About us


HR Excellence in Research logo

European Commission adopted in 2005 a European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. These two documents, addressed to researchers as well as research employers and funders in both the public and private sectors, are key elements in the EU's policy to boost researchers' careers.

Specifically, the European Charter for Researchers is a set of general principles and requirements which specifies the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers as well as of employers and/or funders of researchers. It constitutes a framework for researchers, employers and funders which invites them to act responsibly and as professionals within their working environment, and to recognise each other as such.

Moreover, the Code of Conduct for the recruitment of researchers consists of a set of general principles and requirements that should be followed by employers and/or funders when appointing or recruiting researchers. These principles and requirements are complementary to those outlined in the European Charter for Researchers. Institutions and employers adhering to the Code of Conduct will openly demonstrate their commitment to act in a responsible and respectable way and to provide fair framework conditions to researchers, with a clear intention to contribute to the advancement of the European Research Area.

Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R) has been included as a key part of this process. The ‘OTM-R Package’ is a set of practical and useful tools for implementing Open, Transparent and Merit-based recruitment practices in Research Performing Organisations and 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 for Researchers (HRS4R).

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.

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).

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.

The outcome of that Internal Analysis was our first Action Plan (2011) to support the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C). As a consequence 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 as part of the continuous improvement of our talent recruitment, retention and recognition of careers processes. The process involved the Governing Board, Researchers, Staff and a variety of stakeholders. After completing that self-assessment, the Revised 2014-2016 Action Plan was developed, focused on the implementation of initiatives internally identified, and the recommendations suggested from the EC.

5 years after the “HR Excellence in Research” acknowledgement was received, Ikerbasque run a new self-assessment process in 2016, which resulted in the HRS4R 2017-2019 Action Plan. The self-assessment process was coordinated by the Ikerbasque HRS4R Working Group, and 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.

A new self-assessment was completed in 2017 with an external evaluation by independent experts of the European Commission and, as a result, Ikerbasque renewed the HR award until 2020.

In 2019, Ikerbasque confirmed its commitment with the Endorsement letter to the Charter and Code.

At the end of the 2017-2019 Action Plan, the results of the Plan were studied and, along with the gathering of other information received from many other inputs from all stakeholders of Ikerbasque, the HRS4R Working Group developed a Gap Analysis where all the 40 items of the C&C were analysed. Then, the HRS4R Working Group identified the key areas of improvement based on the gap analysis, and defined a series of actions to tackle them. These actions are collected in our Revised 2020-2022 Action Plan.

After the deployment of the 2020-2022 Action Plan, Ikerbasque underwent another self-assessment where all the stakeholders took part, and we developed a new Gap Analysis that helped us identify the key elements we needed to tackle in the following Action Plan. During the definition of that new Action Plan, the Ikerbasque HRS4R Action Plans approach evolved, and rather than developing fixed 3-year- plans, the new Action Plan was though to be a living document, this is, an Action Plan with no time spam and in which new actions could be included at any moment.

This new approach started in 2023 with a new “living” Action Plan which initially included 18 different actions to tackle the gaps detected in the self-assessment carried out in the late 2022 and early 2023.

Related document: HR Strategy 2008-2023

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 had 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 March 2023.

HRS4R Strategy of Ikerbasque researcher's host institutions

Ikerbasque, the Basque Foundation for Science, is the organization created by the Basque Gobernment to reinforce the Basque scientific system through the attraction, recovery and retention of researchers from all around the world. Thus, Ikerbasque researchers develop their research in different basque institutions, from which many of them are attached to the HRS4R strategy:

Achucarro BC3 BCAM BCBL
BCMaterials Biocruces Bizkaia Biodonostia CIC biomaGUNE
CIC energiGUNE CIC nanoGUNE Neiker Polymat


Code of Ethics for researchers

Ikerbasque has developed a Code of Ethics for researchers that constitutes a statement of the values, principles and norms that should guide the conduct of all researchers who are part of and who collaborate with Ikerbasque for the responsible development of their professional activity, both in their relations with employees, as well as with their host institutions, clients, suppliers, public and private institutions, external collaborators and society in general. In this way, this document seeks to prevent the commission of unwanted behaviours by researchers, establishing reference guides on social and professional issues, while defining the monitoring and control mechanisms that guarantee its full compliance by all those who carry out their research work at Ikerbasque.

The Principles and Values ​​of the Ikerbasque Code of Ethics for researchers are based on the principles of integrity in research, which guarantee the responsible use of available resources, trust in the methods used and the reliability of the results obtained. Anyone subject to this Code of Ethics will have the obligation to apply the values, standards and principles contained in it during the development of their activity linked to Ikerbasque:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Transparency
  • Professional competence

To find more detailed information about the Code of Ethics, and extended information about our four values in research:

Ikerbasque Code of Ethics for researchers