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European Commission adopted the European Researchers’ Charter and the Code of Conduct for Researcher Recruitment, drafting two documents aimed at researchers as well as employers and providers of public and private sector funding. Both documents have become key elements of European Union policy, making research an attractive career and stimulating economic growth and employment in Europe. Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers (OTM-R) is one of the pillars of the European Charter for Researchers and in particular of the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.

Specifically, the European Charter for Researchers outlines the functions, responsibilities and rights of investigators and their employers. The aim is to ensure that the relation between these parties contributes to successful performance in the generation, transfer and shared use of knowledge, as well as the professional development of researchers from the early stages.

Moreover, the Code of Conduct for the hiring of researchers was drawn up to improve enrolment, so that selection procedures are fair and transparent. The researcher’s merit should be measured not only by the number of publications, but also by a wider range of evaluation criteria such as education and teaching, supervision, teamwork, knowledge transfer, management and public awareness-raising activities.

Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R) has been included as a key part of this process. OTM-R brings benefits to researchers, institutions and a country's research system. More specifically, OTM-R makes research careers more attractive, ensures equal opportunities for all candidates and facilitates mobility. Overall, it may contribute to an increase in the cost-effectiveness of investments in research. 

To help accommodate the research institutions to the Charter and Code principles, the Commission set out a procedure through which those institutions interested in including them, could design their own Human Resources Strategy.

This procedure consists of five steps:

  1. Preparation of a rigorous Internal Analysis.
  2. Publication of the Institution Strategy in the corporate website to maintain and improve the Charter and Code.
  3. Evaluation and approval of the Strategy by the Commission.
  4. Application and continuous self-assessment of the process by the institution
  5. And finally, have the Strategy and its deployment evaluate externally by the Commission every four years after initiating the process.

The initiative of defining and deploying this Strategy is carried out in collaboration with the Commission and other institutions, members of the pilot group, including the other institutions that already have this acknowledgement and those in the process of obtaining it, which constitutes the best forum for exchanging and sharing best practices. 

HR Strategy in Ikerbasque

Ikerbasque Strategy for attracting talented researchers was established in 2007 and reflects the commitment for excellence, openness, flexibility, pan-European focus, ethical awareness and ethical and human values. Ikerbasque signed the “Declaration of Commitment to the Principles of the European Charter of Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment ff Researchers” in 2008 and was invited by the EC to take part in the 2nd Cohort of HR Strategy Group to implement a HR Strategy related Action Plan. During 2011, Ikerbasque underwent the Internal Analysis process of the "HR Strategy for Researchers" (HRS4R) fostered by the European Commission. HRS4R is a mechanism to support the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C).

The outcome of that process was an Internal Analysis and Action Plan (2011). As a consequent of this, in October 2011, Ikerbasque was awarded the "HR Excellence in Research" logo and recognition.

At the end of 2013, Ikerbasque underwent a self-assessment process for reviewing and following-up the implementation of the Action Plan designed in 2011 towards the continuous improvement of our talent recruitment, retention and recognition of careers. The result of that process was reflected and summarised in 2 years follow-up and self-assessment report. After completing that self-assessment, our Revised Action Plan 2014-2016 focused on implementation the initiatives internally identified, and the recommendations suggested from the EC.

After 5 years since the “HR Excellence in Research” acknowledgement was received, Ikerbasque run a new self-assessment process, to be completed with an external evaluation, in order to set the HRS4R Strategy for the coming years. During the self-assessment process in 2016, each of the 40 principles of the C&C were revised and aligned with the reality of Ikerbasque, including the implementation of an OTM-R policy. This process was coordinated by the HRS4R Working Group and more information can be found in the Gap Analysis.

Ikerbasque has been externally assesed in 2017 by independent experts of the European Commision and, as a result, Ikerbasque has renewed the HR award until 2020. This will enable us to implement a new Revised Action Plan (2017-2019).

Related document: HR Strategy 2008-2019

OTM-R Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers

As member of the 2nd cohort of organisations involved in the development of HRS4R, we have analysed, assessed and integrated the recommendations and principles of OTM-R into our internal recruitment policies.

We have used the Report of the Working Group of the Steering Group of Human Resources Management on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment (OTM-R) of Researchers and the checklist for ensuring the completeness of our analysis and the corresponding policy definition.

In 2016 Ikerbasque implemented the OTM-R toolkit and recommendations by the European Commission. This was a smooth process and highlighted that Ikerbasque has been recruiting researchers based on Open, Transparent and Merit-based processes since it was created in 2007. Nonetheless, the systematic review of our recruitment instruments using the OTM-R checklist has allowed Ikerbasque to improve its internal analysis, leading to an improved “Talent Attraction” process and an OTM-R policy. 

The result is the current Ikerbasque OTM-R Policy, dated November 2016.