods. However, the two longest periods must equal at least six months.

Planned mobility is not considered in assessing eligibility unless the applicant changes research environment. Planned mobility is assessed as part of the research plan.

Can the applicant work abroad?

Our funding is paid via a site of research (usually a university or research institute) based in Finland. Academy-funded researchers may also spend time working abroad during their funding period.

Why does the Academy fund researcher mobility?

Researchers need a wide range of experience from working in different research and work environments to be able to increase their independence. By working in different kinds of research groups or in other research-related positions, researchers can further strengthen their personal networks and improve their chances of securing research positions or other expert tasks. For today’s researchers, it is also important to be able to acquire new methodological skills and adopt new means of communicating with people with different backgrounds.

Wide-ranging expertise can help to increase the impact of research and promote science renewal, which are among the Academy of Finland’s most important strategic objectives in addition to improving scientific quality.

We encourage international researcher mobility. Our funding can be used within the limits of the funding period for research spells abroad and for returning to Finland. International mobility is of particular importance to early-career researchers in improving the quality of their research and supporting their career development.

Examples of meeting the mobility requirement

Researcher changes research environments when applying for funding for research post as Postdoctoral Researcher/Academy Research Fellow

  • A researcher applies for a post at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki. They completed and defended their doctoral dissertation at the Faculty of Mathematics and Science of the University of Jyväskylä. The site of research changes, as does the research environment. The mobility requirement is met.
  • A researcher applies for a post at the Institute of Biotechnology of the University of Helsinki. The researcher has completed and defended a doctoral dissertation at the Department of Biochemistry and Developmental biology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki. The site of research remains the same, but the research environment changes. The mobility requirement is met.
  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a researcher coming from abroad is unable to obtain a commitment from a Finnish research organisation, or the mobility restrictions in Finland have not been lifted. The researcher has an invitation from the head of the receiving research team. However, they will be able to start work in Finland later. The mobility requirement is met. The researcher must contact the Academy of Finland before submitting the application and submit the invitation letter.
  • A researcher applies for a post on a team at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare led by Professor X. The researcher worked on their doctoral dissertation while on Professor X’s team at the Institute, but also while working at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki. The researcher obtained their doctoral degree from the University of Helsinki. The site of research changes after the doctorate, but the research environment does not. The mobility requirement is not met.
  • A researcher applies for a post at the University of Jyväskylä Department of Biological and Environmental Science. The researcher wants to work for a year at Harvard University during the funding period and has an invitation letter from Harvard. They completed their doctoral thesis at the Department and defended their doctoral dissertation at the Faculty of Mathematics and Science of the University of Jyväskylä. The site of research does not change. The mobility is mobility during the project. The mobility requirement is not met.
  • A researcher holds two degrees from both the University of Helsinki and the University of Manchester. They have no other mobility. They apply to the same research team at the University of Helsinki from where they obtained their doctoral degree. The mobility requirement is not met, because the research environment does not change.

Researcher changes research environments for at least six months after PhD completion

The work may have been performed over several periods. However, the two longest periods must equal at least six months.

  • After obtaining the doctorate, a researcher transfers from the University of Turku to the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, an independent institute within the University of Helsinki. The researcher stays at the Collegium for four months, then transfers to the University of Helsinki for two months. The mobility requirement is met.
  • A researcher completed their doctoral dissertation at the University of Oulu. After that, the researcher has worked for two years at Orion R&D, the research and development division of pharmaceutical company Orion. The researcher applies for a post on the same team where they completed their dissertation. They have more than six months of research experience from another research environment. The mobility requirement is met.
  • A researcher has obtained a doctoral degree from the University of Lapland. After that, the researcher has worked one month on a foundation grant at the University of Eastern Finland, two months as a university researcher at Tampere University and three months as a researcher at Stockholm University. The mobility requirement is not met, because the two longest periods do not equal at least six months.
  • A researcher defended their doctoral dissertation at Aalto University in November 2019. The researcher has agreed to work at MIT during January–July 2020. They have received an invitation letter. However, the work has been interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the researcher has returned to Finland. The mobility requirement is met. They must contact the Academy and attach the invitation letter to the application.
  • A researcher obtained a doctoral degree from the University of Helsinki in January 2021. They have been invited to the University of Oxford on a six-month research visit. The visit was scheduled to start in March 2021, but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobility requirement is met. They must contact the Academy and append a letter of cooperation to the application.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented a researcher from moving to a foreign research environment. However, since PhD completion, they have started to cooperate with new colleagues. They have gained access to the colleagues’ research data and are planning co-publications with them. The cooperation started no later than six months before the call deadline. They have received a letter of cooperation as proof of the cooperation. The mobility requirement is met.
  • A researcher obtained their doctoral degree from Tampere University in March 2021. The researcher has planned a research visit to the University of Oulu in May–August 2021. The mobility requirement is not met, because the six-month requirement is not fulfilled before the call deadline. The Covid-19 pandemic does not affect the fulfilment of the mobility requirement, as the planned mobility period would be less than six months.

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