HRS4R: A quality approach for the recruitment and working conditions of researchers


Early 2019 and at the instigation of PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres), the ESPCI Paris - PSL, Paris-Dauphine - PSL and the École Normale Supérieure - PSL were identified as the first institutions to experiment a real strategy for Human Resources in research. With the HRS4R (“Human Resources Strategy for Research”) implementation procedure, the school is also reconsidering its own quality approach, as explained by Régis Rosmade, Secretary General of the ESPCI.

« It’s a first step towards the quality approach, and we took advantage of the initiative launched by PSL to be part of the HRS4R certification process.”, Régis Rosmade declared. “The main objective is to implement a fair and transparent recruitment process. The recent success of the COFUND UPtoPARIS programme, obtained by the ESPCI Paris in 2017, encourages us to carry on pursuing and to strengthen our participation in various European programmes”. Indeed, the COFUND UPtoPARIS project is a pilot programme for the recruitment of international PhD fellows through a completely transparent and fair selection procedure.
The HRS4R labeling process is part of a broader continuous improvement process initiated by the ESPCI in 2019. Several aspects have thus been identified: a more transparent recruitment of researchers and the development of career supervision, especially for researchers and professors, while taking into account the very specific status of the ESPCI as a municipal school. Finally, a last focus area will concern the trainings provided by the institution, in particular pedagogical support and digital transformation.

The ESPCI Paris expects to obtain the HR Excellence in Research label from the European Commission by early 2020. 4 main topics including 40 principles summarize the approach detailed in the European Charter for researchers and the Code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers:

- Ethical principles and work responsibilities
- Recruitment, career development, mobility
- Working conditions and social security, work environment
- Training of researchers

The ESPCI Paris confirmed its intention to comply with the principles of the Charter and the Code by submitting an endorsement letter on the EURAXESS portal on July 23rd 2019.
In order to obtain the certification, the ESPCI first proceeded an analysis of its internal rules and practices and then made an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses in comparison with the European recommendations. In addition, the school defined an action plan to comply with these principles. This action plan will cover the period of 2020-2025. Some of these actions are merged with PSL, while others are under the responsibility of the ESPCI only. Progress will be monitored by a steering committee and will be subject to a mid-term evaluation.
The action plan actually consists in a long-term process of continuous and is organised in three successive phases, involving the ESPCI’s Board of Directors, the Human Resources Department, the Europe Department and some teacher-researchers.

- Phase 1: Beginning (12 months from July 2019) - preparation of the application to obtain the label
- Phase 2: Implementation phase (5 years from February 2020) - implementation of the action plan
- Phase 3: Renewal phase (6 years).

The HRS4R logo, which will be published on the ESPCI web page, will make it more attractive to researchers and donors, in particular the European Commission in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme and the upcoming HORIZON EUROPE programme.
Find out more about the HRS4R approach initiated by PSL: