Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R)

Halmstad University received the award “HR Excellence in Research” from the European Commission in 2020. The award is given to employers who have a stimulating work environment, good conditions for researchers, merit-based and open recruitment processes – and continuously work to develop these areas. At the moment Halmstad University is one of 15 higher education institutes in Sweden that has the award.

Logotyp för HR Excellence in Research. Bokstäverna h och i r i mörkblått med en gul cirkel ovanpå. Illustration 

Commitment linked to the award

Recipients of the award commit to structured and long-term work in order to implement “the European Charter for Researchers” and “the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”, also called the “Charter and Code”. These are issued by the European Commission and contain guidelines for good practice in the recruitment and employment of researchers, regardless of career level. The purpose is to create better conditions for researchers within Europe. The work is assisted by the tool “Human Resource Strategy for Researchers” (HRS4R), which contains templates and mandatory procedures to follow in order to maintain the award. Each University defines its gaps in relation to the charter and code and creates a detailed action plan for their work. Progress is ensured through recurring internal and external reviews.

Charter and code – what does it stand for?

In 2005, the European Commission issued the recommendation ”The European Charter for Researchers” and ”The Code of Conduct for recruitment of Researchers”. The Charter & Code is aimed at researchers at all different stages of their careers – from doctoral students to professors – and covers all research areas.

The Charter & Code consists of 40 principles that determine roles, responsibilities and rights of researchers and employers. The principles are divided into four areas:

  1. Ethical and professional aspects
  2. Recruitment and selection
  3. Working conditions and social security
  4. Training and development

The overall purpose is to make research careers in Europe more attractive. It is about creating an open and sustainable European labour market for researchers, encouraging increased mobility, increasing female researchers’ participation and encouraging more young people to choose a research career.

By choosing a university that has chosen to sign the Charter and Code you can, among other things, be sure that:

  • there is an interest in internationalisation and diversity and knowledge about mobility
  • the recruitment process is transparent and merit-based
  • your rights as a researcher are recognised
  • a good working environment is a prioritised focus

It will also give you access to a pan-European network (Euraxess) consisting of research organisations and researchers offering career support etc.

Open transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R)

Open, transparent, and merit-based (OTM-R) processes ensure that the best person for the job is recruited, thereby achieving greater equality, enhancing the competitiveness of national research systems, and strengthening international collaboration and cooperation.

OTM-R is a cornerstone of “the European Charter for Researchers” and “the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”.

The OTM-R policy of Halmstad University consists of two documents that incorporate the content of the OTM-R checklist:

  • The Appointments Procedure is intended to provide a general description of the University’s eligibility requirements, assessment criteria and recruitment ethics for both appointments and promotions.
  • The document Guidelines for Recruitment and Promotion clarifies eligibility requirements and assessment criteria and describes recruitment and promotion processes.

HRS4R at Halmstad University

In 2020 Halmstad University received the right to use the ”HR Excellence in Research” award. The initial “gaps”, in relation to the principles, where identified through dialogue in various academic forums and committees. The identified gaps were: career development, access to career advice, judging merit and gender balance. Eight different actions were formulated. (See the action plan)

In 2022 an interim assessment of the HRS4-R was conducted and sent to the European Commission. The evaluators were satisfied with the ambitions and work conducted this far and we received the best possible rating in this first evaluation. Besides some minor changes the most important message was summarised in this comment taken from the “Implementation Phase Interim Assessment – EC Consensus Report”:

“It is clear that HH University is working very hard to polish its internal procedures regarding human resources and career paths, and they have much work done. Until the site visit, the university has plenty of time to continue working in their new Action Plan with a new focus: to highlight all these efforts both inside and outside the university, using this seal of excellence as a spearhead for attracting international talent and funding. It is time to start working also from the outside and not only internally, which they clearly have very well on track.”

Renewal of the award with a site visit will take place in 2025. Until then focus will be on conducting the planned actions, spreading knowledge about the HRS4R and the principles within the organisation and getting better at using the seal “HR Excellence in research” in external contexts.

The action plan – examples of what Halmstad University has focused on

Examples from action plan, 2022–2025:

  • Gain knowledge about how women and men experience their career opportunities and development in their research and teaching roles.
  • Develop and offer forms of mentorship.
  • Offer Swedish language training to international employees.
  • Follow up the implementation of the gender mainstreaming recruitment process. Set a training structure for introducing new managers to the process.
  • Improve the social welcoming of doctoral students.
  • Investigate the possibility of collaboration with other universities in the area of career advisory activities and competence development.
  • Clarify conditions and responsibilities when it comes to industry-financed researchers.
  • Increase knowledge for researchers regarding GDPR, data storage, ethical regulations, IPR and contract law in research projects.
  • Develop our job advertisements and the use of the recruitment system.

Examples of completed actions, 2020-2022

  • Gender mainstreaming in the recruitment process. Managers and recruitment committee were trained.
  • Monitored the needs for development of additional courses and activities related to career support at HH. Resulted in new activities.
  • Developed process to gather and aggregate needs for career support, recognised e.g. during the annual development dialogues.
  • Information and routines were developed for improved reception of international employees.
  • Packaged and visualised internal competence development opportunities, career paths and courses on the web.


Timeline at Halmstad University

  • 2023: continued work with action plan
  • July 2022: interim assessment
  • 2020–2025: implementation phase
  • 2020: Halmstad University was granted the HR Excellence in Research Award
    2019: Application was submitted
    2017: Letter of endorsement

The HRS4R process is described in the figure below.

Figure showing the HRS4R process at Halmstad University, with letter of endorsement and commitment submitted to the European Commission (autumn 2017), application with gap analysis and action plan and HRS4R implementation (from 2020 and onwards), with revisions and upgrading in two year (until 2022) and thereafter three year intervals.