The European Commission is committed to ensuring excellent working and research conditions in the European Research Area. In 2005, the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers were therefore published in order to establish common standards for scientific employment conditions at universities in Europe. Saarland University is committed to complying with the principles and achieving the objectives set out in the Charter and Code of Conduct and is seeking recognition with the HR Excellence in Research Award of the European Commission. In doing so, the university wishes to contribute to the development of an open and sustainable labour market for researchers.

In addition to implementing an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy, the programme establishes standards for good scientific practice. It also aims at facilitating the transfer of research results as well as fostering mobility and career options for researchers at all stages of academic qualification.

Charter & Code


Saarland University is currently undergoing a process of assessing its working and research conditions for academics through the European Commission’s HRS4R certification programme, which covers four main areas:


Ethical and professional aspects

This area includes the following topics: research freedom, professional attitude and responsibility, contractual and legal obligations, good practice in research, dissemination and exploitation of results as well as evaluation systems and equality.

Recruitment and selection procedures

This area includes the following topics: transparency and performance orientation of the recruitment procedures, recognition of qualifications and mobility phases in careers that might deviate from a classic academic career path.

Working conditions and social security

This area includes the following topics: contractual stability, financial security, teaching activities and participation in decision-making bodies.

Career development and continuing professional development

This area includes the following topics: academic supervision for early-career researchers, opportunities for continuing professional development in the context of specific research-related abilities and more general soft skills.

HRS4R certification procedure

Within twelve months after submission of the endorsement letter, Saarland University will hand in three basic documents: a Gap Analysis, an Action Plan and an OTM-R Checklist.

Gap Analysis

Based on the 40 criteria set out in the charter and code, the Gap Analysis serves as a tool used to evaluate the institution’s current status, allowing to identify gaps and room for improvement. Based on the results, objectives and measures to achieve the objectives will also be defined in the Gap Analysis.

OTM-R Checklist

The OTM-R Checklist records the current state of implementation of an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy at Saarland University. Once this self-evaluation is completed, the university will develop guidelines for the implementation of this recruitment policy.

Action Plan

Based on the Gap Analysis and the OTM-R Checklist, the Action Plan specifies measures to achieve the objectives defined in these documents. Time frames and milestones are determined for each measure, providing both orientation for internal implementation and for progress reviews by external experts. The Action Plan will regularly be reassessed and updated.

Persons involved

On behalf of the University Board, an advisory committee has been established for the HRS4R certification procedure. This committee consists of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the academic staff representative council, the Equal Opportunity Officer as well as of researchers in different qualification phases. All faculties, academic departments, administrative divisions are being involved in the process. A working group composed of members of staff at the President’s Office, at the Human Resources Division and at the Accounting and Finance Division is coordinating the project.


The Action Plan has been finalised.  

Action Plan Document

The working group obtained extensive feedback on the application documents by three external experts. Constructive suggestions and proposals for improvement were made at many levels and have now been incorporated into the final form of the application documents.

The Gap Analysis was presented to the university’s advisory committee and revised in response to feedback.

In June 2020, Saarland University has sent the letter of endorsement and thus officially committed to the HRS4R certification process. Since then, the working group and other stakeholders have been preparing the application documents.


Current status of the certification process

Saarland University has submitted its application for certification and has elaborated an action plan in order to implement the objectives set out in the HRS4R programme. In preparation for the application, specific needs and requirements were identified in a critical self-examination (Gap Analysis). Based on a checklist on OTM-R (open, transparent, merit-based recruitment), the university also reviews its recruitment procedures for openness, transparency and merit orientation.

In order to lay the foundations for certification, a project group composed of employees from various administrative divisions was set up to develop specific measures to meet the requirements of the HRS4R programme, particularly in promoting and encouraging young research talent as well as in the fields of professorial appointment management and recruitment. As part of this process, for example, a guideline for OTM-R based recruitment processes needs to be developed and an online application platform needs to be set up.




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Working group: Katrin Baltes, Theo Jäger,  Ruth Maurer, Benedikt Junker, Julia Petry, Anna-Maria Braun, Raluca Judele, Gregor Faltl, Bärbel Schreiner