News from the Academic Careers Observatory

A- A A+

By Igor Guardiancich, Academic Careers Observatory, MWP

March 2011 marks the 4th year since the establishment of the Academic Careers Observatory (ACO) of the Max Weber Programme. Since then, the Observatory has been assisting young scholars at all stages of their career through its online resources. The website provides a comparative framework for reflection on the state of affairs of academic careers in the social sciences and humanities in Europe and elsewhere. The website’s success is testified by a steady increase of visitors, who mainly focus on the details of academic career structures in individual countries as well as in comparative terms.

The past few months have been particularly hectic for the ACO, both with respect to the events it organized and due to exciting new research activities that Research Assistants Igor Guardiancich and Eva Rossi, as well as Mike Mariathasan (Economics Department) are carrying out under the supervision of the Director, Prof. Ramon Marimon.

In November 2010, the ACO organized the annual, Fifth MWP-ACO Conference ‘Enhancing the Efficiency of European Research Funding in the Social Sciences (in Times of Financial Restraint)’. The conference gathered together academics, policymakers and representatives of European and national funding agencies. These discussed how to enhance the efficiency of different national and supra-national research funding schemes, a fundamental objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy and a key requirement to enhance the international attractiveness of Europe’s higher education system by promoting student and young professional mobility and scholarly quality within the European Research Area.

The discussion on what constitutes best practice in European research funding was enriched through the presentation of some preliminary results of the current collaborative research carried out by the ACO. The ACO has carried out in collaboration with European Economic Association (EEA), the European Sociological Association (ESA) and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) an ERA-wide ‘Survey on Research Funding in the Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe’. The survey was sent out to 5,416 European economists, members of the EEA or highly ranked in the Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) database, to 2,180 European sociologists and to 12,348 European political scientists, members of the ESA, of the ECPR, or having published during the last five years in the Top 10 sociological or political science journals, ranked by the ISI Web of Knowledge.

The ACO team is still analyzing this interesting dataset, which has already yielded significant preliminary results, and whose outcomes will constitute the core of the ACO’s annual report for 2011.